advice on older home comfort.
house was built in the early 20's. Still original plaster in most of the house. windows are single pane, double hung, with good wall coverage. roof is relatively new, attic (house is a 4 square) has a finished room in a large portion (unclimatized), but has access hatches to the remainder of the attic which is plywood over joists for storage. There are roof vents on 3 of the 4 sides of the roof. In the attic space, there is older r-?(13 at MOST) in the joist cavities, with the facing to the bedroom sides. Along the walls of the attic room is r-13 unfaced in the studs and along the roof deck there is r13 in the bays faced into the attic space. at the lowest part of the roof, (but not yet to the soffit) there is some kind of blown in white substance (possibly vermiculilte, but I think this was done recently), but I dont think this goes all the way into the soffit. The soffit is NOT vented at all. The upper part of the roof (above the finihed room) is not ventilated, accessible, or insulated (I had to remove some drywall to fix a ceiling light) but is probably not fully broken from the lower roof other than by the r-13 bats in the roof deck.
Ok - now that that is out of the way.!
Our upstairs is very uncomforatble this time of year. Our master bedroom especially. It is in the southeast corner of the house and will be 5-10 degrees warmer than other rooms in our upstairs, including the mirror image room adjoining it (northeast) with the same windows open.
Obviously a lot of the conversation with this would need to be hand by someone onsite as a lot of this is hard to describe, but what am I missing that this is so hot? The other big issue is that the upstairs seems to be holding in the heat quite a bit more than I would suspect it should. For example, it was 85 in our bedroom last night, and when we woke up it was only down to 83 despite being in the low 70's last night and with all the windows open and the ceiling fan running the whole time.
I've had mixed responses regarding the insulation of the attic room, should the access hatches be open or sealed, should the atttic be soffit vented, should the roof even be vented (FYI, I suspect the roof was redone about 3 years ago, and thats when the r-13 was placed on the deck. They had covered the roof vents, although I suspect that was the previous home owner - unless there was a reason to cover them....). Should the deck be insulated or should we pull up as much of the floor as we can and fit as much insulation into the bays as possible (the joists are not very deep).
We are actually going to switch bedrooms to one I percieve to be cooler because this is getting so obnoxious.
Sorry for the long winded post.
Ok - that
In a new house you would find soffit vents and plastic air shoot stapled to the under side of the roof deck with batt insulation over the exterior wall. In a cold zone you would have vapour barrier to the warm side or the living space. Roof vents big enough for the space and placed so the don't draw air from each other. The rafters over a living space like you attic room would be 2x10 to allow for 8" of insulation and air flow above that.
Here's a chart on what insulation levels should be in your home by area.
Sounds like you may have less then 1/2 of what's needed.
Any house needs to have soffit vents with air flow all the way to the peak of the roof. The best vent for a roof is ridge vents in most cases. It vents the whole roof not just a circle like other vents. With ridge vents you do not need the gable vents anymore if there area any.
If you were to install replacement windows you would see way more then enough savings on HVAC to get a pay back in a very short time and never have to paint them again.
It is my understanding that these old 4-squares were designed to be cooled by airflow. Modern insulating often defeats the old style airflow designs, but insulation is still a good thing!
I assume with a 4-square you have a hipped roof, possibly with 1 or more gables. If you are able to get the top of the "pyramid" insulated that will probably help temps in the attic. Roof venting for these types of roof can be tricky, so I won't even venture a guess on a good solution for that.
Now for my :2cents: about a cheap and easy solution for now:
My grandma lives in a modified 4-square with no heating/cooling for the second floor bedrooms. In the summertime, we always slept with open windows and a fan facing outward in either the stairwell window or an unused bedroom. For best results, you should be able to close off your upstairs from the downstairs and also shut the doors of any unused bedrooms. Grandma has an old accordian-style folding door across the top of the stairs but a blanket would work too (unless you are using a stairwell window, then block off the stairs below the level of the window) Her house also has doors to close off the entry hall from the rest of the downstairs. With our bedroom windows open about 4-6 inches, this produced a good enough breeze to cool us off while sleeping. During the day, the window blinds were pulled to keep the sunlight and heat out. Also, Grandma moved the bed in front of the windows in the summer to take the best advantage of the breeze.
Wouldn't surprise me if you are getting super-heated air that accumulates all day long in the attic and attic scuttles (between the kneewalls and rafters/sheathing), drawn across the bedroom's ceiling all night long. Chief culprits would be lack of adequate insulation as stated by others, and lack of proper ventilation in the attic and scuttle areas.
You could save yourself some grief by bringing in an insulation professional to look things over, and possibly give you a quote to make things right. You can tag along as he does his walk-through, picking his/her brain as to what he/she thinks is wrong and what it will take to make it right. Even if you choose to perform corrective work yourself, you will have a path forward from someone who makes their living at doing these things, and that can be worth a lot. I've personally blown too many bags of rock wool and cellulose insulation (not to mention a few jillion batts of fiberglass) into hot, stuffy attics to ever want to do it again--great way to lose a lot of weight, quick, but writing a check is so much easier. However, if you're young and ambitious, just go for it.
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