DIY Q&A

New or old, wall insulation is imperative

February 8, 2013 

  • Quick tip

    Greens and blues are currently the most stylish indoor paint colors for homes, according to the Paint Quality Institute ( paintquality.com), an educational arm of Rohm and Haas Co., maker of chemicals used in acrylic paints.

    “The greens and blues that characterize the outdoors are the same hues that will be popular when beautifying our living spaces this year,” said Debbie Zimmer, editor of a Paint Quality Institute newsletter.

Q: How important is wall insulation? I live in a house built before the World War II and a contractor who did some work on it told me there is no insulation in the walls. What should I do? –L. Lyle

Wall insulation is quite important. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory ( ornl.gov) recommends R-13 or R-15 wall insulation in new homes even in warm climate regions, and considerably more in colder climates. Many houses built before the energy crisis in the 1970s, and some built years later, had little or no insulation. Attics and floors are relatively simple to insulate, and many owners of old homes have done that, but walls are a different story. If you have a wood-framed building, there are a couple of approaches that could improve the energy efficiency of exterior walls at reasonable cost. If you have a masonry building, there just isn’t much you can do to insulate that is practical and cost-effective.

At its Energy Star website ( energystar.gov) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a map and chart of recommended insulation levels for retrofitting attics and floors of existing homes in various climate zones.

Before attempting to insulate any existing wall, you should have several experienced insulating contractors check the walls and give you estimates of costs and probable energy savings. If you decide against insulating, there are some steps you can take to improve your wall energy efficiency: Installing tightly sealed, energy-efficient windows is a big help, since much of the heat loss through walls goes out windows. Doors should be well weather-stripped, and any cracks sealed.

Let glides go to work

Q: We have a beautiful ceramic-tile floor in our kitchen, but the chairs to the breakfast bar have metal legs and are quite heavy. When we move the chairs, we worry about scratching the tiles and it also makes an awful screeching noise. How can we fix this? –Ellen

You should be able to attach glides to the chair-leg bottoms. That should make the chairs easy to move and probably also eliminate the noise. Glides, also called feet, caps, pads and skids, are available for almost any type of chair. Check the bottoms of the chair legs to see if there are already small holes, either threaded or not threaded; some of the best and most-permanent glides attach with small bolts or screws. If there are no holes, you can either drill them or choose another type of glide. For example, some have sleeves that slip over the bottoms of the legs. Other glides can be glued in place.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Austin: gaus17@aol.com

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