Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Working Smarter to Avoid Neck Pain

I'm still in the middle of insulating my parents' attic. I've spent so much time at my parents' house that my father thinks I live there. It's a slog, but I'll say one thing for it: it's a grueling workout, and after doing it Tuesday and Saturday, along with yoga on Monday and karate on Friday, I felt wonderful Saturday. It's like the exercise does something renewing, anti-depressing, like I'd spent a day in the sun.

Then came Sunday. My neck hurt, even after six aspirin. It was time to start working smarter on the attic, not just harder. The hardest part of insulating the attic is getting the second layer of insulation going crosswise over the first layer. Another problem is that the attic's trusses are 24" apart, not the usual 16," which is about how wide the insulation is. Lying in bed (where Madonna says she gets her best ideas), I wondered if I could lay down insulation between the joists and then lay down a solid layer on top, going the same way and not having to crawl around the low, tight spots, dragging insulation with me, to fill in a second layer crosswise. That sounded fine, but what about having insulation that didn't fill in between the joists, just 2/3 of the area there, plus a (mostly) solid layer on top? Would the insulation between the joists do any good?

I learned at the university that shape affects heat transfer. Having thrown away the textbook long ago, I looked if I could find an answer online. There were solutions involving heat transfer over fins and ribs (like a radiator), but not through them. Heat transfer equations aren't easy to conjure, so I did an experiment. Using some styrofoam to model the insulation, some ice and frozen meat for cold, and two thermometers, I found out that the extra insulation, even though it wasn't a solid layer, would help. The temperature in the Gladware container with the extra styrofoam got to 66F after an hour, as opposed to 64F in the less insulated container. (Ambient temperature was 71F.)

Just rolling out the insulation won't be a walk in the park, but it'll be easier than what I've been doing. When I need a workout, I'll go to karate and yoga.


Lowcarb team member said...

You are doing well helping your parents out...it does make karate and yoga and even a pleasant walk sound bliss!

But well done Lori

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

Thanks. At least I haven't (yet) gotten hurt at yoga or karate.