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So You Want to Do It Yourself Do You?

  You have made a great choice of weatherizing your house to make it more efficient, improve indoor air quality, and most importantly, increase comfort.  Even better, you have decided to do it yourself.  This should save you some money and give you a feeling of great accomplishment when you are finished.  Now all you have to do is go out and purchase the right products to complete your tasks and then set aside the time to do them.

There is only one problem with this, the “D” in DIY.  Yes that’s the letter that stands for DO.  The one thing I have observed (from personal experience I might add) is that we often get all gung–ho to start a project, but once we complete all the steps associated with starting a project, we start to regret our choice.  If we actually fully complete our project, we find ourselves wishing we had paid a professional to do it.  With that said, let’s take a look at the steps involved in air sealing an attic for the do-it-yourselfer.

1 – Planning.  Yes, every good project starts out with a good plan.  How big is the attic? How accessible are all the areas of the attic?  Are there any knee walls?  What’s a knee wall?  What kind of insulation is currently in place?  Should protective clothing or a dust mask be worn?  Are there any large openings into the attic?  Where are the air leaks?  What kind of materials should be used to seal the air leaks?  Should caulk, spray foam, or both be used?  What types of penetrations are present?  These are just a few of the questions that have to be addressed.

2 – Purchasing Materials.  Ever stood in front of the area where all the caulking is sold in a Home Depot?  It’s enough to boggle the mind.  Which brand is best?  What’s cheap and what’s too expensive?  How much is needed?  (Coming up just short when you live 20+ minutes from the store is enough to cause an aneurysm.)  Which products last longer?  Should specialty products be used around electrical wires or exhaust vents?  If spray foam is going to be used, what kind should be used and where?  Should foam board be used, and if so what kind and where?  Assuming you found a helpful and patient associate in whatever store you are in, let’s move to the next step.

3 – Performing the task.  Now there is a plan and products, so now it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get it done.  Like I said to start, this is the most difficult part of the task.  Assuming we properly gauged the amount of time it would take to do this task in the first place, how do you keep from getting distracted?  Most people’s lives are pretty busy and filled with distractions.  There’s the cell phone, the big game, the kid’s big game,  the unexpected visitor, the “Honey, while you’re up there”, the sudden emergency project, and so on and so on.  Over the years I have seen more piles of unused materials in friends and family’s homes or garages (including my own) to start my own home improvement store.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the do-it-yourselfer.  I certainly can respect a person that’s willing to take the time to start and finish a project all on their own or with the help of friends.  The satisfying feeling of accomplishment is hard to match.  There is nothing like patting yourself on the back for a job well done. This is of course assuming it was well done, but then again, how do you know?

In conclusion, there are some projects that are perfect for the do-it-yourselfer and there are several that are not.  When it comes to permanent fixes to the home, some things should be left up to professionals.  In the long run, how much are you really saving after you have pulled all your hair out and have added to the pile of unused stuff in the garage?  


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