Insulation Room too hot in summer

Published on August 14th, 2017 | by Henri


Upstairs room overheats

Q.  One of the upstairs rooms becomes unbelievably and unbearably hot in the summertime. Two separate carpenters have taken a glance at the construction in that end of the house (they were hired for other jobs) and have only remarked that it looked “different,” but didn’t expound upon what that meant or what needed to be done. This room is on the northerly side of the house, with one full side facing west (no shading), and the north side adjoins the garage. We have insulated the adjoining wall appropriately. Even when we put air conditioning in that room, it’s a challenge to keep it comfortable. I’m wondering if it’s not venting properly up through the ridge vent and this is why it becomes so hot. The bedroom on the other end of the house, which has a southerly AND westerly face with no shading, doesn’t get like that at all.

Who would I consult with about this matter? A structural engineer? A construction contractor? I’m at a loss as to where to turn, so I’m hoping you will be able to point me in the right direction to find help. With deepest appreciation.

A.  The two carpenters were not much help. Too bad they did not explain what made the construction of this room different; it would have been helpful. Perhaps they had no idea and simply deflected the question.

I am reading that the garage is attached to the house on the ground floor and that this bedroom is over conditioned space with its northern window overlooking the garage roof. I am not clear as to which wall you insulated; is it the wall adjoining the garage? But that would be on the main floor. You haven’t mentioned if that bedroom gets uncomfortably cold in the winter. If it does, the insulation problem may be more serious than I think it is.

If it is only a summertime overheating problem, I suspect that it has to do with an attic insulation problem, and I doubt that it is caused by a ridge vent problem. It would seem that, if it were, it would affect both bedrooms. Has this problem started recently or has it been there all along? How long have you lived in the house?
Since you have a conventional attic, the insulation should be checked.

Over the years, I have inspected attics with similar problems and found that cellulose insulation had been blown away over time under strong windy conditions because there were no baffles at the eaves to protect it and the soffit vents had been installed tight to the exterior wall. I have even seen fiberglass batts blown clear off the attic floor and folded back some six feet under similar situations, albeit drastic. Baffles are essential to protect the insulation from strong winds, and soffit venting should be at least 2-inches away from the walls to minimize the effect of strong winds.

Cellulose insulation can also be blown away by wind blowing through gable vents, which, by the way, should not be used with a combination soffit/ridge venting system as it short circuits the proper venting between soffit and ridge vents.

Under certain drastic circumstances insulation can also be soaked by wind-driven snow and rain through gable vents to the extent that it cannot fully dry over the summer. Depending on when this problem started, insulation could also have been poorly installed or omitted altogether over that bedroom. Construction can be fraught with many inconsistencies.

A professional engineer or experienced contractor should be able to check your attic for possible insulation problems and suggest or make necessary repairs. If no problem is found with the insulation, an energy auditor may be the best person to perform a thorough investigation with the variety of tools available to them.



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