Options to Add Insulation for Cold Bedroom
LESLIE: Roger in Alaska is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you?
ROGER: Yeah. My wife and I, we’re living the dream up here in Alaska. We bought an old bed-and-breakfast on the hillside. And we did a great energy audit on the main house. The problem is the master bedroom is like an add-on over the garage. And it wasn’t – we couldn’t access the attic when we insulated the attic of the main part of the house. And so now, the master bedroom is the coldest room in the house.
TOM: Yeah, I bet.
ROGER: And one thing I’m thinking about doing is – it’s got a high ceiling and I’d like to foam-board the ceiling and then put a – instead of that sheetrock, cover the sheetrock with foam board and then do a wood covering? And I’m wondering, do I need to be concerned about the vapor barrier? And two is should I cut a hole in that ceiling and stick my head in there and see what it’s got in there before – you know, as long as I’m going to cover it anyway.
TOM: So, this high ceiling, is it a high, flat ceiling or is it a cathedral ceiling?
TOM: So it’s probably attached to the bottom of the rafters then, correct?
ROGER: I think it is.
TOM: So that means you really don’t have very much insulation at all. So that’s always going to be a challenge for you.
So are you thinking of lowering the ceiling so that you have an area that you could insulate?
ROGER: No, nope. Not lowering it so much. Just adding the foam board to the surface, like the pink board or the blue board or something. And then, if I’m going to do that and I’m going to disrupt the sheetrock anyway, I’m considering cutting open the peak. And if I can blow foam insulation in there – not foam insulation. Cellulose or something if I can reinsulate that space or add insulation to it.
TOM: You certainly can take a look in there but I suspect you’re not going to find any space for that. Putting the foam insulation on the bottom of the drywall is not a bad idea. You could basically create a layer that way. I don’t think you need any additional vapor barrier, though. You can probably attach it to the bottom of the drywall right now. Because the foam is a pretty good vapor barrier, frankly, by itself.
ROGER: Mm-hmm. And then the only other thing I considered doing is – that bedroom is the furthest from the furnace. Can you put a booster – a fan on your duct or something like that?
TOM: You can. But what you might want to do is just put a small electric-resistance heater in there as a supplement so on those coldest nights, you can just add a bit of heat to that room.
ROGER: Yeah, the problem is even in the middle of the day, with a – that room has southern-facing windows and it’s upstairs. Heat rises. In the middle of the day, that room – I’m just concerned – I guess I really need somebody to take a good look at it with the infrared guns or something to see where we’re losing heat at.
TOM: I think that’s probably a good idea. I’m also thinking that your floor may be not insulated well enough. Because being above the garage, you’re getting some temperature transference through there, as well.
ROGER: I think you’ve probably got a point there. Maybe I could bump up the temperature in the garage a little bit. I keep it pretty cold in there.
TOM: Or insulate the garage ceiling.
TOM: That’s one thing to check. If that garage ceiling is not insulated, that could be the biggest source of your problem right there.
ROGER: So how would you – when you say “insulate the garage ceiling” …
TOM: Is the garage ceiling open? Do you see the floor joists?
ROGER: No, it’s sealed with, I believe, plywood.
TOM: Well, take a peak above that and see if there’s insulation in there.
ROGER: Alright. Well, sounds good. Sounds like a plan.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.