Insulating above electrical breaker panel


Old 12-29-09, 01:36 PM
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Location: Maryland
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Insulating above electrical breaker panel

Ok, I live in a 4-story townhouse with a garage on the first floor and the living room is on the second floor above. since the garage is not a conditioned space, the builder went strictly by code and only insulated walls that are shared with a conditioned space. So I have the entire front wall of the garage and a portion of the side wall (about 3 or 4 stud bays since the front door is set back from the front of the house) that are not insulated.

The stud bays on the side wall and above the garage door are easy to insulate. My question is I have my breaker panel on the front wall of the garage, in the 3-foot space between the garage door and side wall. I assume there is a lot of wiring in this location and am wondering how best to insulate/air seal this area so cold air does not seep up into the living room (as it currently does!). Should I just cut the top of the drywall near the ceiling and spray foam to seal any air gaps aruond the wiring and header? I don't think I should fill the space with insulation as I am concerned with heat build-up in the wiring. If it was one or two wires, I wouldn't be concerned, but if all the wiring is above the panel, that could start to build up some heat.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

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Old 12-29-09, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: New England
Posts: 9,995
Not an electrical pro, but I have never seen a properly sized wire get hot. If anything, one might get slightly warm, but that would be at full load and very few wires in a home operate at full load. The ones that draw more current are simply larger wires.

That being said, I would go sparingly with encapsulating everything, as that area is where future wiring must go, if and when needed. Some spray foams are like plastic glue and very difficult to remove. Others like DAP for windows is a zero expansion foam and dries to a chalk like material that breaks away easily. There are others, But I haven't tried them all, but that is the thinking.

You could also create a two piece access panel where you could open the top and stuff a portion of the cavity with cellulose. Then if an electrician needs to get in there to work, he just removes both panels and pulls all of the insulation out. When done the cavity gets re-stuffed. Cellulose is noted for it's density and ability to block air flow, but any dense insulation could be used.

There is also a fire rated foam that might be best for the holes going up through the walls.


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