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Old 09-10-2010, 04:08 PM   #31
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I lived in my house for over 11 years before I even stood on a ladder to look up in the attic.

I always thought it had enough insulation because I didn't have any bare spots on the roof after we got a heavy snow. Wrong.

There were batts of R-19 fiberglass insulation up there. I could write 2 pages about all the stuff I had to do up there to get it ready to insulate, but I'll spare you most of the details.

What you need to do is find out what the recommended R-factor is for your attic in whatever part of the country you live in. Here, in Michigan, it's R-48 (I'm pretty sure).

Well, first of all, do you have batts of insulation or cellulose?

If you have batts, you can take some cans of Great Stuff foam up there, lift the batts (wear a mask, long pants, long sleeves) and seal any gaps you find. Such as, around wires where they come up into the attic.

You also need to seal around where there are light fixtures in the ceiling of the rooms below. But you can't just cover those with the foam. Depending on what kind of fixture it is, there is a proper way to cover it. For example, there are a couple different kinds of recessed lighting fixtures. Some get too hot to just cover them up. Some don't. Do a search about it on this forum. There are quite a few threads that talk about it and in some of those threads, a few of the guys posted some very helpful links that will help you understand what you're doing before you go up there.

Another thing about your attic is that you need to have good ventilation. Make sure the soffits aren't blocked and that you have enough venting for the hot air to escape. This is something you'll want to do a search for on this forum for too. You can also start a new thread with it in the proper forum so the right guys will see it and they'll answer your questions. I personally only know about all of this from doing tons of research and asking a lot of questions when I was working in my attic.

When I was up there, I lifted every batt to see what was under it. I'm really glad I did too. Under one of them was the bathroom ceiling fan vent. It was supposed to have been vented to the outside, through the roof. Instead, there was nothing hooked up to it at all. There was just the metal box and blackened insulation around it. I disposed of the black insulation, vented it properly and sealed the box really well so heat wouldn't escape out of the bathroom and around the outside of the metal box. I also sprayed foam around the pvc pipes.

There are probably more things than what I mentioned. Oh, before you climb all the way up there, look around for hornet nests, bats, and rodent droppings. If you find any of those, you'll have to deal with them before you get started, obviously.

If you get up there and find that you have blown-in cellulose, I don't know how you would go about sealing everything. You would just have to move the insulation around I guess. I'm not sure of the proper procedure for that. But I read about a guy who went in his attic with a garden rake and moved the blown-in insulation around so he could seal everything. Where there's a will, there's a way.

You can do this though. I'm a woman and when I went up there I was 45 yrs. old and had ZERO experience. But researching and asking questions is the key.

Once I got the attic properly sealed and before I had the insulation blown-in, I noticed a big difference in the main part of the house, in that, there were no more drafts going along my floors.

About your other questions:

You mentioned that your house was 97 when you moved in. My house was very warm on the upper floor when we had the central air on. The basement was too cold. I found out that during the summer, heat radiates down from the attic, through the unsealed gaps and uninsulated attic hatch lid. And if there's not enough insulation up there, it radiates down through the drywall on the ceiling.

To seal the heat ducts, which are the metal tubes that lead from your furnace to the heat registers in each room. Are yours in your attic since you don't have a basement?

If you have access to them, find the seam where two pieces of duct are fitted together. Dust them off, at least where the tape will be. Then wipe with a damp cloth to get it clean. When it's dry, use metal tape, NOT duct tape, and wrap it around the duct, over the seams. You can get that tape in the heating and cooling dept. at your local hardware, Home Depot, etc. I think I paid about $15 a roll.

When you're done with that, wrap insulation around the vents. They sell a special insulation for this. It's not as thick as the regular insulation.

The draft blocker I got at Lowe's in the heating and cooling dept. You put it inline in a vertical section of your dryer vent. Just make sure that it's facing the right way. it should open up when the dryer is on and close when it's not. It should keep a lot of the cold air from coming in through the dryer.

Before I put that in, cold air flowed out of my dryer when I opened it and the floor around the dryer was always so cold in the winter. Not anymore!

If your windows are in good shape and you don't feel a draft coming in around them, I'm not sure why you'd need the weather stripping.

If you ever have the trim around your windows and exterior doors off, grab a can of Great Stuff (for windows and doors) and spray it in the gaps around the windows. It works a lot better than the pink insulation that might be in there now. That's something I still have to do with my windows and one door.

As far as the CFL bulbs go, I won't use them because they have mercury in them and I'm afraid of the kids breaking one of them. Also, there are a bunch of them that were made in China that catch fire. Google 'CFL bulbs catching on fire'. They're not all like that, but I'm not taking any chances.

I like the power strip you're buying. Especially the remote for it.

With all the stuff I told you about what to do in the attic, remember that every attic is different and if you reach a point where you're not sure of what to do, stop. Ask questions here on the forum or research it until you're confident as to what to do next. I had to do that quite a few times.

And when you ask questions, post a couple pictures so people know what you're talking about. You'll get a lot more help that way.

I hope that when you get up there, you'll find that everything has already been sealed and there's plenty of insulation. *fingers crossed*.

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Old 09-10-2010, 07:55 PM   #32
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Thanks for that awesome post! I think I'll climb into the attic with the wife and take pictures and post them up, that way I can get the most help on what to do. Only issue, the wife said there's nothing we could stand on to walk except the beams.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:39 PM   #33
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Wellllll.... walking on the joists up there isn't really a big deal. I mean, it can be. If you... you know..... don't watch where you're walking. You'll do fine though. Just be extra careful. After a while you'll be able to walk around really well up there.

Someone told me to lay OSB or plywood across the trusses and walk on those. But because of the way my trusses were built, I wasn't able to do that.

The hardest part is walking up there if the peak isn't very high. Mine is about 5'2" or so under the peak. I couldn't stand up straight, even in the center.

I did really well walking on the trusses until my very last trip up there. I was all done and calling it quits for the night. Instead of making two or three trips to carry everything back to the attic hatch, I carried as much as I could all at once in one arm. The other arm was almost empty as I needed it to hold on the the vertical boards as I walked across the trusses.

I got a couple bays from the hatch and lost my balance. My foot stepped on the drywall below and I heard a crack just before I lifted it back up and allowed myself to fall forward onto my shoulder against a board on the next truss over. I never put my full weight on the drywall, so my foot didn't go through it. Whew!

I went downstairs and tried to find the part of the ceiling where my foot caused that cracking sound. It was in the hallway and it looks like a fine pencil mark about 3 feet long.

That was in about January of 2009.

About a month ago, my husband yelled for me to come look at the ceiling in the hallway. "What is that?" he said.

Last edited by gma2rjc; 09-10-2010 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 09-10-2010, 09:48 PM   #34
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Ha, nice. My wife and I were also looking at getting a few tubular skylights. They said its just as bright as 3 light bulbs, so the wife and I were thinking about putting 4 in the living room, kitchen, and my man cave. That way we don't need to use lights.

But like I said, I should have pictures tomorrow of what our attic looks like.
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Old 09-14-2010, 03:54 AM   #35
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Well here are the pictures, had the wife take the photos while I was at work. To my surprise, guess there is no insulation? Also, are the nails suppose to be showing like that, lol.

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Old 09-14-2010, 08:28 AM   #36
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You have insulation, that powder stuff between the rafters is cellulose insulation. Also, those nails through the roofing sheathing is normal.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:51 AM   #37
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Should I remove it and put in the block kind? Also shouldn't it be on the walls of the roofs and ceilings?
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:37 PM   #38
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What kind of insulation is better? Blown-in or just the one you cut to the shape and lay down? Also, where can I buy insulation at? Home Depot was advertising $0.99/sq ft. for blown-in.

http://www.simplyinsulate.com/savings/

North Carolina for Existing Wood-Framed Houses (I fall under 3), I would need between R30 and R60?

Last edited by Dinggus; 09-15-2010 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 09-15-2010, 11:37 PM   #39
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When I was researching it, I found out that cellulose is better than fiberglass. Fiberglass loses some R-value when the temperatures drop real low. That's what I read anyway.

I didn't do what I'm about to suggest, but I wish I had.

If you can afford it, you can have a company come to your house and professionally spray foam in your attic. The foam acts as a vapor barrier and it leaves no gaps or spaces where air can escape from your living space.

One video I saw said to do the spray foam and then have cellulose put in on top of that. Adding the insulation didn't make any sense to me, but there could be a reason for it.

There is another kind of insulation too. It's called Roxul. They just started selling it in the U.S. not too long ago. It's awesome.

www.roxul.com

There should be a spot on their website that tells you if a store in your area sells it.

If you go with the cellulose, you can rent a machine at Home Depot or Lowe's. One of the two lets you use it for free if you spend a certain amount on insulation. At least that was the case 2 years ago.

Barb
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Old 09-16-2010, 04:18 AM   #40
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Cellulose the one you blow in?
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Old 09-16-2010, 08:59 AM   #41
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Yes, cellulose is the blow-in.

I planned on doing that myself, but after having about 5 insulation companies come to my house to give me estimates, I found out that I'd only save a couple hundred dollars doing it myself.

That's a lot of money, but I was told that the cellulose they can buy is better than what I could get at Home Depot. It also has more boric acid in it - which keeps bugs and animals out of your attic. And it's safe for humans. Boric acid is what they put in a baby's eyes when they're first born. But if you're going to blow the insulation in yourself, you'll want to wear some kind of mask over you mouth and nose while you're up in the attic.

Here are some insulation websites I found on this forum and saved:

I haven't checked them in a while, so a few of them might not work.



http://bct.nrc.umass.edu/index.php/p...-smart-choice/


http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/insulation.html


http://www.cellulose.org/userdocs/Te...ectiveness.pdf


http://oikos.com/esb/38/floorinsulation.html


http://www.simplesavings.coop/simple...ee%20walls.pdf


http://www.insulating-products.com/p...lation_FAQ.pdf


http://oikos.com/library/insulating_...lls/index.html


http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Pr...ttic-air-leaks


http://www.enersavesystems.com/pdf/E...Insulation.pdf






Barb
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Old 09-16-2010, 09:40 AM   #42
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Good morning Dinggus:

It seems to me like you have found the biggest part of your electrical consumption problem.

Yes, it's true you have some insulation in your attic, but it doesn't look like any too much to me. Some of the spots look practically empty. The evidence is in both your outrageous electric bill and the heat which very likely comes from your attic. Not good.

You have already had an incredible reply to many of your questions from Barb, and she is speaking from personal experience, which is always the best kind.

When you have an existing building - as you do - I would say your best bet is to use blown in cellulose insulation. However, before you do that, I think I must agree with what Barb says about locating and sealing up any gaps which you may have in the attic ceiling. It is quite incredible how much air will move through the smallest of gaps. And the sad fact is that all that air - which moves through 24/7, is taking the heat out with it. No point in trying to heat North Carolina, is there?

In Barb's case, she had no vapour barrier in place, and it is quite possible that you don't either. Please excuse my Canadian spellings from time to time!

If you do have such a barrier, then all you need to do is to locate any holes and plug them up. Either with tape or some sort of foam perhaps. It would depend on where and what the leak is. If you have a poly vapour barrier, tape will work in most places, except where you have a pipe penetration of some sort, then foam will work. Make sure that if you want to use foam that the pipe in question doesn't get hot, as in the case of a B vent from a gas furnace.

I believe there is a special sealant for that - check with Barb. That's not a question I have any personal experience with.

I would suggest as a first step that you go up in to the attic with a roll of tape and a couple of cans of spray foam.

Systematically go over the entire attic area - it won't be a pleasant job - and fix every leak you can find.

You will need to push the insulation out of the way as you go in order not to miss anything. Take your camera with you.

For a 22 year old you're certainly tackling a pretty major project. I wish you well!

Welcome to the world of DIY.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:17 AM   #43
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Most of GMA2RJC's post could have been written by me. I have been going through the same thing here in Chicago. If I could add? Fayetteville, NC has a fairly mild winter climate but extreme heat in the summer if I remember correctly, I've been there a few times, love the pine tree forests. I noticed in the first thermostat pic on Sept 9th you had it set for 70 degrees. Is it that cool already? I hate to sound like mom but here goes. We keep ours at 65 during the winter. We wear warm clothes, slippers, and use blankets when were watching TV. I like to think we have saved a lot of money doing that! In the summer does it really have to feel like a meat locker in the house? Turn the heater and AC down when you leave or go to bed. Our house was terrible but I had neither the time, money, or know how to fix it. I finally realized an hour here and there adds up, it wasn't as expensive as we expected...except the furnace (ours had a cracked manifold) and you can learn anything using the internet or library.

On the internet I found so much conflicting information about attic insulation it made my head spin. The problem is that every region does things a bit differently. What I finally did was to go to several home improvement store in the area, found someone that seemed to know what they are talking about , and asked questions about local insulation. I took notes, compared them and formed my own plan.

If you decide to add more insulation don't remove the old stuff. It does not go bad unless it gets wet. Yours looks fine to me. Do what the others suggested, checked light fixtures for gaps and make sure bathroom fans are hooked up right. Our attic door is a piece of drywall. It had nothing on it. Insulating that made a big difference.

BTW, did you save the biege paint? You can fix that wall around the thermostat pretty quick with some wall putty and some sandpaper.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:22 AM   #44
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Thank you Barb! How much did it cost? A friend and I are going to go into the attic and look for seals and what not. What kind of type and foam do you suggest? I'm going to try to do as much as I can, being in the Army keeps my life pretty busy.

The first thermostat was just a picture I found online, but it is the same one. Winter isn't that bad here, it's rare if it snows but it does get cold. Summer is extremely hot. The wife and I rarely used the heater, we bought a heated blanket for the winter. As for bathroom fans, we don't have any. As for the paint, no the previous owners didn't leave any. We're still deciding what to paint our hallways.

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Old 09-16-2010, 12:51 PM   #45
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Note to Hurriken, without quoting the whole post...In case you had the idea I was suggesting that he actually remove the existing insulation, that wasn't my intention.

There is hardly any insulation there if you look at the pictures. But he will need to temporarily move it out of the way to check for any potential leaks.

By all means keep everything that is there, no point in wasting any of it.

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