Cape cod insulation question

Discussion in 'Insulation and Radiant Barriers' started by centaurette, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Feb 18, 2012 #1

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi all,

    I'm new and have read thru most of the forums but no one seems to have the exact scenario as us so I'm throwing this out there for some advice. It's a long read but I'm trying to paint a more detailed picture. :eek:

    We bought a home built in 1944 in northeastern PA. It's a stucco Cape Cod with a finished attic consisting of 2 bedrooms and a closet...AND a slate roof. It is freezing cold in my daughter's room on the west side where the other bedroom isn't as bad. Upon further self-inspection, the insulation leaves a lot to be desired. There are 2 side attics and the roof attic. One side attic has NO venting at all except the 2 access doors...one in each bedroom. The other side attic has vents covered with mesh at the ends of the roof rafters (no soffits) that, for the most part are approx the same size as a electrical outlet rough-in hole and an access door from 1 bedroom...the warmer one. There is also a mesh-covered square hole on the west wall about 3' up from the first floor ceiling joists near the knee wall. The roof attic has 2 gables vents that consist of mesh and a closeable flap that is controlled from within the bedrooms thru the window framing. There is also a push-up access panel in the ceiling of the colder bedroom. I'm not 100% positive, but I don't believe there is a ridge vent. (If needed, I can provide pics).

    We just bought this home in June '11 so this is our first winter here. While I realize the attic, as a whole, needs more insulation (old black-papered insulation with the paper facing away from knee wall and stapled to studs...some areas missing insulation altogether), I'm trying to come up with a plan of action towards redoing the attic the right way. We are extremely limited in funds so we would probably have to piece-meal it so what should we tackled first? Btw, there is no exhaust fan in the bathroom(using a table fan on the counter til we install the new one we bought...not
    sure where to exhaust it to without messing up the slate shingles) so there's a bit of moisture in the house which ties into the attic insulation question.
    I'm not sure how it should be vented or if it's already vented correctly. I'm not sure whether the roof space where the knee wall and gable attic meet should be insulated. I. Just. Don't. Know...where to start or how to progress. One project seems to link to another and my mind just spins in circles. :eek:

    Advice would be GREATLY appreciated and I will provide as much clarification as I can if needed.
     
  2. Feb 18, 2012 #2

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Messages:
    10,818
    Likes Received:
    1,435
    Well, quit spinning in circles, it just makes you dizzy. We all have projects where ambitions exceeds fundings, remember, home improvement is a lot like eating an elephant, you have to do it one bite at a time. ;)

    If you could post some pics it would help greatly to recommend a course of action to help solve the issues you have.

    Oh, and :welcome: to House Repair Talk!
     
  3. Feb 19, 2012 #3

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can do on the pics...will post them on my next day off which is Monday. :D Not sure about stopping the spinning. Seems my life is never complete without chaos! ;) And thank you for the warm welcome. :)
     
  4. Feb 19, 2012 #4

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    All the windows in the house were replaced with what seems to be cheaper double-hung replacement windows (done while the original owner was still alive and living here). Some of the windows in the house, including the 2 upstairs bedrooms, still have the old storm windows on the outside of the replacement windows. The rest of the windows in the house with this setup are a LOT warmer and less draftier than the ones without...all except my daughter's room. I actually had to shrink plastic the windows (there's 2 side-by-side) because on windy days, it felt like the AC was on - there was that much of a draft. I'm thinking they were never insulated right during installation, but is it possible for the gable vents that are above the windows to aid in this phenomenon?:confused:
     
  5. Feb 20, 2012 #5

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    The bathroom fan is where I would start, it wants to vent straight up thru the roof with insulated duct as straight as posible. Hire a roofer to deal with the tile.
     
  6. Feb 20, 2012 #6

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Let me know if there's any more pics you'd like to see.

    2012-02-20 08.42.34.jpg

    2012-02-20 08.44.14.jpg

    2012-02-20 08.43.12.jpg
     
  7. Mar 1, 2012 #7

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Much appreciated, nealtw! As I realize this is the cheapest place to start, the main issue is determining the correct venting and/or possibly TOO much venting in the attic. On windy days, the side attic with no direct exterior venting (gable or soffit vents) has a definite airflow because the breeze whistles through the access door in my daughter's room. I just don't know if it's all correct...or effective.
     
  8. Mar 1, 2012 #8

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    This what you would like to have. If you have baffles between the the roof sheeting and the sloped ceiling the lower gable vent will just supply a short cercuit for the air and air will not pull from the soffit vents.

    hq4179_weekly_mshea_ohwblogpic_finattic_bill1.jpg
     
  9. Mar 2, 2012 #9

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Our house doesn't have soffits...just the end board with rectangular holes with mesh over them (some evenly spaced and some grouped closer towards the corner of the house). I was thinking that we should add them, but I don't know if it's just a matter of extending the roof joists by sistering up another piece of wood or if it would take more than that...or if we even HAVE to have them. I haven't thoroughly examined what is up where you suggest the baffles should be. I'm figuring probably just insulation.

    Btw, the image helps...a lot!:clap: Should there be (our version) of soffit vents on the front of the house too because as it stands right now, they are only located on the back of the house?
     
  10. Mar 2, 2012 #10

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

    oldognewtrick

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2009
    Messages:
    10,818
    Likes Received:
    1,435
    Yes, you are correct, intake ventilation should be on the front also.
     
  11. Mar 2, 2012 #11

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    http://www.bendtek.com/Vented_Drip_Edges.htm
    There are a few vented drip edges on the market now, perhaps you could make one of them work instead of adding to the rafters.
    The baffles in the the picture is a foam or plastic form against the roof sheeting to hold the insulation away from the sheeting, you should have them in every bay in the sloped ceiling and above the outside walls. What happens is that some heat is lost in these areas and if it stays there it can melt snow and refreeze causing an icedam. So what you want is for the that heat to move thru the attic and leave the vents at the top of the roof.
     
  12. Mar 3, 2012 #12

    GBR

    GBR

    GBR

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Messages:
    402
    Likes Received:
    38
    I’d start with the bath fan also, run it along the floor joist in the bath ceiling to the closest location- back of the house is better. Stay off the slate roof. The gable end vents may be enough for the knee wall attic, one at each end. Same as my craftsman house, no soffit venting. So long as you don’t have moisture problems in the attics or ice dams. Weather-strip the access door as said, use the foam outlet/switch covers throughout. Caulk the drywall/plaster around the outlets/fixture/swathe boxes to stop air. Block the air movement under the knee walls and use housewrap on the vertical attic side of insulation to prevent degrading of R-value by wind-washing, cover the attic floor insulation with the extra: http://www.affordablecomfort.org/im...ThPM14_Cox_Beauty__&the_Beast_Upstars_sec.pdf

    http://www.habitat.org/env/pdf/ceiling_and_attic.pdf

    Add insulation the attic floors when you can afford it. Find your location near Cities below the map for Zone 5, or 6: http://publicecodes.citation.com/icod/irc/2009/icod_irc_2009_11_sec001_par001.htm

    Insulate to minimum Code, R-38-49 for your Zone: http://publicecodes.citation.com/icod/irc/2009/icod_irc_2009_11_sec002.htm

    Do what you can afford; any additional insulation is better than none. Air seal before insulating, using the existing f.g. to find all air leaks: http://www.finehomebuilding.com/PDF/Free/021105092.pdf

    Air seal the floor above from the basement/crawl to help control the air leaks there from feeding the stack effect to the attic. Foam board and air seal the rim joists as they leak air with the seasonal changes with expansion/contraction and solid wood is R-1.25 per inch.

    Gary
     
  13. Mar 7, 2012 #13

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thank you so much, guys! (And pics help immensely ;) thank you )

    We already bought the bath exhaust fan so it'll be a matter of getting a warm spell so I can tolerate working in the attic. Lol But, Gary, should I just end the exhaust venting at the end of the roof rafters and not hook it up to anything?

    I DID finally crawl up into the top attic to see what I could see. What I found that I believe to be part of the problem was this: No true gable vents, but make-shift "doors" that worked using a pull string (attached to a spring) through the window framing to open and close. It looks like there had been angled slats there at one point, but they've been removed for the most part. The "door" in the vent above my daughter's room worked more like a hatch door than a regular door like in my son's room. So...on cold windy days, the hatch "door" - when opened - would direct the air flow down the wall directly over the windows...WHERE THERE WAS NO INSULATION IN THE STUD CAVITIES in the 3 above the window!!! Holy crap, I was pissed! Lol I hate having to shove insulation in where there's tons of nail sticking out, but I came out virtually unscathed...thankfully. :clap: My back wouldn't agree so much...cape cod attics are not forgiving for taller people. Anyway, I put insulation in vertically all the way down to the window framing and then put an extra piece in horizontally at the top. This has made a HUGE difference, but if I pull back the shrink wrap on the windows, it still feels like I've got a window open...and the hatch "door" vent is closed until I go get REAL gable vents. So, without taking the window fully out, I'm not sure where that sizable draft is coming from.

    Second issue...neither interior wall of my kids' rooms that create the stairwell have top plates on them. That would explain why that wall felt almost as cold as the walls along the attic. Whoever had put extra insulation up there didn't bother putting any in my daughter's wall (since it's only about an inch gap) and they just laid sections of batts across the top of my son's wall...which is about 4"-5" gap. I just put shoved some insulation in there too for the time being.

    The good news...all the 2nd floor wiring is easily accessible from the top attic so now, I can replace all the old cloth-covered wire with new and not have to worry too much about fishing!!:D Sadly, not having the top plates on the walls make this a lot easier also!!

    Gary, nealtw, and old/new...you have been a TREMENDOUS help!! I have scoured the internet and so many people with cape cod issues and not a lot of answers. I'm thrilled I found this forum! :beer:

    I'm going to leave this thread active (if I can) as I KNOW I am going to come across an issue and not be sure how to fix it.

    Thanks again!!
     
  14. Mar 7, 2012 #14

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    The natural air flow is in the soffet vent and out the peak vents so the batheoom vent out the soffit is the last choice and if you put it there you want to close the soffit vents for 2ft on each side. We live on hills out here so we get to watch what happen to these vents. On cold days and someone has a shower you can see the vent operate near soffits, a lot of the vapour hangs around in the soffit area.
     
  15. Mar 9, 2012 #15

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok, got the bath fan in. Just have to hook up the duct line, cut the hole to the outside, and put the vent cap on. I had to overcut the hole to fit the fan in due to the type of installation required. My question is how can I repair the irregular plaster ceiling edges around the outside edge of the fan? Can I just sprayfoam or should I cut and try to get a piece of sheetrock in there? Some edges are about an inch and others are about 1/8-1/2". I'm just concerned because of it being in the bathroom and don't want to add moisture issues to the mix!

    Also, I found they put the effort into blocking drafts under the kneewalls by standing up a piece of drywall in the opening...no caulk or insulation...and the drywall wasn't even attached. :rolleyes: And, in pulling up the insulation for the bath fan, I've discovered that there's 3 sheets of faced insulation layered in the ceiling/floor joists. It looks like there used to be blown-in insulation, but to compensate for what was missing, they just layered batt insulation in there instead. The fact that they used faced batts (and put them so the facing of all 3 layers are facing the attic)...will that cause problems?
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  16. Mar 9, 2012 #16

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    Fitting the fan from above may have a little easier to get a close fit. Stopping any air flow is important and if the cover will hide your foam a guess that would work. The drywall left in the nee wall was someones trick for not hauling the garbage out. The faced insulation should be faced to the drywall.
     
  17. Mar 10, 2012 #17

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    No. It's an Air King BF90 (I think) and it is set up to be installed into a support bracket from underneath. Trying to get it in from above can only be done with lifting the arm of the bracket up and that defeats the purpose because it's to hold the fan up and against the joist. It's kind of like an upside down L with 2 little lips on the ends. You tilt the fan housing so it sits in the bottom lip then push the fan up until it clicks and locks into the top lip.

    I figured that, but my concern is about the other 2 layers. They also have facing on them and I was wondering if that extra facing will cause issues since it's between the layers of batts?
     
  18. Mar 12, 2012 #18

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    I guess you could just remove the paper off the extra batts.
     
  19. Mar 13, 2012 #19

    centaurette

    centaurette

    centaurette

    Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2012
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good idea. Lot of work though. Not looking forward to it. :( Anyway, as I was exploring more up in the side attic (since I was measuring the piping for the bath fan). I found this:

    The first pic is a hole in the exterior wall. It goes all the way down through the wall and if I'm guesstimating correctly, it exits into the basement about 6-8" below the kitchen subfloor. I thought it odd that I could feel cold air BLOWING into the basement, but this hole could explain it since there's plenty of air movement in the attic...especially there where there's a handmade vent in the fascia board directly at the end of the cavity. Thoughts on how to remedy this? I was thinking to pour concrete down it to fill it, but I don't know if there's any other exits besides the basement and don't want to risk that catastrophe.

    The 2nd pic is a gap running the length of the gable wall including underneath my son's exterior wall with the windows on it. Since it's a similar kneewall insulation issue, would I do the cavity the same way or should I attempt to clean out the dirt and resident insects and foam up the crack? The gap looks into the backside of the dining and kitchen walls.

    The 3rd pic is the corner of the 2 exterior walls and the hole is the precast hole of the block. That hole is directly over the corner of my kitchen. I have a tall cabinet in that corner and when you open the cabinet doors, you feel like you're opening a freezer with the blast of chilly air that comes out of it. I pulled off the pegboard because it was moldy and the plaster or whatever is starting to crumble of the wall behind it, but the draft was coming from the edge behind the cabinet closest the the corner of the 2 ext walls. This isn't the only spot that I see the precast holes of the blocks exposed, but are they an issue? I've also found perlite in the attic at least on the back side of the house...good, bad, neutral?? I haven't touched the front side attic yet - not that anxious to either. :eek:

    Dang it! If I wanted a fixer-upper, I would've paid a fixer-upper price for the house! I am SO tired of fixing everyone else's neglect or laziness. :mad: Oh well. We're here now.

    Thanks again guys for any help!

    2012-03-12 22.14.49.jpg

    2012-03-12 22.15.29.jpg

    2012-03-12 22.16.36.jpg
     
  20. Mar 13, 2012 #20

    nealtw

    nealtw

    nealtw

    Contractor retired

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Messages:
    23,899
    Likes Received:
    3,118
    Is this house built out of concrete block with stocco over foam on the outside. If it is the holes exposed to the attic should be at
    least covered with insulation.
    The perliet insulation should not be desturbed, If you have to move it to work, you should vacume it up to keep dust under control.
    The first picture, can't tell how big it is or what it is but the simple answer is firestopping. Solid wood, plywood or drywall in the attic and basement so a fire hasn't got a free run from one floor to another.
    The second picture. Can you explain better what we are looking at.
     

Share This Page