July 2011: Floor Areas
Floor areas come in all kinds of configurations and locations within existing buildings. Sometimes it is not uncommon to have four to five separate areas in one building alone: conditioned basement, attached crawlspace, floor over a garage, slab, and open floor (like a breezeway or converted porch). The ensuing recommendations might be very different for each area if in fact they were all being addressed. Some considerations obviously are:
· Location of heating plant and distribution system at present and future
· Area’s connection to any existing conditioned area already
· Space limitations under, around, on top, or inside of area and joist cavities
· Recommendations driven by: moisture, noise, smells, and material itself
· Budget constraints of treating area because of its’ location, size, existing surfaces and future plans
Seldom would I recommend insulating a floor area unless it had a dedicated heating system situated above the PT boundary as with a wood stove, space heater or electric resistance heat. Most problems occur because the insulation is not present, is sitting 3-6” off the floor or is being subjected to temperature extremes or wind washing as with open or soffitted areas. When direct inspection is impossible or impractical one should look for small holes up in side of enclosed space. A lot of information can be gathered from having a 12” piece of hanger on hand: size of joists, direction of joists, location of insulation, amount of insulation, type of insulation, quality with which it was installed, if blocking is present or is needed.
Areas to pay particular attention to are areas over garage ceilings that contain duct work or areas between floors that are connected and in communication with other open or vented areas like porches and vented soffits.
Some companies have been experimenting with just doing the perimeter of the garage ceiling if there is some insulation in place to stop the short circuiting at the perimeter. Some spaces are just going to be cold as in uninsulated slab floors with no exterior foundation insulation and the only solution is to build up the floor or add heavy padding and carpeting. Remember, one’s feet are almost always in contact with the floor and if your feet are cold you are going to be cold.