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Old 09-12-2011, 07:30 AM   #1
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My Attic - What Else Can I Do?


At the beginning of this year, I installed some R33 over the hottest part of my house, which you'll see in the pics below. By the time I was ready to buy more insulation to do another portion of my attic, it was already getting too hot for me to want to be in there. So, that being said, I haven't done ANYTHING else with my attic this year.

I live in the Charleston area of SC. My winter heating bills are reasonable. My summer cooling bills however are exorbitant in my opinion! They almost double from my heating bill...

I have a vaulted living room which is on the back of the house, which gets FULL afternoon sun all day long. I leave my AC unit set on 77 degrees and on 90+ degree days, my AC unit will run for 12-14 hours STRAIGHT. It's old. The attic unit is less than 10 years old but the outside unit is the original from 1980. I don't have money flowing freely so I'm doing what I can to help assist that unit for a couple more years at least. Unrealistic perhaps but it's what I'm doing now.

Anyway. Pictures.


This is the section over my living room and kitchen. I can obviously only insulate one side of my living room ceiling because of the vault. And of course the part I can't get to is the HOT side of the house.


This is the section just to the left of the first pic, the area over my kitchen and laundry room which is still in the hot side of the house with the direction the sun comes over and sits for most of the day. You can see here that because of the small area, they did blown insulation here. I wanted to install the roll insulation here because I AM little enough to get in those places, but I haven't gotten that far. And based on recommendations I may get here, I may change my mind on persisting on as much rolled insulation as possible.




These two pics show my DIY special on adding the batts over the part of the ceiling for my living room. I think it has made a SMALL difference in this year's bill, but obviously not enough to make a real dent in my bill.


This is the area towards the cooler side of the house. If I remember correctly, it's mostly blown insulation over there as well.

I wanted to install radiant barrier on the roof side in the attic because my primary beast is the heat. Any thoughts on what I should or shouldn't do here?

I read in another thread about getting the blown insulation and putting it in trash bags and taking it up there I guess to help avoid the additional expense of renting the blower. Is that something I would do here?

Anyway, thanks in advance

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Old 09-12-2011, 10:08 PM   #2
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My Attic - What Else Can I Do?


What is the venting in the attic like? I see gable vents at the ends but are there any soffit or make up air vents.

A radiant barrier might provide some relief but it is no solution for an improper insulation layer.

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Old 09-12-2011, 10:16 PM   #3
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What is the venting in the attic like? I see gable vents at the ends but are there any soffit or make up air vents.

A radiant barrier might provide some relief but it is no solution for an improper insulation layer.
I *believe* I have soffit vents. I know some terminology for a good bit of stuff but others not so much. Basically, I know I have vents on the underside of the eaves/overhang on the house, but from up in the attic, I can't honestly tell you where those things would be.
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:51 PM   #4
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My Attic - What Else Can I Do?


I would make sure that you have proper vent chutes along the underside of the roof deck over that vaulted ceiling to get proper ambient air flow from the eaves.
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:01 AM   #5
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I would make sure that you have proper vent chutes along the underside of the roof deck over that vaulted ceiling to get proper ambient air flow from the eaves.
How would I check for that?
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Old 09-14-2011, 07:54 AM   #6
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the link below tells about vent chutes and has a picture of what they look like. they should be lined up with your soffits to allow airflow into the attic.

rafter heat barriers

i'm curious about the other side of your vaulted ceiling that's not pictured - is that just drywall, insulation and then roof? it sounds like you could use a lot more insulation and better ventilation on that side if i'm understanding correctly.
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:21 AM   #7
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the link below tells about vent chutes and has a picture of what they look like. they should be lined up with your soffits to allow airflow into the attic.

rafter heat barriers

i'm curious about the other side of your vaulted ceiling that's not pictured - is that just drywall, insulation and then roof? it sounds like you could use a lot more insulation and better ventilation on that side if i'm understanding correctly.
When it gets a little cooler (maybe this weekend!), I'll get back up there and check for sure. Those baffles looked interesting!

Here's a pic to show what's beyond the AC unit on the other side of the house which is actually cooler, but it's because it's not sitting in full sun all day long.


Last edited by lpyrbby; 09-15-2011 at 06:21 AM. Reason: Goofed pic share
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:38 PM   #8
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i am not absolutely sure that i understand so i want to try to clarify. in the 1st picture you have posted - this is the attic above the kitchen (the left side) and the part that slopes up on the right is half of your vaulted ceiling where you are having heat problems. the heat problem is due to the other side of the vault that does not have attic space above it. is this correct? if this is the case, you will need to insulate and vent above the side where the problem is - the side with no attic space. you can put all the insulation you want on the cool side but that will not fix the problem on the hot side. you will probably have to take down the ceiling drywall inside the living room on the hot side since there is no attic access to assess your needs. a radiant barrier sounds like it might help, proper ventilation and some serious insulation will probably solve the problem. i would bet that you don't have enough insulation for your area. recommendations for insulation r-value by region can be seen here:
http://www.naima.org/insulation-know...installed.html
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Old 09-15-2011, 06:41 PM   #9
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i am not absolutely sure that i understand so i want to try to clarify. in the 1st picture you have posted - this is the attic above the kitchen (the left side) and the part that slopes up on the right is half of your vaulted ceiling where you are having heat problems. the heat problem is due to the other side of the vault that does not have attic space above it. is this correct?
Yes, this is the case.

Taking down ceiling sounds absolutely dreadful I'm researching trees to plant right now for the area back there as alternatives to help block so much direct sun from hitting the house. And yes, I agree, more insulation is needed. Hopefully I can get in the attic again this weekend and really try to look and see if I'm missing anything else.
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Old 09-15-2011, 07:40 PM   #10
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My Attic - What Else Can I Do?


There is rarely if ever a need to take down a ceiling for proper insulation. If there is insufficient insulation in the vaulted ceiling areas, dense packing cellulose (and even some new fiberglass products) can be done with some 2" holes that are easily patched. I'd recommend an energy audit. It would ID all of the problem areas of airflow and insufficient insulation through use of a blower door and thermal camera. Once it is identified, you can still do the work yourself, but at least you won't just be throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks.
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Old 09-15-2011, 10:01 PM   #11
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My Attic - What Else Can I Do?


I feel you're going at this wrong, given your location and pictures. That would be #1 of Joe’s top 10: http://www.joelstiburek.com/topten/south.htm

Have you researched unvented attics? See fig. 1 & 2 here: http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...c-ventilation/

It appears you are in that 45* climate zone mentioned in the article. Especially with all your AC and ducting only insulated to R-6 or so ---- in the attic.

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Old 09-26-2011, 06:20 PM   #12
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Just wanted to update, I haven't gotten up in my attic yet.

I've been trying to brainstorm other ideas for outside of the house to help bring shade to it. The insulation is only part of my problem. Ugh. I find it all very frustrating!

I'll get it figured out though.

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