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Old 03-25-2019, 02:49 PM   #1
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Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Last year I had branches come through the roof, attic, ceiling, landed in my living room. As a result, all the insulation in the attic was removed; new R38 was installed. Also a ridge vent went in. Prior, I had the vents at either end of the A frame (ranch house). Attic is not used, unfinished, ladder access only.



I had Mass Save come in to do an energy audit. They said:
1. up in the attic, they need to lift each insulation batt, spray in some stuff to create an air seal around each joist, drywall to the beam, then replace the batt
2. add 3 inches of insulation. They claim (showed pics) that the insulation was tapped down so it is not the full 12 inches, and thus not providing the proper level of insulation for R38 insulation. In certain places, mainly leading off of the ladder access point, you can see the joists, which are only 6 inches, not 8 and certainly not 12. So those wood joists should not be visible. Mass Save wants to see 12 inches of insulation minimum. And they won't do the insulation install unless I also approve the air seal.


What do you think? I am inclined not to do anything, but wanted to hear from you folks.



Tapping down the insulation so you can see where to place your foot makes sense to me. This is in the center of the A frame, not out at the edges.



Thank you for thoughts on this.
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:05 PM   #2
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Do you have soffit vents and air chutes over the exterior wall.

Air sealing and a sealed access door are very important. Money well spent for a complete job.

Building a raised walkway above the insulation is the best way to go.
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:11 PM   #3
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Soffit vents yes. Air chutes, no idea. Don't know what those are.


Sealed access door, my mistake didn't say it but yes they would do that as well. Access door is also middle of the house.
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:57 PM   #4
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


To back up for a moment, why did you bring in Mass Save? Were you concerned about energy costs or having a moisture problem?

Air sealing is important, if you need it. An A-frame is all roof covered with shingles so no air leaks out that direction. Just a guess, but I suspect your total air leakage is within the recommended amount. Did they do a blower door test, which measures the leakage and if so can you post their numbers?

I agree with Neal, devise a raised walkway to allow space for more insulation and avoid walking on it in the future.

If you measure the depth of your rafters, those long sloping boards, are they 6", 8", or deeper? Whatever they are they are providing the space for the insulation and hopefully an air gap above. Let us know.

All for now, but I suspect you don't need that company doing any more work, I'll explain.

Bud
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:18 PM   #5
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


I brought in Mass Save as I was angry at myself for agreeing to the ridge vent installation last year. I wanted to see if that was costing me money. Well, I did not find out.


Not having any moisture issues.


Mass Save does not do the blower test until you approve work. THEN they do it before and after to show you how much you improved.


I think somewhere along the way I have confused things, so will clarify with a pic, this is a ranch house.
First pic is front of house. Normal wind flow is coming from the right end of the house, so naturally flows in the vent at the end, and through the middle and out the vent at the left. Except with the work last year they boarded up those vents and put in a ridge vent. All this winter I saw the snow on the roof melted all along the ridge vent, which meant I was losing heat. Never had that issue when I was relying on the vents. So that is why I brought in Mass Save; but they didn't do any testing which would tell me if the ridge was the wrong thing to do. ( still think it was wrong.)


Also if you look up you can see the places on the white pine where the 2 15 inch diameter boughs came off; they brought 3 smaller branches down with them, through the roof at the back and landed in my living room


Second pic, I am standing in the hallway with the cellar door open. Looking down is the stairwell. Look up and you see the attic access. Any major work like a raised walkway should have been part of last year's repairs when the entire living room ceiling was open to the attic and getting materials up would have been easy.
AND this pic got turned when it uploaded, so it is sideways. The bottom is on the left, that is the view down to the cellar. The top and the attic access is on the right.


Finally, I again must have used the wrong term as I don't know what slope boards you are speaking of. What I was trying to say is, when you are up in the attic, look down, there are boards which make the 'floor' if you will, you walk on those, and in between is a well with batt insulation. Below that is the drywall which is the ceiling for the room below. Those wells are 6 inches deep. The R38 insulation would be (so I was told by Mass Save) 12 inches deep so you should not be seeing any of the wood. But you are, because the insulation was tapped down, especially where you climb up the ladder, so you can see where to place your foot.



Hope this helps.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:26 PM   #6
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Ridge vent has everything to do with attic ventilation for the purpose of removing moisture and nothing to do with efficiency (or lack of).

What they proposed was air sealing of the attic floor...which is a good thing. I don't know anything about them or their practices, but generally speaking, air sealing is a good thing.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:29 PM   #7
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Quote:
Originally Posted by Windows on Wash View Post
Ridge vent has everything to do with attic ventilation for the purpose of removing moisture and nothing to do with efficiency (or lack of).

That's what I was afraid of. Which means I never should have approved it.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:43 PM   #8
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


If you home has a soffit...it should also have a ridge vent. That is normal practice these days.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:48 PM   #9
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


It may be normal; but this house did not require it due to the prevailing wind patterns. And now it is costing me more to heat as my heat is all going out the darn ridge vent.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:57 PM   #10
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Ok, standard ranch with what is referred to as a gable style roof. The A-frame was going to be bad news, family member used to own one.

Anyway, as WW said, the ridge vent should not be affecting your energy costa and adding one was a good idea.

My concern about Mass Saves is per what you said it was a marketing approach, like no blower door test until you sign up for the rest of the work. ANY energy audit should include a blower door test along with related infrared pictures. Taking those pictures while the house is depressurized is like opening your eyes, wow.

Did they give you any heat loss information? If not I can do some of that for you, I'm a retired energy auditor and the basics are easy.

What do you heat with and what are your heating costs for a year?

Also, baffles are chutes out next to the eaves so ait being vented in can move above the insulation for a extra foot or so. With batts as opposed to blown-in insulation they may have skipped them as batts don't fall into the soffits.

Bud
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:57 PM   #11
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


I'm sorry but it doesn't sound like you understand attic insulation and ventilation. I would suggest looking back at Bud's posts and following some of the links he posted to learn more. While I agree it sounds like you need more insulation, it's not the fault of the ridge vent.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:58 PM   #12
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Your thermal and air barrier is at the attic floor. The attic should be as close to ambient as possible and when there is no wind and it is cold, an poorly ventilated attic can create a bunch of issues.

If it has increased your energy consumption, the home was not working as it should have been in the first place. If you didn't have any moisture issues on the sheathing, you were lucky in this case. There is a reason that ventilation is code now.

Look into air sealing and insulating as it will save you money over the life of the home. Winter and summer.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:59 PM   #13
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Quote:
Originally Posted by Freedomsand View Post
That's what I was afraid of. Which means I never should have approved it.

I little explanation might make you feel a little better.

The heat in the attic that escapes thru the upper vents comes from two places



1. The top of the front and back walls where you just cannot get enough insulation to stop the heat from bleeding from the top of the wall.


2. Air leaks around light fixtures, chimneys furnace B vent, plumbing vents,
pot light, and holes for wires thru the top of the walls, as well as the attic access door.





All these leaks from living space to the attic can be found in older homes and closing them is a must when you add more insulation because as the air move thru or around insulation is drops off the moisture from the house. House warm air can contain more moisture than can be held as the air cools raising thru the insulation.



Soffit vents and air chutes supply air flow to pick up the heat off the front and back wall and move it up into the attic and out.



When you see the snow melt at the ridge, smile, that is what you want to see. Any heat that is making it to the attic is being removed.

That prevents ice dams in cold climates and keeps the roof cooler in hot climates.



The attic access door is often a big problem with heat and or air lose.

The sides of the hole should have been raised to an inch or two above the new insulation height, the door needs to be insulated to match the attic and the door needs to be sealed with weatherstripping.



The walk way is often just a couple 2x4s or 2x6s. They could have been turned on edge with a a couple blocks between then to keep them standing up like joists, then short board could be added for a walking surface after the new insulation was added..
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:59 PM   #14
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Several posts inbetween, but asttic heat is supposed to go out. Insulation and air sealing are supposed to prevent heat from getting into the attic. Ice dams on the outside and condensation on the inside are what should go away.

Bud
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:02 PM   #15
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Re: Attic insulation, Mass Save recommendations


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post

My concern about Mass Saves is per what you said it was a marketing approach, like no blower door test until you sign up for the rest of the work. ANY energy audit should include a blower door test along with related infrared pictures. Taking those pictures while the house is depressurized is like opening your eyes, wow.

Did they give you any heat loss information? If not I can do some of that for you, I'm a retired energy auditor and the basics are easy.

What do you heat with and what are your heating costs for a year?


Bud


Pictures were not mentioned at ALL.


Heating: boiler, oil fired, heat is baseboard, forced hot water. No separate water heater, so hot water comes from this system as well.



Oil cost for calendar 2018: $1797.
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