Draft dodgers


“I’m excited about insulation.”
Who says that?
I do. I uttered that very sentence the other night as we were preparing for bed. I have spent enough years with Mr. Wonderful to know that sentence is akin to whispering sweet nothings in his ear.

Over the years we have tried to find every last nook, cranny, and gaping hole in this house and systematically plug them up. Looking back I marvel at our first winter in this old house. We routinely chipped a layer of ice off the floor of the shower before bathing and the pipes froze so often that we had a blow dryer relegated to the task of thawing them out. We used to imagine a large puddle of snow melt ringing the house from the sheer amount of heat loss.

Minimize the gaps

Even using a wood burner for heat, we find minimizing gaps a must. As a result, Mr. Wonderful has made it a side hobby to sniff out any errant breeze. A windy day has him eager as a dog on point. We are routinely called to come watch a string (or in the interest of full disclosure: cobweb) blow in one of his newly discovered brisk northeasterly indoor breezes. He prowls the darkest spaces with a candle looking for drafts. I’ve had to point out on more than one occasion that if he keeps sticking a flame up amongst the old wood and cobwebs, he’s liable to have all the heat we can handle – at least until the fire department arrives.

Were he a superhero his symbol would be a candle and a roll of pink R-13.

Anticipating this latest renovation I made the mistake of typing the following:

“Of course in this case the damage is minimal. It’s mainly a quick check of the subfloor, new tile, and some cabinetry, lighting, plumbing and paint …”
In case we had any doubt this just goes to prove that I am never going to get any smarter – ever.


What a difference a day – and a man on a mission armed with a crowbar – makes.
As near as I can recall we needed a new wax ring for the toilet. There was talk of some new tile. Then there is the subfloor. You can’t install tile on a bad subfloor. That really needs replaced. While we are at it the shower should be pulled out because we’ve always wondered what was behind there (a wind machine perhaps?)

Soon, just like that old children’s song where the shin bone is connected to the thigh bone and the thigh bone connected to your checking account, the entire infrastructure of our home was in disarray – again. As of right now I have no bathroom, no laundry room, and the fate of my mudroom hangs in the balance. I am bribing the children to answer “nope, no breeze” even if a brisk wind is blowing back their hair when he asks if they “feel that?” Every time someone admits they might, “feel that” we lose another wall.

Laundry room

The latest victim was the laundry room. Having admitted there might be a draft, I watched as he gutted the space. Last night we pulled out an old wall cabinet, showered ourselves with five pounds of plaster and ancient coal dust, and further convinced me that when we die it will be of some lung disease last seen in people who lived a century ago.
On the upside we will be warm.

We have now gone down to the studs, put insulation in every speck of a crack we could find, and have to admit the bathroom is beautifully airtight. I use the term “bathroom” loosely, of course. It’s really just a shell of a room with a plywood floor and an impressive amount of insulation. It is toasty though.

Meanwhile, as I type this there is a slight draft coming from the corner of the dining room. Under penalty of death will anyone tell Mr. Wonderful anything at all about it.

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