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Damn it gets cold upstairs

Post in 'The Green Room' started by wahoowad, Dec 13, 2006.

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  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Attached is a photo of my house. Upstairs I have 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. I keep the door shut to two of the bedrooms as I don't use them very much. My upstairs stays really cold even though one would think all the heat would rise up there. I know some heat rises as I can feel the river of cold air flow down the stairs as if I left a window open.

    House was built 1987, Energy Star plaque says it supposedly well insulated. I know attic has insulation, just not sure how much. I guess those gables roofs make it cold? I do know there is insulation between the angled room walls and the angled/gables roof elements. Sometimes I go upstairs and feel around windows, crawlspace doors and electrical outlets expecting to find a major leak but never find anything significant.

    I just don't get why it is so cold. I have shut the HVAC vents off in the two bedrooms to keep from pushing heat into unused rooms. It was still cold when I left the vents open and the doors open.

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  2. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Second floors are odd sometimes ...........

    We have three bed rooms on the second floor and it stays with 2°-4° of the first floor (2°-4° cooler)

    My brothers house has a second floor and has to put a curtain up at the bottom of the stairs otherwise when the first floor is 72° it will be 85° on the second floor.

    stairs in both homes are in the center of the house.
  3. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Nice little house. Built in 1987, looks like a more mature floor plan. In any case, I assume your post is related to heating with a wood stove. That said, it sounds to me like you've just got to find a way to move the air around.

    It looks like you have living space on the second floor. And with that in mind you probably have a cathedral ceiling upstairs. Do you have any ceiling fans upstairs? Maybe the warm air is getting trapped up at the top of the peak. Also, on the same note, if you do have cathedral ceilings, insulation is limited to the cavity of space between the ceiling and the roof. Hence, far less opportunity to probably add insulation. You could add SIPs on the roof, but that's fairly expensive. Alternatively, depending on your set up, possibly 4x8 sheets of foam from the inside, then re-drywall. Cheaper, but again a cost involved and also lots of work.

    It also seems that your home if fairly well shaded. Looks like you have oak trees on your property from the tanic acid stains on the roof. Perhaps opening up the trees a little may help. Also, how is your home oriented to the azimuth of the sun?

    Just brain storming here. Hope this helps.

    -Kevin
  4. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    I agree with Roo, upper levels are funny creatures. We have a tri-level with three bedrooms on the upper level. The upper hall is sort of wide and short, the three bedrooms and a bathroom all open to the hall. That hall will stay 3 - 4 degrees warmer than the bedrooms, even when the bedroom doors are kept open.

    As Wrench said, I would try moving some air with a fan or two. It sounds like you already have some movement, with the cold air rolling down the stairs. Maybe a little extra help will make a difference.
  5. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    You gotta get up in the attic and check your insulation. You need to find out how much. What was considered "good" for 1987 is "not good" for 2006. Plus, you don't know if the insulation was messed with later or installed properly.

    Also, what kind of windows do you have. Single pane, double, wood frame, aluminum or vinyl? Any access hatches that may be leaking air from the attic? Looks funny, but, the plastic window insulator kits work well.

    I do agree with previous posts, moving the warm air in and the cold air out wil help things. KD
  6. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    One peaked ceilings upstairs, the rest normal ceiling. The one peaked ceiling upstairs isn't very high. I have both foam sheeting and insulation in the cavity space between the ceiling and the roof.

    I use a heatpump (well, lets say it runs) and augment it with my woodstove.

    Doublepane windows, 1987 vintage. While less efficient I at least have no leakage from them or around my crawlspace doors. I check. I would expect all my warm air to flow up there and it to be warm, but it is not. I will put a thermometer up there and see though. maybe it is not as cold as I think. I'll get up in the attic too. I assume my R value is printed on my insulation? I am pretty ignorant when it comes to insulation.

    I basically feel like I never get the overall mass of my house warm. The walls always feel cold so they suck the available heat out of the warm air produced by the heatpump and woodstove. I could put more insulation in the attic, but the walls and ceiling of the first floor probably still will suck up my heat and lose it again. Damn slab doesn't help but not asking about tips for that (I know it would require major rework).
  7. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Wapato WA, in the Yakima Valley of Central WA
    Oh NO! Those kits are terrible. They trap moisture and create mold. You're much better off using a heavy curtain or tacking up a blanket.

    -Kevin
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