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Two comments came in via email about the server closet.

Regards the transformation being almost unbelievable, here is a picture with the attic access door removed, showing the original attic space. Compare with “before” photo.

Big air hole

This is a shot from the attic space looking at the back of the closet wall with all the network equipment.

Server closet framing and insulation

Regards the comment requesting more details about the network config, Howard and I did a total of 12 network drops and 7 coax drops. This is the wiring bundle coming up into the attic, through the first floor, from the crawlspace. The cable TV distribution splitter is still down in the box under the house.

Wiring bundle

The servers are a Dell PowerEdge 1800 and an old Compaq P4 workstation. The Dell is running SBS 2008 and the Compaq is running Windows 2003 and ISA 2006. The black box on top of the Dell server is a disk enclosure with 4 500Gb SATA drives, RAID 5 configuration, for a total of 1.5Tb storage.

Here is detail of the networking equipment showing Linksys cable modem, Fortinet Fortigate-50b firewall, 2 Hewlett-Packard P1800-8 managed Gigabit switches, and the patch panel.

Digital thermometer in front

For those so inclined, here is the network diagram.

Evolution of an idea

Most of this winter, work on 118 Henry Street was all about energy efficiency. Though not very photogenic, and certainly not glamorous, the results of stopping air infiltration, adding insulation, and improving the thermal boundaries have not only paid off monetarily, but, have also made a conspicuous improvement in our winter comfort level.

The general philosophy of stopping air infiltration is plug the air holes from largest to smallest, from upper stories to lower stories. The largest of our air holes were 3 “closets” that were doors opening up directly into the attic space.  See here for the closet in the west upstairs bedroom.

The second of these unmanaged thermal boundaries was behind a door on the stairs landing. This space is partially under the new metal roof and was insulated last spring. See here.

Unfortunately, there was still tremendous air exchange between inside the house and the attic.

The space was oddly shaped and really didn’t make a very good storage closet so we decided to turn it into a server closet for our henrystreet.net network equipment.

Looking in to the attic space before


In progress, thermal barrier in place


All the walls and the ceiling are insulated with fiberglass insulation, all the cracks and holes are sealed with caulk or expanding foam. The wiring boxes have foam rubber inserts to seal around the wires going thru the wall.

Pretty much done and in use


Odd shot of servers, networking equipment, and attic access


As part of this work, Howard, Carole’s son, and I re-ran all the network and cable TV wiring for the entire house.  Originally, I had wired the house and terminated it in the crawlspace. The re-wire was 2 days worth of work that paid off big for the extra convenience of having all the equipment easily accessible.

Oh, and by the way, we plugged the big air hole.

Just in time for spring

I had hoped to work outside all weekend on the exterior of the house, but yesterday was very stormy. Significant spring storms made for tornado watches all over the western part of the state. Thunderstorms and heavy rain kept us indoors all day Saturday.

We used the rainy day to insulate the little back attic space above DeShawn’s bedroom. Entering this part of the back attic is thru this tiny access door I built and is quite tight.

About 14 inches wide

Since January, we had been slowly replacing all the insulation under the new metal roof over top the kitchen and back attic space. The space above DeShawn’s room was the last left to do.

Here’s what it used to look like over the kitchen when we were building the new roof in October:

All good for your allergies

When we had the roof off last year, we cleaned out most of the old insulation but there was still a bit left under the windows in the above photo. I cleaned the remainder out in January (6 garbage bags full) completely vacuumed it all, and plugged all the holes in the ceiling with spray foam/caulking. The net result in the same area as above (but from a different angle) is shown here:

Knee wall to the right is under the windows in other pic

A 180 turn from the above picture’s perspective has this view:

Toasty warm thanks to Deborah and Mike!

This publication from the Fed’s EnergyStar program is great for old houses. The techniques for dealing with knee walls and air infiltration were especially applicable to 118 Henry Street. After all was said and done, even Carole could tell the difference in the kitchen.

As part of this insulation project, we had to re-wire the kitchen lights with modern electrical wire. The original knob and tube wiring is very prone to overheating when surrounded with modern insulation. About 40% of my time on this insulation project was actually spent doing the re-wire.

Knobs and tubes

All and all, the re-wiring, plugging all the air infiltration holes, and insulating the attic space had a very satisfying and noticeable conclusion. There’s still work to be done in the attic but nice to feel the difference so far.