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Old 03-14-2010, 10:05 AM   #1
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semi finished attic---where to start?


first of all, i've been somewhat schizophrenic on these boards posting lots of pics and questions about various projects, some big and some small. thanks so much for all of the tips/pointers. obviously, I only have the resources to tackle a few of them in the next few months, but I use the month of March to think big and by April I will have narrowed my focus to a few doable projects. I am a teacher so i have a good bit of time home in the summer to work with.


A fairly large project that I'd like to get some feedback on is my partially finished attic. Here are some pics below. Please excuse the clutter. I've been spending the past few weeks sorting all of the stuff we lugged from our first house. A lot of this will end up being trashed, but at least I know what we've got. I'll blame the wife who is a bit of a hoarder. I hoard books, but that's about it.






inside crawl space (right side)


crawl space (left side)


There is an electric baseboard up here. I've never used it. The rest of the house has radiators, and my neighbor has a radiator in her attic. I think it must have been removed.

I know insulation is really important. And I am not sure what exactly I am dealing with in this space. Any tips/advice are appreciated greatly!

Last edited by joetab24; 03-14-2010 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:46 AM   #2
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semi finished attic---where to start?


I guess I may be confused. It looks to me if the attic room may be finished already if all the clutter was removed? (Don't be offended, I have 2 sheds that you would have to climb over stuff to get to the back side )

Are you trying to see if you need to install more insulation on the kneewalls of the room or what? It was good to include pictures but I am unsure of where you want to go.
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Old 03-14-2010, 10:51 AM   #3
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semi finished attic---where to start?


1st you have to decide what you are going to do with the space

Myself I would build insulation boxes over the recessed cans in the attic space
I would then install rafter vents & insulate the attic space
How much depends upon intended use
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:14 PM   #4
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semi finished attic---where to start?


I'd like to use this space as office space/tv room for me.


there is plywood on the walls, so that needs to come down and I will put up drywall.

i have no idea if there is any insulation behind the ceiling or under the floor in the main area. the floor is decent, so it can stay. is this space typically insulated?

difficult to see in the pics, but the ceiling itself is plaster (i guess). probably should be removed and a new one put up.

the stairs are generally good- somewhat steeper than I'd like- but sturdy, except for one or two.

regarding insulation,

i haven't checked under the plywood in the crawspace....on the one side there is some visible. i need to see what is there.

scupa, you mentioned "recessed cans." not sure what you mean (sorry ).
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:18 PM   #5
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semi finished attic---where to start?


In the last pic there are silver domes visible
Those are recessed cans & are a heat loss from heated are below to the attic

You have 2 areas
One is finished, one is not
Are you planning on using both areas as living space ?
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:46 PM   #6
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semi finished attic---where to start?


I am thinking I will leave the areas behind the knee walls unfinished but better insulated. Maybe I can use this space for storage.

If I open up one or both of these areas, wouldn't a dormer have to be built to make the space usable? Some of my neighbors have done this and installed bathrooms. I think that goes way beyond my budget at this point, but down the road maybe.


At this point, I'd like to make the space more finished, much better insulated, add carpet/paint. I know I will need an air conditioner since it gets really hot up here.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:53 PM   #7
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semi finished attic---where to start?


Found some links on attic insulation...in case anyone else is interested in this kind of project.


http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/vide...051865,00.html

article

http://www.easy2diy.com/cm/easy/diy_...ge_id=35720160

insulating rafters
video

Some questions I have

pretty sure there is already insulation in my attic, but it's probably pretty old. don't know what the R value is.
should I leave it and add to it?

can i put plywood on top of the insulation so i can use the space for storage? I just read an article that discussed not
wanting to compress the insulation, and it suggested using some 2Xs to raise the the plywood slightly over the insulation.

Last edited by joetab24; 03-14-2010 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:25 PM   #8
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semi finished attic---where to start?


I leave existing insulation & go over it with new
IF old has a vapor barrier new should not
IF old does not I try to move that & put new w/vapor barrier against sheetrock

Compressing insulation reduces Rvalue
I just put R30 into a 1/2 wall & Rvalue reduced to R22 per charts

Putting plywood down will slow down heat escaping from below
But put down 2x's to keep from compressing insulation
Looks like 2x6 roof rafters
If they were bigger I'd install rafter vents, insulation & sheetrock to keep the storage area warmer
You could still do it...R19 for 2x6

My knee wall space is insulated & sheetrocked - walls, floor & rafters & it stays pretty warm
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Old 03-15-2010, 05:23 PM   #9
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semi finished attic---where to start?


On the front side of the house, the attic's insulation is probably original. House was built in 1939. Here's what I have






behind knee wall



Maybe a dumb question, but do I have to worry about asbestos?

Do I leave all of this?

Also, not sure how many electrical wires I am going to find running through the insulation, how do I handle this?

Thanks again!
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Old 03-16-2010, 06:15 AM   #10
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semi finished attic---where to start?


A house built in '39 likely had little or no insulation. There are nasty things in old insulation(batt or blanket), but not aware of asbestos being one of them. ALWAYS wear breathing protection when disturbing insulation, old or new. Wiring running thru insulation is not bad, unless it is knob&tube wiring, doubtful you have that.
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Old 03-16-2010, 07:30 AM   #11
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semi finished attic---where to start?


Only way to know for sure is to have it tested:

Quote:
A: First, don't assume your insulation is asbestos. According to a bulletin put out by the Environmental Protection Agency (links.sfgate.com/ZOC), houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos as insulation. But the heyday of asbestos use in construction was from around 1950 to the mid-1970s.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:18 AM   #12
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semi finished attic---where to start?


pretty sure i do have knob and tube wiring
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:36 AM   #13
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semi finished attic---where to start?


Myself I'd get rid of the knob & tube 1st
Most states do not allow K&T to be buried in insulation
CA & Washington have reversed that ruling/reg & allow it after it has been inspected by an electrician
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:44 AM   #14
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semi finished attic---where to start?


Joe, I have a similar house to yours. I can say there's no way to know if your isulation is asbestos other than having it tested. Asbestos only becomes a problem when its disturbed. What are you wanting to do in the attic?

I would also bet that you do have knob & tube wiring running through there but hopefully like my house its just old dead wires they left when they upgraded the electrical. If it is in fact live k&t wiring thats being used I would suggest having that upgraded but that's for another thread. If they're dead wires I wouldnt worry too much about them, pull them out if you like. If theres other wiring running through I would just be careful not to yank, step on, cut it or cause it to become exposed. It should be fine to work around if it's in good condition.
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:32 PM   #15
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semi finished attic---where to start?


Wow, does that look familiar. My son owned a house for a few years which was built in 1921, according to the private seller. I did some research and found out the house was completed, according to court house records, in '21, but took four years to build. The attic looked so much like the photos. In the second photo--running from right bottom to left top- is that an electrical wire, maybe with tape wrapped around it? From experience: there's no telling what you will find in the attic of these older homes. David
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