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Tv89 05-10-2013 05:18 PM

Attic Insulation, Venting, and Rewiring Advice
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Grab a cup of coffee, your in for some reading.

So after living in my home I bought 10 months ago, I notice that the upstairs is really warm in the summer and cold in the winter. I live in NE Iowa. I can see that my AC and Heating is working overtime after looking at the bills. And that the units are always kicking on. So its spring and I decided to take a look at the attic. I had to remove a ceiling panel and push up on plywood to find a nightmare. I expected this when buying this home. But after looking around and seeing the way this home was build I was puzzled. So let me start to explain....

First, what i'm dealing with. The roof style is definitely different. Its a cross between a cross-gable and a hip with a flat top. As you can see in my "masterpiece" of a drawing, how it looks. The North corners have a "side attic" or knee wall. Those spaces are not accessible unless I cut a hole in the cabinet in the NE and sledge my way through plaster and lathe on the NW. The South corners have closets built in but more on this later. Some of the house has newer wiring but what i found in the attic was Knob & Tube wiring. To my surprise, its in actual good condition and must have be rewired 50 years ago. The porcelain is still good and shiny and the wires have a thick cloth that is dirty but in person looks new and flexible and not brittle. Now depending on further investigation, I may or may not rewire. The biggest load that ever runs is a fan in one room and maybe a hair dryer or curling iron for my fiance in the other room. After multiple times of reroofing, the attic is complete mess and full of derbis.

For insulation, it appears the cellulose insulation was installed a maybe a 10-20 years ago and besides being filthy, it isn't too bad of shape. The thing is, its only 3 inches deep so a R-10 at best. In the NorthEast side-attic, I can see some fiberglass batts on the second floor joists and none in the NorthWest side attic. The area above the South Corner closets seem to be full of cellulose.
My plan is to clean some of the large chunks of debris out and possibly rewire the Knob and Tube as said earlier. Put in some Rafter vents to prevent debris and insulation from clogging the soffit vent on the North side. I would blow in more cellulose to gain a 15" depth for around a R-50 rating. Then install Attic Foil double sided Radiant Barrier over the top of all the cellulose for an all-year benefit since I hope o never be up there after this project. As for the side attics, I would like to install R-20 batts to the living space walls with the Kraft facing the the living area and an air barrier on the attic facing side of the batts. Then fill the remaining floor with 15" cellulose and Radiant Barrier.

For Ventilation, there currently is a soffit vent on the NW and NE corners. Not sure on the SW or SE corners but if they do there isnt any path for air to travel since there are closets and with cellulose in between the rafters. There is perforated fascia around the house so I cant see the soffit vents. There is a Gable Vent on the North and South Wall. And after the latest roofing, there are Ridge Vents on all four Ridges. I'm afraid that with all the exhaust venting, a lot of air from the living space is being pulled out. Even though it gets very hot up there. So I want to increase the soffit vent size (they look about 2-3" in Diameter now) on the north corners and run rigid rafter vents to the South corners. I'll see if there is any soffit vents on that south corners and if not make some.

But I was wondering if this sounds good and see if I can bounce some input around. I don't really have the money to go crazy but I want to at least have a comfortable bedroom and not so high energy costs.

I apologize for my bad writing. Thanks for reading.

Tv89 05-10-2013 05:22 PM

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Nailbags 05-10-2013 09:01 PM

Well I can say the attic is a rats nest. Not that there are rats up there. I would clean that debre out and put in new blown Insulation at r 49 min. That should help you out.

Gary in WA 05-11-2013 10:14 PM

The K&T should not be insulation covered to permit cooling;


wkearney99 05-12-2013 01:43 AM

What shape is the roof in? Because it might take a lot less labor to get at the insulation and wiring by opening the roof instead of trying to crawl around.

Tv89 05-13-2013 10:52 AM

Yeah, I believe that a full clean out would be best. As for the K&T wiring, I need to take a closer look and see where they spliced it because there is no sign of it in the basement except left over knobs and tubes but no wires on them. If I can pin point where that is then I may have a chance at running romex from the splice to the attic which would make it possible. But if I can't then it could be a issue because I don't want to have ungrounded ground wires. I can not tear down the walls since its plaster and lathe and would become more of a project than I can handle all at once time and money wise.

wkearney99- I would love to open up the roof but It was just entirely reroofed last summer and they replaced everything down to the OSB board and I dont want to risk in creating a leak. I will mostly likely use the hole I made to access the attic and throw it all out the front vinyl sliding window.

wkearney99 05-13-2013 06:57 PM

Isn't just the way it always works out? You do a big job only to discover soon there was another one right under it... Bummer. Shame the roofer wasn't helpful enough to point out the sorry state of the insulation. You might want to follow up with them and let them know it'd be worth suggesting to folks when they do a whole roof job. If not for you, for the next guy.

Good luck on it!

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