1920's garage/apartment in South Texas - insulation advice needed!

I bought a house with a garage/apartment a year ago. I have since taken out all the drywall because many boards had cracked over the years. When I started taking them out, I noticed what seemed like mountains of dead insects, abandoned nests, dirt, etc back there. Clearing all that out seemed to also remove much of the musty smell. At this point, I need to refurbish all of the original windows. I plan on gently removing the trim pieces and removing the paint from them, then after the drywall is affixed, nailing them back as they were. Many of the windows do not work and need to be fixed as well.

As you can tell from the photos, there was no insulation and there are some light water stains present on the inside of the siding. What you cant tell from the photos is that there are small gaps in between the original #117 siding.

I am stuck with a dilemma: What kind of insulation, if any, do I put into the walls before installing new drywall?

I have talked to a number of professional historical house contractors for advice and I have gotten many different pieces of advice. Some insulation will obviously stay wet for long periods of time and attract termites and wood rot.

I am in South Texas, where it is hot 10 months out of the year.

Any ideas as to what insulation to install? Once I get new drywall, I don't intend on removing it for decades, which is why this is such an important decision.

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I'd love to give you some advise but being from Iowa my insulation needs are very different from yours.  I have never has problems with fiberglass getting wet and drying out here.  I imagine with your humidity the drying process takes a lot longer than mine but we still have high humidity during the summer.  Good luck with your project and I am impressed at how clean your place is. Lair

Do you have any ideas about your dew point?

If it is clothe to the inside - maybe you should try to take off internal insulation?
If removing internal insulation is a problem - you can try to install less heat protected garage gates -http://advancedelectricgates.com/?


I'd get rid of the sash weight system even though it can probably be repaired.  There are retrofit devices that work better and are fairly easy to install, even though in your location heat loss via the weight pockets isn't really a consideration.

As to the water stains on the inside of the siding, probability is it came from a roof leak.  It doesn't appear to be ongoing.

Finding bugs & nests inside a wall cavity is pretty much the norm.  They only indicate a future problem if they are honeybee nests.  That wax is impossible to completely remove or seal, and will cause future generations of bees to locate where the originals did.  Termites are highly unlikely to infest the second floor until they have eaten the first floor.  Termites generally come from the ground and work up.

What concerns me is the wall appears to be balloon construction which means air flow in the cavity.  Unless that is properly blocked at floor level you have fire potential from below, and a bad nailing situation for the new wall board. 

Given the location, insulation for heat loss is probably not your main potential gain.  Your insulation need is more a function of delaying heat infiltration via the roof and possibly South facing wall.  If you do insulate the wall you can line the cavities with poly, or encapsulate the fiberglass in poly sleeve which is available in rolls used to make bags.

Small gaps in siding boards are only a consideration if the boards are not covered with another siding material.  If it's novelty siding, your best fix is a mixture of white glue and fine sawdust.  The wall is open and easy to plug now.

It seems like you should somehow seal up the gaps in the siding before you insulate.  I caulk everything everywhere....but in this case, you wouldn't want your caulk to show through.  If you were replacing siding you could Tyvek, but since you aren't,can you caulk or wood putty those cracks, then insulate?

IMHO...Closed cell spray foam. It seal cracks, doesn't take on water, is fire resistant (E84), and has the highest R value. It is the most expensive but as someone told me once its like a 401K...the price of energy is always going to go up. We used it in the attic of our 210 yr old field-stone colonial (the only place to insulate a solid stone house) and it cut fuel use by about 45% (course there was no insulation before)  7" gave us an R value of 49.


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