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Old 10-09-2016, 09:43 PM   #1
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1st time home owner garage insulation question


Hey everyone, first post here but likely not the last. I just bought my first (and hopefully last) home. The previous owners did an awesome job of setting me up for success and there's really nothing that needs done in the house with the exception of maybe adding another water heater if the 38 gallon one that is already in the crawl space doesn't keep up with the 4 of us. We'll see how that goes once we move in. About the house, it's a 3 br 1 ba, 1600 sf house on an acre with 140' of waterfront on the beautiful St. Marys river in Michigans Upper Peninsula. The garage walls are all insulated with R19 fiberglass and 2 of the walls are covered with OSB, while the other 2 are unfinished. The loft is completely uninsulated, i.e. The entire roof. My master plan is to eventually wall off the back of the garage and put a "mother-in-law" suite up there, but that's for a later time. Right now I just want to put a little heat in the garage so I can work on my snowmobiles, boat and vehicles this winter without freezing my butt off. The rafters are 2x12 so an R38 Kraft faced fiberglass insulation would slide right in, but the charts I see say my attic should have a R40-R60 value. Is there something I'm missing here? How am I supposed to cram that much insulation in the space provided or am I ok with just R38? This is all new to me, I'm a marine diesel mechanic by trade so I've spent my life at sea turning wrenches and insulation is usually an afterthought in my world. Thanks in advance, and again, this surely won't be the last question I have here.
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Old 10-09-2016, 10:39 PM   #2
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


R-38 is plenty. Once you get to a certain level, the heat loss rate is tiny.

You leaving it open or are you covering it? Is the roof vented?
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Old 10-09-2016, 10:45 PM   #3
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


On the St. Marys River - nice! No doubt pro builders and better diy'ers will come by with more accurate information, and much will depend on your local building code, but since a garage is not a living space, I suspect the rules are different. The higher R-value is most often achieved in attics by blown insulation over the top of the joists. Obviously, more is better, but you just want to make the garage usable in the winter so I would think whatever you can put up there will help the cause.

I couldn't tell if your long-term goal is to build an inlaw suite above the garage or by using some of your existing floorspace (you said both "back there" and "up there"). Just be aware that turning garage or attic space into living space requires a lot of considerations, particularly HVAC, and any impact your local zoning laws may have.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:36 AM   #4
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Yeah. That's pretty common for them to recommend more insulation than you can fit. You can get pretty overwhelmed by insulation if you start looking into it. It's complicated. Even if you could fit R-60 insulation in there, what is the R value of the wood rafters themselves? You'll just lose all your heat that way. You could put up some rigid foam insulation to bump up the R-value. But realistically, I wouldn't bother. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Despite the hype about attic insulation, heat lost through the roof is not a huge percentage of the whole picture. Doors and windows are your main culprits. I'd be taking a really good look at how well that garage door seals up and make sure that has some insulation. I see plenty of garage doors that don't have any insulation at all.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:44 AM   #5
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Some great questions asked here that I haven't considered. Is the top of the garage vented? I have no idea honestly. We move in on Saturday, so I'll take a look then. As far as the back there/up there, the stairs are in the back of the garage, I plan on building a wall to seal the loft from the garage area. But again, winter is coming rapidly so this in maybe a project for next summer. The HVAC issue is really kind of whatever, I'm thinking for the limited use it'll really get, I think a window shaker A/C and electric baseboard heaters will get me there, and if not I'm sure that my friend and my sons godfather who lives down the street who is an HVAC tech will tell me that I'm an idiot.

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Old 10-10-2016, 06:52 AM   #6
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


https://www.trulia.com/homes/Michiga...Marie-MI-49783
Link to my new home, you can see in the pictures the garage in question and the stairs going up to the loft.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:14 AM   #7
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


I found surgical gloves and a pair of very thin (look in gardening stores) cotton gloves are sometimes enough. For extended time, I keep a small electrical fan heater directed at the work. Kerosine blower in a garage would be fast but smell gave me headaches.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:21 AM   #8
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Adding living space to a garage can bring up all kinds of local code issues.
Building, plumbing, health and wiring permits will be needed at a minimum.
If this idea is really in your plans I'd be checking out what's what's needed before doing anything to the ceiling.
Just a few of the items that may need to be addressed are how would you tie this apartment into your sewer system, is there enough power ran, is there an outside point of egress needed, will you need to cover up that OSB with 5/8 sheetrock, is there code approved egress windows on the second floor, is there going to be enough head room?
If you do add living space that insulation and venting is going to become far more important in that roof.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:28 AM   #9
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


You said "The rafters are 2x12" so it seems you want to insulate at the roof level and not at the ceiling (joists) of the garage. Big difference.

Assuming the insulation in question is destined for just below the rood deck, you should not install an air permeable insulation in direct contact with the bottom of the roof. Most building codes do not allow that and for good reasons.

But heating a garage space creates other problems, like the moisture that comes in from rain and snow has to go somewhere and often that ends up as ice inside of the wall cavities. You are far enough north that a vapor barrier is still desirable and along with air sealing they can prevent some of the problems.

By the way, I vote for following the code required insulation levels. They are at best "minimum" requirements and if you don't meet them now an inspector can come along later and require the change. Also, there is a savings for more insulation and it definitely pays when you are going to be there for the long term.

Here's some reading for you, and welcome to the forum.
http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...hedral-ceiling

Bud
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:03 AM   #10
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
You said "The rafters are 2x12" so it seems you want to insulate at the roof level and not at the ceiling (joists) of the garage. Big difference.

Assuming the insulation in question is destined for just below the rood deck, you should not install an air permeable insulation in direct contact with the bottom of the roof. Most building codes do not allow that and for good reasons.

But heating a garage space creates other problems, like the moisture that comes in from rain and snow has to go somewhere and often that ends up as ice inside of the wall cavities. You are far enough north that a vapor barrier is still desirable and along with air sealing they can prevent some of the problems.

By the way, I vote for following the code required insulation levels. They are at best "minimum" requirements and if you don't meet them now an inspector can come along later and require the change. Also, there is a savings for more insulation and it definitely pays when you are going to be there for the long term.

Here's some reading for you, and welcome to the forum.
http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...hedral-ceiling

Bud
Wow, thank you for that, it's exactly what I was looking for. It seems that my initial idea of just slamming some insulation in there won't work if I don't want my roof to rot out on me, which I really don't since the garage is only a couple years old. So, I guess I have to talk to someone familiar with the local codes and see what needs done. I'm also seeing why the roof wasn't insulated in the first place also. Thank you so very much.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:23 AM   #11
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Most of the country follows the IBC, international building codes, (and there are others) but local codes can vary in some places and in respect to some issues as they choose to write their own. Earthquakes, tornadoes, soil conditions, and moisture issues are some of the reasons.

You have made a good choice to get informed BEFORE you get too far into your project. I sure hate it when someone comes here needing to fix a problem they just created. We will help, but it is so much easier to do it right the first time. I sure wish the forums like this were available 50 years ago when I started.

As a note, be careful getting advice from local sources, too many are making a living on yesterdays methods.

Does your garage have a ridge vent, soffit vents, or gable vents? One of the early choices you will need to make is to go with a vented roof assembly of what we call a "hot roof" where there is no ventilation and the insulation prevents air with moisture from reaching the bottom of the cold roof. One example of the second option would be spray foam or rigid foam filling the cavity.

The link above has a side bar to more links which lead to even more.

Bud
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:19 PM   #12
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


+1 to the previous recommendations.

You need to address the insulation carefully in this case because of the temperature extremes you will have the home and the issues with moisture in garages.

Here are a couple of pics from the listing (beautiful home by the way).





Roof appears to be vented.



Best approach for you is probably going to be some sort of onsite installed baffling system to preserve the ability to remove the moisture.

http://www.finehomebuilding.com/pdf/021221068.pdf

The ceiling should be covered with an air impermeable covering (drywall) to minimize bulk humidity transfer (more moves on air).
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:19 PM   #13
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Quote:
Originally Posted by Windows on Wash View Post
+1 to the previous recommendations.

You need to address the insulation carefully in this case because of the temperature extremes you will have the home and the issues with moisture in garages.

Here are a couple of pics from the listing (beautiful home by the way).





Roof appears to be vented.



Best approach for you is probably going to be some sort of onsite installed baffling system to preserve the ability to remove the moisture.

http://www.finehomebuilding.com/pdf/021221068.pdf

The ceiling should be covered with an air impermeable covering (drywall) to minimize bulk humidity transfer (more moves on air).
Thank you, it really is just about perfect for my family and our lifestyle except I would have really loved another bath in there but space is an issue. Anyhow, since the loft finishing job is becoming less likely this fall, I'd like to at least try and keep some heat in the garage this winter. Is there anything wrong with the idea of framing up a wall against the stairs in the picture, putting a door in there, insulating that and the ceiling of the garage area between the joists pictured? I get that it's probably not the best option, but again, I'm just trying to retain some heat for a comfortable work environment this winter and really taking the first step on the loft.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:26 PM   #14
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


If you want to wall off the stairwell, that would work.

At that point, insulating and covering the ceiling with drywall would be fine. Make sure to consult with code and you need not fill the space up totally.

Be sure to cover the walls with a code approved thermal barrier as well.
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Old 10-10-2016, 05:33 PM   #15
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Re: 1st time home owner garage insulation question


Quote:
Originally Posted by Parepadarappa View Post
Link to my new home, you can see in the pictures the garage in question and the stairs going up to the loft.
Beautiful new home! Welcome ashore.

As others have said, it's good that you are asking the questions and taking your time before jumping into a project. As you said, you've spent a lot of time afloat and this home ownership thing is new to you. Your latitude and open northern exposure to the river will make proper insulation and draft-proofing key. Some of the folks who have jumped in here seem very good, but also brain-pick neighbours and local contractors . Good luck.
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