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Old 12-16-2008, 03:52 PM   #16
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Need Attic ventilation advice


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Could you post a picture here of your mildewed bathroom fan ? I want the guys here to see what happens when these are not done right.
I'll post a picture as soon as I can. I'm having trouble getting pictures from the camera onto the computer.

It's not the bathroom fan itself that is mildewed, just a big section of the batt that was laying over the housing box for the fan. The boy genius who installed it (in the early 70's) never attached a hose or pipe to the ceiling fan/housing box to let the air/moisture from the bathroom escape past the insulation laying on top of it.

Thanks again.

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Old 12-17-2008, 10:05 AM   #17
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I owned one of these. Yours was built in 1970's, you'll never find the responsible party. Mine was built in 1993, a fourplex in a ski resort area where building codes were "strictly" enforced , 8 bathroom fans. None connected to vents. Half of them were simply covered over with the VB and buried under insulation; the other half dumped air into the floor joist space. A parade of "building inspectors" never noticed the problem the last one in 2006. Incompetence or fraud. You pick. By the way how has your health been?

Last edited by sawyerEd; 12-17-2008 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 12-17-2008, 11:48 AM   #18
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Incompetence or fraud? If they assigned the job of ventilating those fans to a 18-year-old kid who didn't know better - incompetence (on the part of the man who should have been teaching/overseeing what the kid was doing). But it's probably fraud - intentionally not done to save a couple dollars and some time. The guy probably couldn't care less if the family suffers any number of medical conditions caused by the mold that is likely to build up. Do you have any mold problems from the fans being vented improperly?

How's my health? It's fine. Thanks for asking.
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Old 12-17-2008, 03:17 PM   #19
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The only reason I didn't have a serious problem is that the condo was vacant most of the time and the air at 6500 ft is on average dry. Mildew had started to grow on the roof sheathing but I killed it by drying it out, stained lumber remained however. Also the metal hip roof had a continuous ridge vent and the soffits had 2in screened vent holes every 2 feet. There was always a cross wind up there when I was installing the ventilation pipes the first year I owned it. I used 3 in dryer vent but rigid pipe wrapped or sprayed with insulation would be better. I had to unplug the lower floor bathroom fans and foam all service holes to stop cigarette smoke from being pumped by neighbors fans through the building. I had a partner. If you are super insulating you should price out air to air heat exchange systems. Tricky to install so get help.
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:38 PM   #20
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That's good that the mold didn't get a chance to grow more than it did. The low humidity was probably your saving grace. Who knows how bad it would have been with 8 fans in a high humidity atmosphere.

I probably won't be able to get to the air to air heat exchange system (this is the first I've heard of it). As it is, my husband is less-than-thrilled that I'm sealing, ventilating and insulating the attic. I haven't asked him to help or anything like that, it's just that he's worried about spending money on it in this economy. I can't blame him for thinking that way, but if the gas bill goes down and the house isn't so cold, he'll be a happy camper when it's all done.

Do all four condo's share a ventilation system and common attic space instead of having walls that continue up to the roof, dividing the attic into four spaces? If you can smell smoke from someone else's condo, it seems like everyone would be sharing colds too. Maybe not.
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Old 12-20-2008, 12:32 PM   #21
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Thread was getting off topic but I'm not allowed to send you a private message. Stay with the project let us know how you do. Make sure you work safely and wear respiratory and eye protection. I like your choice of using blown-in but make you sure you get a knowledgable contractor who takes the time to explain the issues with super insulated ceilings. Blown-in has to be installed carefully so it has consistent loft and does not block ventilation channels in the soffits or interfer with bathroom vent pipes. The existing insulation must be very dry. Have you considered installing batts yourself across the existing ones in a continuous layer? They are much easier to deal with than loose fill but fitting them around obstructions requires some practice with sharp knives. Good luck.
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Old 12-21-2008, 07:31 PM   #22
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Dear gma2rjc, this is my 20th post. Go to the library and look at the building code. Make note of what is required in ceilings for moisture control in your area. Vapor retardant and vapor barriers must be installed on the WARM side of the insulation in a continuous layer and be sealed to the vapor retardant layer in the walls. Nevertheless these measures are never perfect. Warm air and moisture will get through somehow somewhere in the life of the building which will make it possible for the insulation to become moist or even wet. Your unvented bathroom fan is an example of this! If attic ventilation is adequate this moisture can escape to the exterior of the building or be actually evaporated in the summer when mold growth is most rapid. Superinsulating a ceiling with air leakage makes it more likely that the warm air will reach dewpoint before it reaches the exterior of the building thus wetting whatever material is at hand. Everything that can be economically done to prevent this kind of moisture damage is a good thing even if it is not 100%. Vapor retardant layers include house wrap, kraft paper on fiberglass batts, solid wood, and gypsum board (sheet rock) which has been filled, taped and sealed/painted with acrylic or moisture proof paint in the case of bathrooms. I didn't intend to mislead you. Vapor barrier should never be installed in the attic, it can be installed from the attic if you can remove the insulation and can get to the warm side. Ceiling insulation systems are far more efficient when they can breath moisture into the ventilated attic space. The point of this entire thread is that homeowners should make all reasonable efforts to prevent warm moist air from condensing in their insulation causing significant loss of insulating value and making the growth of toxic molds more likely. Did you say you have a "hot pipe" going through the ceiling? I vented my bathrooms horizontal to the exterior, better than punching through the roof!!!
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:27 PM   #23
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I didn't intend to mislead you. Vapor barrier should never be installed in the attic, it can be installed from the attic if you can remove the insulation and can get to the warm side.
You didn't mislead me. I understood about the vapor barrier needing to be under the insulation, that's what I planned on (mostly dreaded) doing. I just wasn't sure if I should do it if I couldn't cover the areas in the corners of the attic that are too tight to reach. I found out that it wouldn't make sense to go to the trouble and expense if I can't seal everything. The paint in the rooms below serves as a vapor barrier anyway.

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Did you say you have a "hot pipe" going through the ceiling? I vented my bathrooms horizontal to the exterior, better than punching through the roof!!!
Yes, the hot pipe vents the water heater exhaust up and out through the roof. It's putting a lot of heat into the attic, but I figured out how I'm going to fix it.
I think my bathroom fan can only be vented through the roof. It's impossible for anyone to get in close enough to run a vent out through the soffit. It can't be vented through the siding at either end of the house, because in a few years, when Ed McMahon brings me my check, I'm going to have siding put on the house, which means they will have to tear off all the metal siding that's there now. It does worry me to think of having someone cut into my roof to put the vent in. Maybe I need to hire a roofing guy for that and not have the insulation guy do it.

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