November 14, 2004

Adding Attic Insulation

Heading into our fourth winter in our townhouse, my wife Yumi finally convinced me that we had to add insulation in our attic. I hate working up there -- it's dark, cramped, dusty, and potentially dangerous. However, our top floor is heated by electricity, and poor Yumi was freezing in her office as she disliked the cost of electric heat.

Our attic had about 15cm of blown cellulose insulation, which works out to about R20, when new homes in cold climates should have as much as R50. It rarely gets below freezing here in Burnaby, but R20 is on the low side.

After exploring several websites, we decided to add a layer of R20 fiberglass batts.

I figured we needed about 675 square feet of coverage, which works out to 9 bags of R20 23-inch batts. We decided to start with 5 bags, which proved to be a wise decision, as even with the back seats down we barely squeezed 4 bags into our Subaru Outback, and tied the fifth onto the roof rack.

We also bought a respirator and some high-quality disposable masks, along with safety goggles.

We ran a halogen work lamp up the hatch, and hauled several 2 X 8s and 2 X 6s up and laid them out to provide walkways. Boosting the bags of batts up was a chore, as they barely fit through the hatch.

We then got to work, starting at the far end. Of course there was an obstacle course of awkward framing to wiggle through. Yumi opened up bags and passed me batts that I laid in place, being careful not to cover the soffit vents.

I have a low melting point, and even though the temperature in the attic was around 7C, I was soon sweating profusely, and my goggles began fogging up. I soon discarded them, trading off itchy eyes for any sight at all. Then my respirator began filling up with sweat and slipping around on my face -- what fun!

When I reached the area above Yumi's office, I was astounded to discover there was no insulation at all above part of her room! No wonder her office was frigid. The bay windows had been repaired some time in the past, and apparently the workers never bothered to replace the insulation above them.

We got nearly half the attic done today, and it already feels a bit warmer on the top floor. My thighs and lower back are stiffening up from all the squatting and crawling around, but Yumi is happy :-).

Posted by Paul at November 14, 2004 06:24 PM