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Bedroom above garage very cold + Foil Insulation in attic

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  #1  
Old 12-20-08, 11:04 AM
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 193
Bedroom above garage very cold + Foil Insulation in attic

Hey everyone. My wife and I are getting tired of sleeping with sweatshirts on We just bought our first home a year ago. Our bedroom is above the garage. Our house was built in the 50s.

A previous owner must have laid fiberglass insulation through most of the attic over what looks like some kind of useless foil insulation. They skipped installing insulation in the tight crawl-space above most of our bedroom which is above our garage (raised ranch style home).

I am wondering how effective this foil insulation is. It appears to be in the attic as well as the walls. Our bedroom is COLD most of the time

I thought of hiring out guys to come and spray insulation in that of the attic and also maybe our exterior walls, though we have 4 high-hat recessed lighting that needs at least 3" space to prevent fire. Any thoughts on if this would still be possible?

Any other recommendations? Should I just bite the bullet and get 75' of insulation and take care of the missing spots? Not worrying about the walls?

Any feedback is appreciated.

Fish
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  #2  
Old 12-20-08, 01:26 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,776
Ahhh the 50's, gas was below 20 cents a gallon and no one needed insulation, or very much of it. Your first step, which you may have already done, is to evaluate what you have, i. e. where your heat is going. Sometimes a little work in the right spot can go a long ways.

Pictures would help. type of heat? Consider changing those recessed lights to IC rated air sealed units. The energy you save will pay for the new ones. Here's an infrared image of a recessed light installed as you stated and this is without the blower door running, just day to day COLD.
http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/w...51/IR_0079.jpg
Here's some reading as well, deals with several issues you will want to know. Welcome To Home Energy Magazine Online

I'll watch your progress.
Bud
 

Last edited by Bud9051; 12-20-08 at 01:35 PM. Reason: picture didn't work
  #3  
Old 12-20-08, 01:46 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Hamilton County, Ohio
Posts: 4,286
Also check the garage door to be sure that it seals when closed. Otherwise any residual heat in the garage will be pulled out, chilling your bedroom even more.
 
  #4  
Old 12-20-08, 02:04 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: ohio
Posts: 195
I too have a house built in the 50s with a super cold room over the garage that was useless 6 to 8 months a year, but i FIXED it and cheaply. I will explain what i did but its going to be long sorry.
First let me say that you cannot cut any corners on this one if you want to be comfortable in there year round--all spots have to be fixed and here is why:
Your room over the garage if its like mine has a much larger heat load or requirement compared to the rest of the house. In that I mean that you really have a room with greater than normal exterior walls. Usually you have 2 normal exterior walls; the ceiling (where you have no insulation above) a short wall with a slope called a kneewall probably exposed to cold attic air behind it, and then the floor resting over the garage which in effect is acting like a large exterior wall. Thats 5 different surfaces exposed to cold conditions with probably a bad insulation/airsealing job done on them. Adding to that this room usually is furthest from the furnace and if there are duct issues there is no hope. My room didnt improve even after getting a new furnace, but was only solved after i did all the insulation correctly.
You dont mention where you are located but if its in a cold climate you need at least R38 to R49 in the attic area. You also need to figure out if the light cans are IC (insulation contact) rated. If not then you cannot put any kind of insulation close to them. If they are not and you cant fit yourself into the attic there to build a box of foamboard around them then I would change them out and put something there rated ic.
For all my insulation I blew in cellulose myself. Since the attic over the garage was so small i attached a long pvc pipe to the hose and did it from afar from a small opening to the main attic and then thru an opened gable vent on the other side.
Next for the kneewall where i had no access i cut a hole in a closet to see what was there: a space about 1.5 feet wide 20 feet long and 5 ft high with no insulation. Such an enormous wall will allow a huge amount of heat transfer out of the room. i dense packed it with about 30 bags of cellulose so it wouldnt settle. Then i did all the other walls including the slopes by drilling 3 inch holes per stud bay checked for fire stops and snaked a long 2inch flexible plastic hose up to the top of each stud bay and dense packed those as well crushing my existing 1 inch thick fiberglass batt insulation there.
Lastly, but most involved, i had drilled a few test holes in my garage ceiling to see what was there. I found 2 inches of fiberglass laying on the garage ceiling in each joist bay with about 1 foot of empty space up to the subfloor of the room above. All that space allowed cold air to circulate on my floor sapping any heat getting into the room. For insulation to be effective it has to be in continuous contact with the surface its insulating. So I drilled multiple holes in each joist bay (note i saved all my plugs for all this and glued them back in later) and then proceeded to blow in dense packed cellulose after calculating how much I needed;about another 30 bags. All in all I used around 75 bags costing me $550 including other materials just for that one room. Of course I also did all the other I too have a house built in the 50s with a super cold room over the garage that was useless 6 to 8 months a year, but i FIXED it and cheaply. I will explain what i did but its going to be long sorry. First let me say that you cannot cut any corners on this one if you want to be comfortable in there year round--all spots have to be fixed and here is why:
Your room over the garage if its like mine has a much larger heat load or requirement compared to the rest of the house. In that I mean that you really have a room with greater than normal exterior walls. Usually you have 2 normal exterior walls; the ceiling (where you have no insulation above) a short wall with a slope called a kneewall probably exposed to cold attic air behind it, and then the floor resting over the garage which in effect is acting like a large exterior wall. Thats 5 different surfaces exposed to cold conditions with probably a bad insulation/airsealing job done on them. Adding to that this room usually is furthest from the furnace and if there are duct issues there is no hope. My room didnt improve even after getting a new furnace, but was only solved after i did all the insulation correctly.
You dont mention where you are located but if its in a cold climate you need at least R38 to R49 in the attic area. You also need to figure out if the light cans are IC (insulation contact) rated. If not then you cannot put any kind of insulation close to them. If they are not and you cant fit yourself into the attic there to build a box of foamboard around them then I would change them out and put something there rated ic.
For all my insulation I blew in cellulose myself. Since the attic over the garage was so small i attached a long pvc pipe to the hose and did it from afar from a small opening to the main attic and then thru an opened gable vent on the other side.
Next for the kneewall where i had no access i cut a hole in a closet to see what was there: a space about 1.5 feet wide 20 feet long and 5 ft high with no insulation. Such an enormous wall will allow a huge amount of heat transfer out of the room. i dense packed it with about 30 bags of cellulose so it wouldnt settle. Then i did all the other walls including the slopes by drilling 3 inch holes per stud bay checked for fire stops and snaked a long 2inch flexible plastic hose up to the top of each stud bay and dense packed those as well crushing my existing 1 inch thick fiberglass batt insulation there.
Lastly, but most involved, i drilled a few test holes in my garage ceiling to see what was there. I found 2 inches of fiberglass laying on the garage ceiling in each joist bay with about 1 foot of empty space up to the subfloor of the room above. All that space allowed cold air to circulate on my floor sapping any heat getting into the room. For insulation to be effective it has to be in continuous contact with the surface its insulating. I then drilled multiple holes in each joist bay (note i saved all my plugs and glued them back in later) and then proceeded to blow in dense packed cellulose after calculating how much I needed;about another 30 bags. All in all I used around 75 bags costing me $550 including other materials. Of course I did all the other I too have a house built in the 50s with a super cold room over the garage that was useless 6 to 8 months a year, but i FIXED it and cheaply. I will explain what i did but its going to be long sorry. First let me say that you cannot cut any corners on this one if you want to be comfortable in there year round--all spots have to be fixed and here is why:
Your room over the garage if its like mine has a much larger heat load or requirement compared to the rest of the house. In that I mean that you really have a room with greater than normal exterior walls. Usually you have 2 normal exterior walls; the ceiling (where you have no insulation above) a short wall with a slope called a kneewall probably exposed to cold attic air behind it, and then the floor resting over the garage which in effect is acting like a large exterior wall. Thats 5 different surfaces exposed to cold conditions with probably a bad insulation/airsealing job done on them. Adding to that this room usually is furthest from the furnace and if there are duct issues there is no hope. My room didnt improve even after getting a new furnace, but was only solved after i did all the insulation correctly.
You dont mention where you are located but if its in a cold climate you need at least R38 to R49 in the attic area. You also need to figure out if the light cans are IC (insulation contact) rated. If not then you cannot put any kind of insulation close to them. If they are not and you cant fit yourself into the attic there to build a box of foamboard around them then I would change them out and put something there rated ic.
For all my insulation I blew in cellulose myself. Since the attic over the garage was so small i attached a long pvc pipe to the hose and did it from afar from a small opening to the main attic and then thru an opened gable vent on the other side.
Next for the kneewall where i had no access i cut a hole in a closet to see what was there: a space about 1.5 feet wide 20 feet long and 5 ft high with no insulation. Such an enormous wall will allow a huge amount of heat transfer out of the room. i dense packed it with about 30 bags of cellulose so it wouldnt settle. Then i did all the other walls including the slopes by drilling 3 inch holes per stud bay checked for fire stops and snaked a long 2inch flexible plastic hose up to the top of each stud bay and dense packed those as well crushing my existing 1 inch thick fiberglass batt insulation there.
Lastly, but most involved, i drilled a few test holes in my garage ceiling to see what was there. I found 2 inches of fiberglass laying on the garage ceiling in each joist bay with about 1 foot of empty space up to the subfloor of the room above. All that space allowed cold air to circulate on my floor sapping any heat getting into the room. For insulation to be effective it has to be in continuous contact with the surface its insulating. I then drilled multiple holes in each joist bay (note i saved all my plugs and glued them back in later) and then proceeded to blow in dense packed cellulose after calculating how much I needed;about another 30 bags. All in all I used around 75 bags costing me $550 including other materials. Of course i did all the other walls in my house after this room and the total cost for the entire house was about 950.
This you can see was ALOT of work as a DIY but when i was done i had a room that heats/cools like the rest of the house and not 15-20 degrees cooler in winter like i had. If you have the money you can go the fast way and just pay someone to put in some supplemental heat in the room and be done with it but it wont be cheap to install or run in the winter. Getting someone to foam it might have worked as well but again not cheap and after all the inspections i did of the room I highly doubt they would have been as thorough as I was about the job.
For your specific situation you need to see if you are getting enough air to the room. Does it have its own ducts/registers and how many? How many return air ducts do you have in the room and on the 2nd floor? Can you adjust the airflow via existing dampers? Check to see what kind if any insulation you have in the walls drill a small pencil thin hole to see. Also if you have a kneewall what is behind it?. Look also in the garage ceiling and drill some holes to see what is in there. Drilling some small holes is the only way you will know for sure.
Sorry again this is so long but I wanted to help out. I glossed over alot of details on exactly how i did everything I think but if you or anyone else is interested just ask n i'll tell and give some good links too.

This you can see was ALOT of work as a DIY but when i was done i had a room that heats/cools like the rest of the house and not 15-20 degrees cooler in winter like i had. If you have the money you can go the fast way and just pay someone to put in some supplemental heat in the room and be done with it but it wont be cheap to install or run in the winter. Getting someone to foam it might have worked as well but again not cheap and after all the inspections i did of the room I highly doubt they would have been as thorough as I was about the job.
For your specific situation you need to see if you are getting enough air to the room. Does it have its own ducts/registers and how many? How many return air ducts do you have in the room and on the 2nd floor? Can you adjust the airflow via existing dampers? Check to see what kind if any insulation you have in the walls drill a small pencil thin hole to see. Also if you have a kneewall what is behind it?. Look also in the garage ceiling and drill some holes to see what is in there. Drilling some small holes is the only way you will know for sure.
Sorry again this is so long but I wanted to help out. I glossed over alot of details on exactly how i did everything I think but if you or anyone else is interested just ask n i'll tell and give some good links too.
 
  #5  
Old 12-20-08, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,125
Bedroom above garage very cold + Foil Insulation in attic

fishn -

What part of the world do you live in and what is the climate?

Two obvious points/questions.

1. Is there insulation in the celing that separates the garage from the bedromm above?

2. The foil is worthless because it is probably too dirty to reflect anything. It has a shor life as a reflective insulation.

Dick
 
  #6  
Old 12-20-08, 03:23 PM
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Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 193
Thanks for all the (detailed) replies!!!

Here's a few more details on my situation as requested. The heat in the house is Hot Water Radiators. A/C is central air (though the cold winters is more of a problem then the hot summers). We are in North Jersey so we have a good varied climate.

Here's a shot of the front of the house. You can see our bedroom above the left garage.


The High-Hats in the ceiling are not insulated or heat rated. I have to keep the insulation away from them. I am comfortable enough with electrical wiring to replace them myself but it may be tough to do as getting in and out of that area let alone maneuvering i not easy. Building a foam box probably wouldnt be too difficult around them I guess. OR maybe some metal flashing would work well. They are very wide at the ceiling area probably spreading to about 8". WIth the wiring I'm not sure how easily I can get around them, but I can try.

I recently ran an ethernet wire through the attic and down the exterior wall (following a cable wire). It easily made it down to the junction box in the exterior wall with hitting much of anything. I have a feeling that there is only this foil-like paper in those exterior walls as there are in the interior walls visible from a part of the attic.

I like the idea of blowing in cellulose myself. Do they rent those blowers? I do have a vent on the far side of the room so accessing the attic from that area is doable with a long PVC pipe as one of you did.

As for the garage ceiling. I'll have to drill and see whats in there and report back. I'm guessing its pretty empty.

Lots to be done to get this where I'd like it to be. The room isn't THAT bad. Its probably about 6 deg colder than the rest of the house.

Thanks for the feedback!

Dave
 
  #7  
Old 12-20-08, 04:42 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: ohio
Posts: 195
Yes the blowers can be rented from the big box stores like lowes and HD for free if you get at least 10 bags. Some complain about the quality of them but the one i had worked just fine.
Looking at the pic of your house i'd for sure check to see if theres sheathing for the bedroom wall next to the right garage or if its open to that small attic area. Also the same for the floor of the bedroom--could be open on the side and letting air run right under the floor area.
Be sure to read the link above from home energy magazine. i found that link myself over a yr ago and since i have a 2 storey cape cod used it like a bible.
Also here is another excellent book I have found and you wont regret buying it. Insulate and Weatherize: Expert Advice from Start to Finish
 
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