Skip to comments.Question about the insulation in my house
Posted on 07/19/2012 2:14:15 PM PDT by Feline_AIDS
A neighbor recently cut down some trees in his yard and took the shade off one side of my house with it. The side of the house now getting tons of sunlight has an office over the garage. That office is now a sauna.
We finished the room ~10 years ago and it's always been warm. But without the shade, it's unbearable. We're talking 90+ degrees with the main AC on. There are 4 recessed lights. I held my hand up to one light can(?) and it was like a space heater. I moved around until I could see the attic vent through the light! There's nothing between that recessed light and the attic. And the attic has a little vent area with hardware cloth over it. And I swear the room is 10,000 degrees.
I went to the attic to look, and the garage is a lower roof than the rest of the house. The main attic fan is above the duct that leads to that extra room above the garage. The only entrance to that tiny attic/crawlspace is now filled by a gigantic furnace/AC duct. Naturally, there's a 3-4 inch gap below the duct, and I can see that there's no insulation above that room.
So, what should we do?
The solutions I can think of:
-Make a shoddy temporary covering for the recessed lights, which we don't even use. (What material should I use for this? Don't want to destroy the lights if possible.)
-Pay someone to come remove the duct, crawl in the teeny space and put down some insulation. (Can the duct be moved? Or would that cost a million dollars?)
-Put a reflective curtain (if such a thing exists) in the single, east-facing window.
- Replace the bulbs with the curly ones (I hate them, but would nearly eliminate the heat).
- Add a good film to your window: the most reflective you can find.
- Mess with the registers and see if you can blow more cold air into the room (lower the flow to others).
- Get a small A/C unit if above doesn’t fix/help.
You should be able to go to Home Depot and buy insulation and a machine to blow it in. You do not need to get up there in order to insulate. I have a similar problem. I have a small fan on the floor in front of the vent and turn it on when I am in there to pull more air from the duct/vent
I’d put an air conditioner in the single, east-facing window.
The easiest solution, and less costly, would be to install low-E windows.
You don’t have easy, quick access to your attic? That’s bad; very bad.
You need access to your attic—if for no other reason than to inspect the inside of the roof for leaks. And, I’m not talking about removing a vent. You need a PERMANENT way to easily get up there. Either an attic staircase or a hole (I recommend spending the extra money and putting in a pull-down staircase).
You need to add insulation to your attic floor. This will pay for itself over time as it will (1) reduce your air conditioning bills, and (2) more importantly reduce your heating bills.
The answer is obvious: sue your neighbor for removing the tree and baking your office. :)
Some free advice (so you know what its worth)and questions to ponder:
- When the room was built, was AC directed to the room...or do you just rely on airflow throught the door to cool it?
- I’d replace the cans, with a traditional fixture, if there is room.
What about the garage below - is the ceiling of the garage insulated? That could be a problem too.
- I’ve seen ‘reflectors’ in windows....but they don’t look so great. Depending on the size, you may be able to buy a roll of auto tint at Wal Mart, and tint it. The tint, along with curtains or blinds should help alot.
- Is the room tall enough to put a drop ceiling in - that would help.
The prior post had some good suggestions. If your local codes permit it, consider one or more of those rotary extractor things mounted on your roof, as close to the peak as you can. They will spin like you can’t even believe and they move an astonishing amount of air. Be sure to check your codes! Don’t assume you can just throw those up there. They are prohibited where I live!
Insulation will help you, but if you have blazing sunlight on the side of your bldg, you are going to have to dump that heat, either actively or passively.
For the windows I suggest covering with film for the panes by Gila.
It is available at Home Depot or at gilafilms.com.
My husband’s office has a gigantic floor-to-ceiling window that faces due west in Texas. We saw a huge temperature difference.
You will need to install at night, since you can’t apply the stuff in the heat (the edges will curl.)
You might want to consider removing the recessed lights, blowing in max insulation, and installing track lighting.
I would keep procrastinating for 2 more months. The problem will go away by then.
I am confused by the description of your attic.
However, closed cell spray foam will be your best insulator in a small enclosed space. Spray foam has the highest R value/inch. It also does not require a vapor barrior. It can also be injected through a small hole. Unless your doing a very small area, most insulation can be installed by a professional company for about the same as you can buy it at the homecenter.
Therefore, call the two biggest insulation contractors in your area and have them give you an estimate.
I recommend a powered attic ventilation system.
Most are designed to kick on automatically when
the temperature exceeds a certain point.
Sometimes whirlybirds just don’t cut it.
Are the recessed light edges even with the ceiling? If so go to home depot and get a sheet of Blue/Pink foam insulation board-4’X8’, cut squares/rounds to cover the recessed light holes, paint to match and use Liquid Nails to attach it over each light opening. If the lights have a decorative ring around them glue two pieces of the foam board/cut to size and hollow out one side so the piece fits over the hole flush with the ceilling and glue them over the lights.
I would pay someone to come in and move the large duct so you can blow celulose insulation into the attic. Cellulose insulation costs about $2.00 per cubic foot-installed.
There are sun blocking/insulated shades available but the cheapest thing to do is to get a large car windshield sun shield which is foam coated with reflective aluminum, cut it to fit the window space and attach it to the window with aluminum tape (easily removable-leaves no residue when removed-high sticking power) available by the role at Walmart.
Thanks for the responses so far.
We can access the attic, but this space is under another, lowered section of the house. The house has a main part and two wings off the side. One wing was completely finished off, the other has a garage on the first floor and had an unfinished storage space above. We finished off that storage space into a room. That’s the sauna.
We have an attic over the main portion of the house, and we have full access to that. We don’t have access to the space above the formerly unfinished wing. There is not enough room to stand in that part— it’s maybe 3 feet high and at a roof angle. The duct goes into the lower roof’s gable, blocking access to that crawlspace.
Also, the heat comes out of the lights when they’re off. It just flows into the room from the light cans.
1) Install a pv powered attic exhaust fan.
2) Insulate between your attic and the room
3) Insulate with spray foam the side walls
4) Plant your own tree
5) Solar film on the windows
6) Move your office
7) Upgrade your airconditioning
Call this guy:
I recently did that with my husband for a job. It's not all the expensive and the machine was a piece of cake to use. Note that you need two men to lift the maching, a 120# woman is pretty useless there.
You need to know where to build frames to vent the soffits but Home Depot is very good with that info.
The machines are incredible, and easy to use, the insulation comes in compacted bales that even I could lift. We insulated a 10,000 sq ft second story attic in 4 hours including picking up and returning the equipment and clean up.
Remove the light cans you have and instal sealed light cans designed to be used with attic insulation otherwise any insulation you put in the attic will spill through the openings in the light cans.
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