Weatherproofing tips


I have an old 1941 brick Cape Cod house that has never been insulated properly. I've replaced the incredibly drafty multi-pane lead sash weight windows with double-paned Andersens and have been generally pleased with the results, energy $ wise.
But now I want to figure out how best to plug up the incredibly drafty spots. We pulled down the basement paneling to redo the electrical and found the beginnings of what looked like one of the old East-to-West Berlin tunnels and old termite damage. We also found lots of places where the joists rest on the cinderblocks where bugs have been getting in. We figured that out by the number of spider balls and webs surrounding areas where it looks like there's just crushed stone filling the gaps above the cinderblocks.
So, two questions. When there aren't any tell-tale signs like spider webs, how do you determine where the leaks are?
Second, is the blown-in insulation that I've read about for old brick homes with plaster and lathe walls worth the effort? How disruptive is it? Will insulation leak down the walls and into the basement (don't laugh - house was built during the WWII paper shortage so there's no building paper between floors and as vibration and age cause the plaster to disintegrate, it all falls through the cracks in the flooring and into the basement as a very gritty dirt that covers everything.
We first discovered this pulling ceiling tiles down. There was several pounds of the stuff on top of every tile! Anyway, I don't want to shove anything in the walls that's going to make that problem worse. It's about as hard to retrofit building paper as it is to add 1/4" to the stud you cut too short, if you get my drift.
Thanks!
-- Bobby G.
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Get someone to do Blower Door Test, a pro uses a fan in a special enclosure that he puts in a door, there are gauges montoring airflow and its hooked to a computer. He will tell you how many air exchanges you have per hour, how many you should have and go through the house with a smoke stick pinpointing the leaks. It helped me alot. It should be around 300$
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wrote:

<<Get someone to do Blower Door Test, a pro uses a fan in a special enclosure that he puts in a door, there are gauges montoring airflow and its hooked to a computer. He will tell you how many air exchanges you have per hour, how many you should have and go through the house with a smoke stick pinpointing the leaks. It helped me alot. It should be around 300$>>
Tell me more about the smoke stick test. I assume they're pushing air into the house at a pretty high CFM rate and that they use the smoke stick (is that what we used to call a "punk" used for lighting fireworks?) to find where the pressurized air is escaping from the house. I've got several very high powered window fans that I could use for the test if I can generate the same sort of airflow. $300 is a lot of dinero for something I could do myself. I don't need techincal specs about air exchanges as much as I need to know where to squire the foam and caulk! (-: If you can describe what they did with the smoke stick I think I can tell whether I am able to emulate the process.
Thanks for your input!
-- Bobby G.
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On Fri, 6 Nov 2009 14:38:44 -0500, "Robert Green"

You can buy a "smoke pencil" , but cheaper incense works just as well for finding drafts.*
http://www.eartheasy.com/live_cheapheat.htm
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wrote:

Sounds like a cigarette would work too. Thanks!
-- Bobby G.
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On Fri, 6 Nov 2009 16:16:09 -0500, "Robert Green"

Incense is cheaper.
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wrote:

Not if I bum one from my chain smoking neighbor! (-: And it's a public service, too. One less cigarette to gum up his lungs.
-- Bobby G.
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On Tue, 03 Nov 2009 08:57:40 -0500, Robert Green wrote:

Our basement is a bit like that, too - although the walls are poured concrete, but it's a bit rough at the top where the joists meet. The gaps aren't particularly large, but the roughness will make it a time-consuming job to caulk or use foam (plus I don't like foam for anything except as a last resort).
I'm thinking some form of sealer that I can brush on would be best, but I've not looked into what's out there yet.

I could feel 'em on the back of my hand. But I'm just going to seal around the whole lot anyway, just to be sure.
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Jules wrote:

FWIW, there are brushable caulks....the contractor used it (Porter brand) on our concrete block/stucco condo. After pressure washing, there ended up being a lot of bare stucco, due to extremely poor previous paint job and lots of mildew and peeling. There were lots of fine cracks, as well. This was a contractor who did mainly commercial work, and we could not have gotten better results. After careful prep., they primed, used brushable caulk, one coat of semi gl. acryllic/latex paint. Done in 2001, no cracks reappearing since. Don't recall whether the caulk went before or after the primer, but it did the trick. As I recall, the caulk was almost clear, or kind of milky appearing. Clear when dry?

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On Tue, 03 Nov 2009 11:09:15 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

Y'know, thinking about it, I can't see any reason why I can't just dump the contents of a caulk gun cartridge out into a tub and just brush that on. So long as it's not done too thickly it should cure OK. It might kill the brush, but I think I've got some of those crappy HD 'value' ones laying around somewhere anyway....
As it's not in a location where appearance matters, it's not an issue if it picks up a bit of dirt via the brush along the way (so long as there's not so much dirt that it doesn't bind properly)
cheers
Jules
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Jules wrote:

brushed out - perhaps some combo of a gun and a paint roller?
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wrote:

I can, having tried to work with caulk from a can whose seams broke in the gun. No brush I know of will work, you'll need a putty knife. The only nearly brushable stuff I can think of is something like the waterproof cement I painted the cinderblocks with. Like pancake batter, but you could use a wallpaper brush to apply it. Maybe there's a similar caulking product.
-- Bobby G.
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Why not? I've used it around doors I've put in with great success. I have been warned by the window installers never to use it on windows because it can affect their abililty to glide smoothly but for filling up rough holes like the joist ends, I would think it would ideal, if terrible looking. (-:

I think I might be tempted to try the fan/smoke stick approach. I sure hope we have one more warm day before winter sets in!
-- Bobby G.
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