Home Insulation Merit Badge, Expert Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,200 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,226 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …

For this week’s Cleaning Up/Home Insulation Expert Level Merit Badge, I went over to my friend, Midge’s, for a little help in her DIY insulation project. Midge is a dear pal, a real bosom friend (to borrow from Anne with an E). She’s my Diana Barry, if you will. But lately, she’d been a little cranky and we thought it was due to her house being haunted. I mean, that will make a gal a bit crabby, can I get an amen?

We assumed her house was haunted due to the fact that she couldn’t keep her bedside candle lit, and doors kept slamming shut. I mean, what else could be the culprit other than the supernatural?

photo by Olybrius via Wikimedia Commons

Oh yeah. Drafty windows and poor insulation. Ahem. I knew that. I had after all, insulated my own drafty house only a couple years before. So, hey, if I can help a girlfriend out and earn an expert level badge all at once, I’m all in.

First, we narrowed down the usual suspects when it came to our haunting windows. It’s good to know, my peeps, that windows installed before the 1980s are rarely insulated properly. And if you get cold feet, like Yours Truly, nearly year ‘round, you might find it is wise to replace your windows, or at least insulate them. You know, instead of owning 11 pairs of fuzzy slippers. *casual whistling … nothing to see here, move along*

Anyway, once we discovered which windows were the worst of the worst (we’re talking a portal to Narnia in terms of sheer winter-ness), we got to work. We needed:

  • Caulk
  • Nail gun
  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Spray insulation (Made specifically for windows and doors. Don’t use a regular expanding foam; it may warp.)

First, feeling rather like the female versions of Ty Pennington and Bob Vila, we used our utility knives to score along the caulking around the window trim. I mean, you can go all Hulk on it, and just pry it off without scoring first, but Midge doesn’t recommend that (she can be a spoilsport that way).

Then, using your pry bar, begin prying up the window trim, a little tiny bit at a time. If you’re like me, you will have lost the pry bar and will need to use a butter knife. Don’t be like me.

There should be tiny nails in the corners that you will need to pry up as well. If there aren’t any, your contractor/builder was shoddy, to say the least. Carefully remove the nails, using your butter knife. I mean, your pry bar or hammer.

There should be about an inch or so of sheetrock visible once you remove the trim. Remove that, being careful in case there are any wires in there (no one needs a DIY home perm, right?).

This is where you will use your handy-dandy spray insulation. Once the foam is dry, you can use your butter knife (I mean, your utility knife) to trim any bubbles off, so it lies nice and flat against the wall.

Treat yourself to some new nails (removing the old ones carefully; this is good time to recall how up-to-date your last tetanus shot was) when you put the trim back up.

photo by Wolfgang Sauber via Wikimedia Commons

Voila! You’ll have an Expert Level Merit Badge, toasty warm feet, and banished ghosts! Not bad for an afternoon of work, don’t you agree?

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This project sounds both complicated and straight forward at the same time. Your description reminds me of when I watch This Old House on PBS. All these cool repairs and projects are set up very logical. While that all makes sense, I know it is actually harder to do a big repair job than it sounds. Like what happens when the old wood frame suddenly splinters? Oh, and I just got a DPT shot booster two weeks ago so at least I am good to go when it comes to rusty nails!

  2. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    My circa 1911 farmhouse has some ” replacement ” windows, those crummy ones that are supposed to be
    insulated? the stuff between the 2 panes has now leaked and they are clouded up and have teeny tiny little insulation balls rolling around inside. needless to say they don’t work very well. I use heavy clear plastic sold on rolls at garden centers, and tape it over the worst leaking offenders with that painters tape that wont peel off paint. not pretty but gets the job done. its amazing how much air was blowing in .
    there is no insulation on this mountain top home so it get cold here, but luckily i have mostly those huge ,ugly but way efficient iron radiators so the house stays heated fairly well. But i am always cold as a rule with a subnormal temperature.

    • Karlyne says:

      Yep, Lisa those were bad years – the old wooden ones are at least worth fixing, but those modern ones are the pits! Brrrr – here’s wishing you a mild winter!

      • Lisa Von Saunder says:

        thanks Karlyne, it is 32 out and dropping fast, and way sleeting as I write this,like everything is covered in a thin sheet of ice now. hope this isn’t a harbinger to come.

        • Karlyne says:

          We just got back from The Nutcracker, and it’s 16′ out at 9:30pm. We had to drive about 20 mph and pray for nobody to slide out in front of us – ice everywhere! Good thing I made an apple pie to come home to…

  3. Karlyne says:

    I’m impressed, MBA Jane! It might be harder to do if you’re actually talking antique windows, as Winnie says, but for most people it’s those horrible aluminum 1970/80s ones that really take their toll, and I think your instructions will help immensely.

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