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Old 02-01-2009, 09:36 AM   #1
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Cold air in cabinets


Can someone please help me? Three years ago we bought a completely gutted, remodeled house. We have extreme cold air coming out of the upper cabinets. I just don't know how the cold is getting in there. They are all enclosed. Thanking you in advance.

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Old 02-01-2009, 11:42 AM   #2
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Cold air in cabinets


I think the cabinets might have to come down off the wall. My guess is that the cabinets are on an exterior wall that is not insulated. In fact, you may need to remove everything installed up against this wall to insulate it if it is indeed an exterior wall. You will also lose a few inches in doing so.
Now if it is an interior wall, then the cold air is probally dropping down from the attic or interior roof area.
If you can get into the attic, check for holes that may be inline with the cabinets below and put some batt insulation in them. Be careful in attics. I seen some that have no flooring. One misstep and you will fall through the ceiling and get hurt.
However, you say this house was completly gutted and I find it hard to believe that the exterior walls were not insulated.
A little more investigation on your part is needed here.

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Old 02-01-2009, 12:32 PM   #3
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Cold air in cabinets


As Jordan said, more investigation is needed on your part.

First of all, what does "extreme cold air coming out of the upper cabinets" mean?
  • Is it the temperature of the outside air?
  • Is it actually blowing out? Can you trace it with a match flame?
  • If it does blow, can you relate the blowing to the increase of outside winds?
  • Is it ALL upper cabinets, or just some, or only one?
  • Is/are the back wall/walls of the cabinets coldest?
  • Is the top the coldest?
  • How do they compare with the base (lower) cabinets? Are they cold too?
  • Does anything change when the HVAC unit cycles on or off. Have you tried this?
These are things you can easily determine, and you need to know about all those things I mentioned to narrow down the culprit. And maybe you can see something that will give you even more ideas of what and where to check.
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:49 PM   #4
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Cold air in cabinets


This situation is quite normal! Doesn't matter how much insulation is between the warm side and the cold side! All insulation does is slow down heat loss! The more insulation, the slower the loss, however it will be lost sooner or later!
As heat is lost it must be replaced from another source, such as a furnace!
A heat source must be provided to the cabinet or closet to replace the heat loss through the wall.
Something as mundane as vent holes or a burning incandescent light bulb can be used, or an electric heater or even a heating duct!
As long as the lost heat is replaced, there's no problem!

Last edited by Wildie; 02-01-2009 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 02-05-2009, 11:52 AM   #5
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Cold air in cabinets


FG , I had a similar scenario. I live East of Detroit My galley kitchen cabinets had a bulkhead above them and no vapour or air barrier at that level attaching to a 10 ft long garage wall and 9 foot wide exterior wall. The draft entered the house and transferred across the floor joists above and then down the wall behind other oposing cabinets. In addition the insulation had gaps in it.

I have clear ceiling panels over lighting so I pulled the panesl and opened the bulkhreads to seal better and insulate and replace the fan vent with one which has a weighted damper... (Also had a range hood vent leaking cold in that same zone) Any of this sound familiar?

It got to the point where I was warming my cofee cups in hot water before pouring my 6 a.m. coffee.

Not quite 100% yet but its -20 today and I'm drinking hot coffee.
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Old 02-05-2009, 12:12 PM   #6
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Cold air in cabinets


Just because it was completely gutted & redone does not mean it was done correctly. Our outside wall cabinets & closets are always very cold compared to the rest of the house

Heat does not flow much into these spaces - so they cool off & stay cool
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Old 02-05-2009, 12:16 PM   #7
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Cold air in cabinets


Thank you for the reply. I will have to hire someone to check out the attic. I know exactly what you mean by having to warm up your coffee cup. I have done the same thing with plates and platters. Funny thing is if the cold air is getting in from the attic, wouldn't you think I would have cold bottom cabinets too?
My microwave sits above the stove so there is no cold air from there.
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Old 02-05-2009, 01:18 PM   #8
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Cold air in cabinets


Is your microwave a built in with venting and do you have bulkheads?

The cold air in my ceiling was travelling down the wall inside the bulkheads because the drywall did not go all the way to the ceiling behind the cabinets leaving abaouit a 6" gap below the top of the wall plates.

In addition the microwave venting hood was not closing allowing air to travel back inside and chill the same space.

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