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Old 12-14-2010, 02:39 PM   #1
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Question

To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


I had put this in the plumbing section... but I think it might be more appropriate here.

I'll try to keep this as short and sweet as I can. In our attic, which has been way too warm during winter months, I moved the insulation around to do some air sealing. During this process, I uncovered one particular 150 sq. ft. nightmare area where lots of air sealing needed to be done. Here's the deal...

It's a cathedral ceiling townhouse with a loft, two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs. The area of concern is above the upstairs bathroom. There's a soffit box above the shower that was only 'sealed' by the primer on the drywall. (There was a vastly under-performing bath exhaust fan in the bathroom, next to the soffit box, which has since been replaced by a great one that has helped out tremendously... but we have lots more to do.)

On each end of the soffit drop, lies the north and south wall of the bathroom. Above them, in the attic space, when I moved the black-dust-stained insulation out of the way I found that both of these walls are wide open into the attic - they have a top plate, but it is not equal to the height of the soffit drop. (see pic, here)...



This is the top of the south side bathroom wall, which is a shared wall with an adjoining bedroom closet. The north wall is not a shared wall, it is the wall of the stair case that leads up to the loft, etc. The north wall opening into the attic is roughly 40% larger than this one (i just didn't have the pic handy).

Both walls have plumbing in them. The south wall (the one you see, here) has the shower/tub connections. These pipes are polybutylene pipes, not copper, and so of course just have crimped connections if I recall correctly. In the north wall, there is a plumbing vent stack that connects to the toilet drain and heads all the way down to the basement.

I would like to either fill these walls with insulation, or cap them off with a combination of fiberglass insulation, rigid board insulation and 2x4s to prevent so much warm conditioned air from getting into my attic.

But... CAN I? Or Should I?

Are these walls supposed to be able to "breathe" in case of leaks? Are there some plumbing concerns I should be aware of, here?

Because I gotta say, just looking at these and feeling the amount warm air coming up and out of the wall cavities is really .

Any all help would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 12-14-2010, 05:22 PM   #2
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To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


Quote:
Originally Posted by bkraz View Post
I had put this in the plumbing section... but I think it might be more appropriate here.

I'll try to keep this as short and sweet as I can. In our attic, which has been way too warm during winter months, I moved the insulation around to do some air sealing. During this process, I uncovered one particular 150 sq. ft. nightmare area where lots of air sealing needed to be done. Here's the deal...

It's a cathedral ceiling townhouse with a loft, two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs. The area of concern is above the upstairs bathroom. There's a soffit box above the shower that was only 'sealed' by the primer on the drywall. (There was a vastly under-performing bath exhaust fan in the bathroom, next to the soffit box, which has since been replaced by a great one that has helped out tremendously... but we have lots more to do.)

On each end of the soffit drop, lies the north and south wall of the bathroom. Above them, in the attic space, when I moved the black-dust-stained insulation out of the way I found that both of these walls are wide open into the attic - they have a top plate, but it is not equal to the height of the soffit drop. (see pic, here)...



This is the top of the south side bathroom wall, which is a shared wall with an adjoining bedroom closet. The north wall is not a shared wall, it is the wall of the stair case that leads up to the loft, etc. The north wall opening into the attic is roughly 40% larger than this one (i just didn't have the pic handy).

Both walls have plumbing in them. The south wall (the one you see, here) has the shower/tub connections. These pipes are polybutylene pipes, not copper, and so of course just have crimped connections if I recall correctly. In the north wall, there is a plumbing vent stack that connects to the toilet drain and heads all the way down to the basement.

I would like to either fill these walls with insulation, or cap them off with a combination of fiberglass insulation, rigid board insulation and 2x4s to prevent so much warm conditioned air from getting into my attic.

But... CAN I? Or Should I?

Are these walls supposed to be able to "breathe" in case of leaks? Are there some plumbing concerns I should be aware of, here?

Because I gotta say, just looking at these and feeling the amount warm air coming up and out of the wall cavities is really .

Any all help would be greatly appreciated!
Fill the walls with insulation. They don't have to "breathe". The fan does that for them

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Old 12-14-2010, 05:41 PM   #3
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To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


Quote:
Originally Posted by bkraz View Post
I had put this in the plumbing section... but I think it might be more appropriate here.

I'll try to keep this as short and sweet as I can. In our attic, which has been way too warm during winter months, I moved the insulation around to do some air sealing. During this process, I uncovered one particular 150 sq. ft. nightmare area where lots of air sealing needed to be done. Here's the deal...

It's a cathedral ceiling townhouse with a loft, two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs. The area of concern is above the upstairs bathroom. There's a soffit box above the shower that was only 'sealed' by the primer on the drywall. (There was a vastly under-performing bath exhaust fan in the bathroom, next to the soffit box, which has since been replaced by a great one that has helped out tremendously... but we have lots more to do.)

On each end of the soffit drop, lies the north and south wall of the bathroom. Above them, in the attic space, when I moved the black-dust-stained insulation out of the way I found that both of these walls are wide open into the attic - they have a top plate, but it is not equal to the height of the soffit drop. (see pic, here)...



This is the top of the south side bathroom wall, which is a shared wall with an adjoining bedroom closet. The north wall is not a shared wall, it is the wall of the stair case that leads up to the loft, etc. The north wall opening into the attic is roughly 40% larger than this one (i just didn't have the pic handy).

Both walls have plumbing in them. The south wall (the one you see, here) has the shower/tub connections. These pipes are polybutylene pipes, not copper, and so of course just have crimped connections if I recall correctly. In the north wall, there is a plumbing vent stack that connects to the toilet drain and heads all the way down to the basement.

I would like to either fill these walls with insulation, or cap them off with a combination of fiberglass insulation, rigid board insulation and 2x4s to prevent so much warm conditioned air from getting into my attic.

But... CAN I? Or Should I?

Are these walls supposed to be able to "breathe" in case of leaks? Are there some plumbing concerns I should be aware of, here?

Because I gotta say, just looking at these and feeling the amount warm air coming up and out of the wall cavities is really .

Any all help would be greatly appreciated!
I would definitely close them off. Your paying for all that heat which is rising up. I originally thought you were complaining about your attic being too hot and I figured you must be in Arizona or something. Then I realized you were complaining about all that heat loss. I would add insulation and close the open area off with sheetrock.
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:14 PM   #4
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To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


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Originally Posted by mrgins View Post
Fill the walls with insulation. They don't have to "breathe". The fan does that for them
Well the fan just exhausts the hot moist air from the bathroom out of the house. If I seal off the wall from above, and some leak starts at the tub connections or something (Admittedly, the toilet vent stack in the north wall stands no chance of leaking unless something really entertaining is happening) there would be no chance that any moisture could escape and would instead mold or rot.

Maybe this is an instance I'm over-thinking. Is this a scenario where I should be saying, "hey, if a leak happens, a leak happens... you'll have some water damage and you'll just address it at that time. In the mean time, cap those walls off to make sure you're keeping your heat in your conditioned space and move on." ?
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Old 12-15-2010, 01:31 PM   #5
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To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


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Originally Posted by dadflynn View Post
I would definitely close them off. Your paying for all that heat which is rising up. I originally thought you were complaining about your attic being too hot and I figured you must be in Arizona or something. Then I realized you were complaining about all that heat loss. I would add insulation and close the open area off with sheetrock.
I like your idea of the sheetrock. And yeah, I guess I neglected to include that it was too warm in my attic - in the winter. Kind of an important detail.

So would you try to fill these walls with cellulose before closing it off with the sheetrock? maybe just blow it in and let it settle around the plumbing? Or don't even worry about filling the walls, just close them off?
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:09 PM   #6
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To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


Is this an interior wall? If exterior, I'd try to fill it, otherwise, block it off. I'd use wood as additional firestop and seal the gaps with firestop caulk or foam.
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:31 PM   #7
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To seal/cap a wall with plumbing in it, or not...


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Is this an interior wall? If exterior, I'd try to fill it, otherwise, block it off. I'd use wood as additional firestop and seal the gaps with firestop caulk or foam.
Yes, both walls of the bathroom are interior walls that butt up to the party wall on one side (party wall = wall that divides my townhouse from the neighbor's).

My original thought was to take rigid foam insulation, cut it down to the proper dimension, then tack that onto 2x4 lumber and slide the two-piece combo into the opening to create a nice tight seal. Then secure it, and caulk or construction adhesive seal around it.

The idea above of the sheetrock intrigues me, though, because some of this space is divided up where joists are present and cutting sheetrock to fit that would be a lot easier than cutting lumber.

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