We moved here about three months ago – a “skanky” farm house built in 1858. It sits on one side of a fabulous parcel of somewhere north of 200 acres. When we arrived, we knew we’d have to fix the place up to make it modern – what we didn’t expect was the extent to which just about every previous repair and restoration was, how to say it, “interesting” in many intense ways.
The first job was to get hot water – I’ll relate that tale in another post. Suffice it to say here, that it took six weeks and a ton more work than expected. The good side is that now I’m the “expert” on propane installations amongst all my friends. I don’t know whether to be scared or merely highly concerned.
We registered this site a couple of months ago, but just were too busy to actually start writing about the follies. Today – that changed. I simply could not resist any longer.
The previous inhabitants of this house are trying to kill me.
The immediate impetus that lifted finger to keyboard was the mistake I made pulling a board off a wall in what we call the “Barn Room.”
I expected there to be standard cellulose blown-in insulation. I was aggrieved because I thought I would have to work around this insulation to put in eight electrical sockets, and three ethernet panels, as there are no sockets here at all. The normal hollow walls found in the other parts of the house make installation of wiring relatively simple. I wanted to see what I was in for.
I was NOT prepared for what I found.
It should be noted that there are no less than four different sizes of slats on the walls – not including the old wall on one side, which has vertical slats instead of the horizontal used by the previous inhabitant.
Notice the careful use of grocery shopping bags to stuff hollows above the door at the ceiling? The picture does not show the bulging-out below the ceiling, and above the door height.
I removed a slat, and this is what I found, I couldn’t have been more surprised if Jimmy Hoffa had been in there:
I guess you could say it is a form of cellulose insulation – just not particularly highly processed. I cannot imagine anything being more flammable except perhaps lightly shredded newspaper. This stuff is even worse, though, as it makes for lots of nooks and crannies for bugs and vermin to crawl around within – while at the same time giving absolutely no R-Value benefits at all.
I mean, seriously, somebody had to dump a whole bunch of tree debris in between these walls? We’re not talking finely-shredded or even chunky chips. What we have here are pieces of tree bark, sizing up to several inches long.
Figuring, perhaps, this was a new “green” insulation, I pulled out a piece about six inches long and placed a match to it. It went up with gratifying swiftness, including a bit of bubbling as the sap caught fire.
In the boy scouts, this stuff would be revered as a sure-fire [sic] way to get your Firem’n Chit with a single match.
I’m afraid to find out what’s on the other wall. But, I cannot in good conscience put anything remotely electrical inside these until I verify they’re at least as safe as, say, a gas can in an airtight box…