Sill boxes part 1

In the past I have been skeptical of the real impact of small changes around the house.  Was I doing a lot of work just to make myself feel better without creating real change?  Sealing the sill boxes in my basement convinced me otherwise.

I first decided to seal the sill boxes in the crawl space in order to make our family room more comfortable.  Unlike the rest of our house, the family room is over a crawl space instead of the basement, and in the winter it could become significantly cooler.  However, the room is our favorite and we where we spend the most time as a family.  Raising the thermostat for the entire house to keep this room comfortable was not economical and would have made the rest of the house much too warm.  Therefore, when our son was born we began using a space heater.   A space heater, though, is not a long term nor very economical or green solution.  Despite my skepticism I decided to insulate in the crawl space (as a part of a three part plan) to see if it made a difference.

Unlike some crawl spaces, ours opens to the basement and is not vented to the outside.  Therefore, the only insulating required would be the sill boxes, instead of the entire floor, making the job much more manageable. 

I sealed all four sides of each sill box with Great Stuff Crack Filler.  It came as a surprise that while doing this I could feel cold air working its way through invisible gaps.  It didn’t take long to complete all of the sill boxes in the crawl space.  The only difficulty was managing the mess and drips from the Great Stuff.

DSC_0339.jpgAs with everything we have done to warm the family room, this one step made a noticeable and immediate difference.  The family room felt warmer.  Furthermore, it made me rethink my skepticism and awakened me to the impact of small projects.  Though something may seem too simple or easy, it can have a significant impact.  I achieved the goal of warming the family room and we haven’t used the space heater since.

Feeling the effect in just one room, I continued to seal all of the sill boxes in the basement not just for comfort but for energy savings.  The ceiling is a drop ceiling, so access to most parts wasn’t a problem.  There were a few place I could not contort my arm to reach due to pipes or conduit.  The dramatic payoff of this project has only made me want access to the all of the sill boxes, including those between the first and second floor.  To complete the project I plan stuff the sill boxes with cellulose insulation.  

Unfortunately, I ran out of Great Stuff with only four boxes to go.  I was about to run to the store for one more can, but then I got to thinking about materials and if there is a greener alternative to Great Stuff.  What I found was another interesting green consumer experience, but more to come on that in the future.

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