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Old 02-19-2010, 09:11 AM   #1
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Looking for some advice about insulation

First of allÖ what a great forum. I hope to get some advice and ideas here.

I live in a townhome constructed in the early 90's and according to the local building authority this was before Tyvec house wrap was required in the building code. The first floor of my house is brick and the second story is aluminum siding slapped up right over plywood exterior. The master bedroom is over the garage and it is either very cold or very hot depending on the season. This winter has been especially brutal and there have been days where it is so cold that I canít even sleep upstairs.

Anyway, Iíve been doing some research about insulation and it seems my options are very limited. I canít really do anything to the outside of the house (THA rules) and tearing out all the drywall in the bedrooms and insulating seems pretty extreme and expensive.

Has anyone here used this Tripolymer Inc. spray foam insulation? It seems like the perfect answer to my problem, but then Iím no expert either.

Any feedback would be appreciated.



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Old 02-19-2010, 09:54 AM   #2
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all brands of spray foam are basically the same. Some are fire retardant, some low and some high expanding. Closed cell low expanding is what you want for your project. This will work. But it is very difficult to get spray foam into all the voids in an existing wall without removing all the drywall. Best solution as a retro-fit is dense packed cellulose. This will also resolve the lack or air barrier on the exterior, since this is dense enough to provide the air break needed.


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Old 02-19-2010, 03:43 PM   #3
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I'm sure the building code in your area required R12 insulation to be installed in the walls, when your home was built!
Its possible that insulation was over-looked, but not very likely!
The first place that I would look at, is in the attic. You should have at least 12" of insulation up there.
Adding insulation to an attic is the least expensive option.
You will need insulation in the floor also, as the cold garage is below.
If it were my place I would saw open a small area in the garage ceiling drywall and check to see how much insulation has been installed in the bedroom floor! It should have at least 6".
If it less than that, it would be possible to fasten insulation to the underside of the garage drywall.
There are business's that specialize in determining where heat is lost and it may be a good idea to hire someone to do a check for you!
You never said, but is your home heated with electric heaters, water heaters or from a forced air furnace?
If its a forced air furnace, besides having a heat supply register, there has to be a way for cold air to return to the furnace. If there isn't a cold air return in the room, make sure that there is a gap of about 1" of space under the door, to allow the cold air to escape.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:41 AM   #4
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I hadn't even heard of "Tripolymer" before I read this post, but to me spray foam insulation is spray-foam insulation - no matter what you call it or no matter the specific properties of each one; and, as Bob said, there are two type of densities in polyurethane foams - I don't know about 'Tripolymer' but being a phenolic, but the choices may be the same.

But I think you raise the question of "spray-foam" insulation versus any other type and the answer isn't quite so easy to come by...you have a classic example of a less-than-perfect insulation/airmovement/vapour barrier system that is giving you the results you have in the master bedroom. A lot of this type of problem happens there - in the room above the garage - because builders tend to exclude the garage from the building envelope, so there's less attention paid to insulation there compared to say the kitchen.

Unfortunately, the answer to your problem involves a bit if detective work to see why the bedroom is colder than the rest of the house, and whether or not the siding is involved. Before 'Tyvek' and similar plastic sheets they used tar paper, so I can only imagine that some form of barrier is under the siding, even if it's plywood (but I doubt it's just that). I have tar paper under my brick and that was put there 50 years ago to prevent water from getting behind the brick, so that's normal.

Now instead of tearing everything down, a good solution is to bring in someone with an infrared camera who can most likely pinpoint the source of the heat loss without so much as punching a hole. It may be a bad placement of a heating duct, it may be a lack of insulation but that guy will be able to localise the problem.

Of course, what you do then will depend. It's not just "spray-foaming" and it may not be "tearing everything out"...you have to find out more. Fortunately, we understand about 'air infiltration' and 'sealing' being just as important as 'how many inches of fibreglass insulation' you have, and the type and placement of the vapour barrier being equally important to those of us who have to heat in the winter and/or cool in the summer.

One affects the other and it's a multi-faceted question that no one answer can solve.
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