Insulating the attic
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Susan Hatch



Joined: 27 Jun 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2008 7:05 pm    Post subject: Insulating the attic Reply with quote

Hello,

I have a 1792 Federal house, though I thought of it as Colonia, and the house is insulated in the attic. However, there are apparently bags of insulation in the attic.

I am wondering if it is wise to insulate it. There is a ridge vent, which someone told me is like trying to breathe through a straw, and the little ventilation holes in the soffits.

I was wondering how this would work?

We are addressing ventilation problems, which, I think should include removing the storm windows...

Working on drainage, wet basement, dryer vented into crawl space, lack of ceiling fan in bath---though the kitchen remains unvented.

I want to remove the picture windows and put in double hung.

So, what to do about this ventilation, and what sort to use?

Susan
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jade



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 786
Location: Hawley MA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi susan.....
you are asking all the right questions...personally, i am not qualified to respond with any real expertise...another restorer i know will be able to assist you......contact rob cagnetta at www.heritagerestoration.org ...he is in providence rhode island and is very knowledgeable about insulating and ventilating old houses....

good luck and let us know what you learn....
....jade
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rncx



Joined: 21 Jun 2008
Posts: 660
Location: Little Rock, AR

PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

is the roof original or not?

wood, slate, and clay roofing is not necessarily water tight, especially after 200+ years. this is alleviated by the decking being able to 'breathe'. insulating the ceiling in the attic could very easily cause rot by trapping water.

if your attic isn't finished, you would be much safer in insulating under the attic floor, imo.
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johnleeke
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Joined: 20 Aug 2004
Posts: 3004
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RNCX is right. In traditional building technology the purpose of the attic is to provide a large volume of air so that when the wooden roof framing gets wet the water can move out of the wood into the air in the attic. Dry wood does not rot.

Block the movement of moisture out of the wood, such as with insulation in the rafters, and rot is much more likely.

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Jim_Rogers



Joined: 06 May 2008
Posts: 6
Location: Georgetown, MA, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At my house which is a story and a half, we have sheet rock attached to the underside of the rafters, at the second floor. And we only have a small ceiling area.
I've been thinking about adding some insulation to this ceiling and wondering if I could blow some more insulation between the joists down these bays between rafters. This insulation would be between the roof deck and the sheet rock layer.
My concern is about trapping any water by blowing in some insulation.
What can/could I do?
This house could be balloon framing and I don't have any insulation that I know of and I need to improve it for this coming winter.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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otdriller



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 5
Location: Oley, PA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too have an old house that was in need of insulation. I contacted a "specialist" and he advised me to insulate the floor of the attic. I had planned on using the attic floor boards for the downstairs floors anyway. The attic floor was insulated and plywood was placed down for the attic floor. I have a wood shingled roof and the shingles need a lot of ventilation to dry. Hopefully this solution will help on the heating cost and not compromise the roof.
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la_koala



Joined: 16 Sep 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject: So insulating attic floor is OK even if little/no vents? Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm in a similar situation. I have:
Effectively 3 stories plus attic under the peaked roof
Roof extends over both sides of the 3rd story and there are two dormers--one on the front side and one on the rear, and windows at either end of the 3rd story.
1st and 2nd floor are normal living spaces
3rd floor space has finished plaster walls, but no heating or electric
Attic space under the roof peak is completely unfinished inside. It is accessible via ceiling hatch in the 3rd floor.

Now, the previous owner put vinyl siding on all of the outer walls of the house about 6 years ago. No wall insulation at all.

I cannot see any vents available in the attic space. Would I recognize any roof vents if they were there? From outside the house, I don't see any soffit vents. It looks like there's vinyl covering them up if they were there.

My husband would like to lay insulation batts on the attic 'floor' between the joists.

I've been reading about moisture on this site (thanks!), and I don't want to do anything that would compound any moisture issues already potential due to lack of attic venting and the vinyl siding.

It sounds like you all are saying that because there's a space of air in the attic space into which the vapored air might come up, that's enough to alleviate concerns about condensation in the attic space. Is that correct?

Would we be introducing any issues into the finished, but unheated, 3rd floor rooms by insulating the attic floor (effectively the 3rd floor's ceiling)?

What, if anything, would we need to do about the kneewall spaces that are next to the dormers and the 3rd floor rooms? Those spaces have plywood 'floors', but the knob-and-tube wiring for the 2nd floor ceiling lights is visible underneath that plywood.

Thanks!
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c1802362



Joined: 17 Jan 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also have the similar attic issue: my home was built in 1737. It appears that sometime around 1960, R-13 batting was added to the attic above the lath & plaster ceiling between the 7 inch deep ceiling joists. According to ORNL, here in Connecticut the attic should have an R value of 49. So, I have two choices 1) build up the floor depth to add enough blown in insulation to get R-49 (approx 7 inch height increase) or 2) pack the joist bays with foamboard (~ R of 6-7/inch) to get the R-49 value.

I'd like to go the foamboard method as its available in 3 and 4 inch thicknesses. I also intend to cover everything with a one inch thick foamboard before putting the floorboards back down to create a thermal break.

Has anyone tried this before or have any other suggestions?

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brand55



Joined: 13 Apr 2013
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have an old house that was in need of insulation. I had planned on using the attic floor boards for the downstairs floors anyway. The attic floor was insulated and plywood was placed down for the attic floor.
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