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Old 10-23-2008, 12:03 PM   #16
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


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Thanks Jamie, sounds like fun! I was curious as to perceived warmth. I have been mulling this over since the inspection when I bought the house and am dreading high heat bills. Honestly, the bills suck but a drafty cold house is much worse to me. I am going to really try pulling together some money for the insulation before it gets too nasty outside. I am glad you made some progress, its supposed to be a cold winter this year!

After reading alot on this forum, it seems like you can blow in insulation over the flooring in the attic with good results (of course this is assuming your not using it for storage!!


Evan
Yes, correct, I should have been more clear, my 2nd story attics have flooring in them which is used for storage, they are both rather large attics and I need to keep them for storage. Thats why I was using batt insulation in there. Also there already is batt insulation in there, and without making a mess, I think that more batt is the only real way to go.

The upstairs attic, above the 2nd floor is fairly large, but is not used for storage, and I will just use the blow in cellulose.

It felt like it was staying warmer for a lot longer without running the furnace. Even with my current insulation, I was outside the other day and notice all the neighbors furnaces running very very frequently compared to mine. And my house is one of the largest ones around. So I have to assume that my the updated windows and insulation that I have done are helping to keep my house warmer and require less energy.

Jamie

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Old 10-23-2008, 12:11 PM   #17
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


Excellent, I have been getting the love letters from the utility company stating that they are about to kill me with bills for the winter! haha. This is my first house and I bought it about 6 months ago, doing my best to nip it in the bud so the initial shock of sub zero weather bills doesn't give me a heart attack.

Thanks again - Evan
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:14 PM   #18
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


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Excellent, I have been getting the love letters from the utility company stating that they are about to kill me with bills for the winter! haha. This is my first house and I bought it about 6 months ago, doing my best to nip it in the bud so the initial shock of sub zero weather bills doesn't give me a heart attack.

Thanks again - Evan
Do you have a high efficiency furnace installed? Duct work fairly well sealed up? thermo pane windows? Good insulated door? crawl space properly insulated?

Jamie
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:21 PM   #19
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


I have a fully finished basement, regular single pane windows with storm windows installed (that don't leak). I have a huge bay window and my sliding glass door are both dual layer windows. Duct work SEEMS well sealed but god only knows, its all wrapped in soffits etc.. from when they remodeled the basement. The work done elsewhere is good so I am hoping that everything is legit. Its a raised ranch, so the front of part of the downstairs is exposed to outside air.

Solid wood front door with no insulation on it. I will likely buy a storm door here shortly. It also has uninsulated windows on the sides. I will probably make storm windows for them (long/skinny).

I am in the process of painting outdoors, so I am being very particular about caulking etc..

House does not feel drafty, but when the temps really dip this winter I suspect it might.

My attic is 1200 sq/ft or so and needs about another foot of insulation in it. My garage is attached but is uninsulated (yikes) so if I can swing it I wanna blow in the attic up there too. I like to work in the garage during the winter. I had also planned on cutting foamboard to put over the window well windows (three of those).

Evan

BTW, not sure of the furnace age but I know it is in good mechanical condition.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:37 PM   #20
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


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Originally Posted by 240sx4u View Post
I have a fully finished basement, regular single pane windows with storm windows installed (that don't leak). I have a huge bay window and my sliding glass door are both dual layer windows. Duct work SEEMS well sealed but god only knows, its all wrapped in soffits etc.. from when they remodeled the basement. The work done elsewhere is good so I am hoping that everything is legit. Its a raised ranch, so the front of part of the downstairs is exposed to outside air.

Solid wood front door with no insulation on it. I will likely buy a storm door here shortly. It also has uninsulated windows on the sides. I will probably make storm windows for them (long/skinny).

I am in the process of painting outdoors, so I am being very particular about caulking etc..

House does not feel drafty, but when the temps really dip this winter I suspect it might.

My attic is 1200 sq/ft or so and needs about another foot of insulation in it. My garage is attached but is uninsulated (yikes) so if I can swing it I wanna blow in the attic up there too. I like to work in the garage during the winter. I had also planned on cutting foamboard to put over the window well windows (three of those).

Evan

BTW, not sure of the furnace age but I know it is in good mechanical condition.
As far as I know, thermopane windows with argon gas (They call them Low-e windows) are many times more efficient than any other type of window / storm window setup. You can get windows that don't need any storm type of window for around $100 and you can installed them fairly easily. Might be something to look at rather than trying to make storm windows.

I would also check to see if your gas furnace is a high efficiency furnace. Older furnaces can be only 75% efficient or less if now in prime condition. New furnaces run around 95% efficiency. 20% of your gas bill can mean a lot of dollars. With the amount I spend on gas in a winter (around $1500), 20% means several hundred dollars. A new furnace that you install yourself is only going to cost around $1200., without ac, give or take some variables.

Silicone is much better than caulk and only a little more expensive. Lasts almost forever, is flexible when necessary, waterproof, etc. Get tubes that say 100% pure silicone NOT siliconized caulk . It comes in multiple colors and clear. It is NOT paint-able.

Jamie
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:53 PM   #21
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


Hey Jamie,

I saw in your last pic that it looked like some batts were tucked down into the soffits.. If they are vented, keep the insulation away from them when you're updating.
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:56 PM   #22
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Thanks Jamie, I am going to start by properly insulating the attic. and sealing up holes then go from there. Ill bet money my furnace is not energy star compliant etc.. I do have A/C so that definitely changes things a bit. I am sure I can handle installation without a problem though. Ill definitely keep this in mind.

Evan
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:17 PM   #23
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


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Hey Jamie,

I saw in your last pic that it looked like some batts were tucked down into the soffits.. If they are vented, keep the insulation away from them when you're updating.
The soffits have no venting. Assuming that insulation is not blocking it, which is possible in a couple areas, but most areas it is allowing air flow to the attic. The sofits only air is what escape from the house to it and what can flow down or up in a path between the rafters from the attic.

The attic only has 3 vents, at the ends of the higher parts of the house, then one more vent at the end of the house where the roof is lower, all connected to the same attic.

I think that ridge vents are going to be necessary. However after 50 years with the house setup like this, I don't see mold, moisture, etc inside the soffit boxes when inspected from the attic. The attic all appears clean and moisture free, mold free, bug free.

I think the venting is mainly going to be for energy efficiency and not really to address any moisture or other building breathing problems.

I've been told earlier in this thread I believe that ridge vents are a good place to start. The roof is about 26 feet at the top and there is a pretty steep pitch. I've gone up there several times, but am not very comfortable with it. It is something that I am going to have to get help with or have someone else do.

In terms of soffit vents, I would not mind installing them. But I don't really know what is necessary or appropriate. Would it be wise to install any soffit vents now, knowing the ridge vents are not going to be done until some time in the future? Would the soffit vents help with energy efficiency?

Thanks for the suggestions. Sorry for all the questions.

Jamie
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Old 10-23-2008, 01:34 PM   #24
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


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The soffits have no venting.
Ah, nevermind then..

Quote:
In terms of soffit vents, I would not mind installing them. But I don't really know what is necessary or appropriate. Would it be wise to install any soffit vents now, knowing the ridge vents are not going to be done until some time in the future? Would the soffit vents help with energy efficiency?
IMO the soffit vents would be more important than the ridge vents, b/c you have gable vents on either side right now. I think someone touched on it in a previous post, but as the hot air rises and exits through the highest point (gable or ridge vents), cold air needs to be pulled in from the lowest point (soffits) to create good airflow.

I mean, if you install ridge and soffit venting, it would be all the better..

On the other hand, like you said, the house has been around for 50 years the way it is, so none of this is mission critical.

(Well, maybe the insulation.. saving $$ is always good ).
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Old 12-30-2008, 09:37 PM   #25
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


Well, so far so good my gas bills have been low.

We (my fiance' and I) blew in 30 bags of cellulose into the attic. Should be a solid R50 plus up there now. Insulation is between 15-17" deep. House seems a bit warmer, but then again we just did it. When it drops to 0 we shall see what happens.

Thanks for the encouragement, just wanted to update!!!

Evan
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Old 12-31-2008, 06:29 AM   #26
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Hi Guys,

ScottR makes a good point about checking for soffit venting. I'm involved in the same project as you so I though I would share what I've read so far.
There is a correct ratio of soffit to roof top ventilation. Companies who make ridge vents or rooftop venting generally will have a web site link to this info or a brochure listing it. The ratio may also be based on the pitch of your roof if I recall correctly.
Lack of venting at the top traps hot, cold or moist air. Adding rooftop/ ridge vents without improving necessary flow from soffit venting lower down is only half the battle. So there is a balance required.
If you have soffit venting there should be visible openings from the underside, walking around the house. To improve your venting from the soffits upward there is a 4' concave space liner which you attach to the underside of the roof surface running up from your soffits. You should find these at insulation or roofing material sections in your building store .
Most new homes have these installed between every other or every 3rd truss so you should consider them when insulating.
I have 30 year old Pella windows which need to go but my energy auditor advised that before considering windows sealing the ring or rim joist and sill plate around the basement area and insulating it to a minum of R28 would be the next best money spent as it reduces draft and heat loss. Sealing the sole plate on first and second level of your house, behind the baseboards is huge as far as eliminating drafts also. One furnace tech said up to 15% of my heat could be escaping through the basement rim joist area.
I live NE of Detroit so our cold winters are similar. One common sign of escaping hot air trapped in your attic due to improper ventilation is icicles forming and snow melting on your roof when it's not meling elsewhere.
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Old 12-31-2008, 10:50 AM   #27
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Chemist, the baffles were already in place on my roof system. I was basically topping off the insulation.

FYI, for anyone curious those baffles cost around 1.20/pr at HD. I got some the other day for the garage attic.

Thanks - Evan

BTW, I suspect my attic is improperly vented, but its way too cold out to do anything about it now! Yay, another spring project.
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Old 12-31-2008, 02:03 PM   #28
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Attic Insulation - Current R Value?


In your pictures it looks like the insulation is packed into the end of each bay and there are no baffles. That is exactly how my attic was when I went up there the first time. Are you going to pull the insulation back and put baffles in? I had to cut about 8" from the end of each bat to fit the baffle down far enough to let the air from the soffit flow up through it and so that the batt would fit back in place and lay flat.

I was wondering about something a salesman from an insulation service told me. He said that if there are already vents on your roof or if there are gable vents, they have to be covered before the ridge vent goes on. He said you can't have both and get good ventilation. He had a name for the problem with the airflow from having both kinds of vents, but I can't remember what he called it. I don't even know if he was right or if he was just trying to sell me a ridge vent for a few extra $$$. It might be worth looking into though to see if you have to do something with your gable vents to put on a ridge vent. For now we are keeping the 3 square vents that are on the roof. He said we need to put a ridge vent up there as soon as we can, but I doubt that we could find shingles to match what we have if the 3 vents were to be taken out, and right now the roof doesn't leak (knock on wood) but I'm worried that if we remove those vents, it will.

Quote:
One furnace tech said up to 15% of my heat could be escaping through the basement rim joist area.
Another source of heat loss is the seams on your ducts. My utility room was toasty warm, much warmer than any other room in the house. I always thought it was because the furnace is in there. I taped the seams with metal tape and now that room is the same temp as the rest of the basement. I'm going to insulate those ducts also, when I finish the work in the attic.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:02 PM   #29
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Good call on the insulation.
My father is doing the exact same thing with his rental. In our case there was R11(?) under about half the floorboards of the ceiling, go figure. We used an infrared thermometer to measure the walls, glass, and ceiling and found out where the big heat losses were going.

In the future, homes will be built new with a solar-coolant mass storage, insulated concrete forms, and european-style passive heat exchange/ground loop systems.
There's also a new superinsulator product which still hasn't hit the general market yet call "Areogel" made of 99.8% air. Do a search and check out the pics.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:38 PM   #30
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Sorry new at attaching quotes, any pointers would be appreciated

Re - gma2rjc's comment
"I had to cut about 8" from the end of each bat to fit the baffle down far enough to let the air from the soffit flow up through it and so that the batt would fit back in place and lay flat."

I'm not experienced at this beyond my own attic but I did talk to several builders I know and insulation contractors before starting.
In some cases the insulation protrudes PAST the top plate of the wall below and into the sofit although it provides no benefit within the soffit. My understanding is it is OK to trim the insulation within the soffit however the goal is to retain the coverage over the top plate and definately beyond the start of the inside wall below so use caution if trimming back any batts. Otherwsie you risk a cold air pocket around the perimeter of the room and ensuing problems. If the insulation there also happens to be backed with an attached paper you are also removing the vapour barrier from your ceiling below which becomes a nightmare.

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