Knauf Eco-Seal in Richmond
We’re working on a little house on Terrace St. It’s a 1902 railroad worker’s cabin on the hill looking out over the Richmond train yard. Boards nailed to boards, no studs, with a layer of newspaper to slow down the wind blowing through. Saturday, January 4, 1902 was when the old guys built that particular piece of wall. (Note: the Walla Walla actually sunk on Thursday the day after New Years day, but it wasn’t reported in the papers until Saturday.) The original work is so rough, the little house may have been an amateur weekend project, hence the Saturday paper!
It’s a duplex, the upper half is fairly intact as the original cabin, the lower half is getting a complete remodel; as energy efficient as we can make it on a limited budget.
We couldn’t afford the $4.00/s.f. cost of spray-in foam, so we decided on a compromise between foam and newspaper: a product from Knauf called Eco-Seal. The claim is that Eco-Seal will stop the air infiltration, and fiberglass batts or blow-in will provide the insulation. The advertising says “Simple airless equipment”, as opposed to specialized equipment for spray-foam costing $20K or more.
Well, we’ve got an airless, so we bought a bucket of the Eco-Seal – $225.00. One thing for sure about Eco-Seal; it’s blue! We put the intake in the bucket and fired up the airless. Nothing. The intake wouldn’t begin to pick up the thick blue material. When we finally read the fine print, it says the airless has to be a “Graco 695 or equivalent”. This is a one gallon-per-minute machine, and none of the rental yards in the Bay Area have one that big.
Kelley Moore in SSF came to our rescue; it’s a long trip from Richmond to SSF, but worth it?
The intake tube on the 695 wouldn’t pick up the heavy material either. We finally took off the tube and set the machine right in the bucket.
We blocked the bucket up so the intake was picking up off the bottom. Even so, it tended to suck wormholes in the blue material and cavitate the pump.
All this manipulation in the open bucket made a mess and caused extraneous bits of material to fall in, so the spray tip kept clogging. It took two hands to run the gun, one hand on the trigger and the other on the tip to reverse it every two feet or so to blow the clogs out.
This was a pain in the neck, we never would have gone to this much trouble, but we’d spent the $225.00 for the Eco-Seal, if it works, it will do what nothing else will. When it works, it foams up just enough to make a nice bead, and it looks convincing as an air infiltation stopper. Only the blower door test will tell.
The silly part is that the airless may be unnecessary. The folks that build log homes have miles of gaps between the logs to caulk neatly. They’ve developed a set of manual tools to install bulk caulk out of five gallon pails which I’ll bet would work very well for the Knauf product. It’s what we’ll try next time.
Here’s the company video: