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Old 11-28-2011, 01:27 AM   #1
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Cold Master Bedroom


Hi all,

New homeowner from Edmonton, Canada. Posting this here even though it is a bit multidisciplinary. Don't really know where to go with it.

It gets cold up here, regularly below -25C/-13F in the winter months. We have a large master bedroom that is an addition to the house, and it has three registers (not sure whether one is a return, would hope so) but is consistently 5 degrees colder than the rest of the house (at least). It hasn't even gotten very cold yet but it still is concerning me already.

I looked up the history and it turns out the master was originally part of a larger deck, then was covered into a 'sun room' and built. There is a crawl space underneath that we can see from our downstairs bathroom window (used to view backyard before addition). The crawl space has some fiberglass insulation against the exterior wall, but at the top it's just wood plank which I think is just the floor of the bedroom (no attached insulation). Note that all of the ventilation runs through the crawl space (which is basically outside temperature), they are covered with a aluminum foil looking material.

The builder's notes say that the walls were insulated at R20.There is no mention of the ceiling. We can't really go into the attic because there is some vermiculite blown over with cellulose. However, the inspector looked up there, he couldn't walk around but he could see fiberglass on the far end where the addition was.

There are three large windows in the room. One is a slider that opens to the deck and . They all are double paned with wood frames that have significant rot on them due to drapes covering them for years and causing moisture.

This is a bit of a novel, but hopefully it explains the situation. Does anyone have any advice or idea what might be the main source of issues, or have any tips for what we could do to improve the heat retention in the room?

What do you think we could do to improve the temperature in this room, or is it doomed to be much colder because it has three exterior walls and several windows?

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Old 11-28-2011, 08:38 AM   #2
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I would bet that there is no return air in that room.....

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Old 11-28-2011, 09:16 AM   #3
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Wow. A master bedroom outside on a deck, in Edmonton eh?

Harley may be right; there may be HVAC issues that pertain to the supply of hot air from your furnace - as well as the return - which in turn suggests that you may need a HVAC review to be done of your entire system to determie what is lacking duct or performance-wise.

On top of that, you seem to have insulation issues; R20 is bare minmium I'd say for your winter climate and that might suggest that the builder did what was code - i.e the bare minimum - or he didn't know how to - or couldn't for budget reasons - insulate outdoors structures very well. Because you've basically got an outdoor structure, what with the crawl space and all. You may have vapour barrier issues too although you didn't mention it.

What budget have you got to put into making that space more comfortable? The answer to that will have the most bearing on where you go from here because you are basically starting from scratch, with then entire envelope of the bedroom now in question. Perhaps I'd start with an HVAC assessment from an independent contractor to tell you what the relation is between your comfort and your heating source, and what may or may not be adequate. Once that issue dealt with, then I'd either be prepared to shell out the bucks for spray-foam insulation in the crawl-space, or open your wallets for extreme heating bills while you decide.

As far as the attic goes, you'd want to find out what the insulation situation is up there with vapour barrier set-up too because that will determine what you can do as a DIY project.

That's a good starting out list of things to consider; they're major all right. After that, you'll be looking at the windows and wall insulation - but they're smaller when compared to the HVAC + insulation issues. Good luck.
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:09 PM   #4
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Perhaps worse than I thought, ugh.

We should be able to insulate the uninsulated floor, possibly with spray foam as well. It's only about 200 square feet, plus the government provides a $250 rebate if you insulate a floor in a crawl space and increase it's value by R24 or more. You think that is probably the biggest area of heat leakage? there are grants for walls and attic insulation as well, but I am not sure they would be cost effective.

Speaking of vapor barrier, the cover is still on the fiberglass insulation in the crawl space and the inspector said that should be removed.

We are receiving $6000 cash back, but most of this was to be set aside for new roofing and likely a new hot water heater. However, we were assessing the roof and we think only the garage needs replacing for now, we can wait a few years on the main residence. Also, my sister-in-law's dad owns a roofing company, should be able to get a deal. So there's some money available.

We don't have a set budget but we need to finish a suite in the basement as well, hopefully ASAP so that we can achieve some cash flow. Also the grants expire March 31, haha. Lots to do.
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:30 PM   #5
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The reason for the spray-foam is it acts both as insulation (i.e. gets everywhere) and as a vapour barrier, plus it wraps around your heating ducts and insulates them as well...because guaranteed you're losing most of the heat destined for the master to the air in the crawl-space. In fact you can get DIY spray-foam kits at hardware stores for about $1.50 per sq ft...sure, it's more expensive up-front, but nothing acts as well as spray-foam. Nothing.

Look, the way I see it is your feet land on a floor that is the temperature of the outside, more or less. That's a major heat source loss IMO that even a carpet wouldn't do much for.

I do not know exactly where the fibreglass is so can't say to rip off the paper is a good idea or not...that paper is a form of vapour barrier - but a really poor one, one that they may use in the US - but not up here. The vapour barrier in such products should be against the warm-in-winter side of the assembly, whatever that assembly is. Not pointing to the ground or in the air...hence it's not really recommended.

My question about the budget was rhetorical; I just wanted you to get to thinking about priorities and I see you've already done that...look, take care of the important things - like the roof and the water heater - as at worst, you'll just be sleeping with an electric heater on all night for 4 months of the year...
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Old 12-04-2011, 04:16 PM   #6
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Cold Master Bedroom


I bet it sucks getting out of bed in the morning in that cold! I was going to suggest adding really heavy drapes, but I see that they have caused a mold problem for you. I would still suggest something like that because it's probably the most effective thing you can do for living on a deck.
This might be helpful: http://blindsfirst.com/blindsopedia/...t-winter-cold/
Good luck!
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:36 AM   #7
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Cold Master Bedroom


That room is more conected to the outside than the conditioned space without sealing the whole room as others have mentioned you will always be conected to the out side if you have any nee walls in your attic they need sealed first, and while you are up there seal all the ban joices and so forth. In the room your outlets, windows, canlights if you have any of them they are really bad. Do you have LE windows if so is the LE on the outsinde or inside of the window? If not sure put a sheet of paper up to it if the reflection is yellow in the window then you have LE on outside which you want if the window is facing East or West.

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