Location: New York, USA
Problem: Extreme ice damming & an estimate of $10,000 for energy efficiency improvements.
Solution: Improve ventilation, bulk up insulation, air seal and then add AtticFoil® Radiant Barrier to keep the roof cold (prevent heat loss from the home).
Result: The cost for all materials was under $1,000 overall and the customer was able to do it himself to save on labor costs. The home is now more energy efficient and comfortable.
Faced with major ice damming at the front of the property, significant heat load on the second floor during the summer and an energy audit that recommended nearly $10,000 worth of work, it was clear that action to greatly improve energy efficiency was necessary.
The first essential step was to gain access to the attic above the second floor rooms. Once I got into the main attic, I found only R-19 fiberglass between joists to a depth of about 5 and ½ inches. There were no baffles to provide a path for air movement from the soffits to the peak. Good air movement above the insulation is critical to keeping the roof cool which minimizes snow melt and refreezing at the overhang.
"Since I'm Scottish, and handy...I opted to tackle the task myself..."
During the Spring of 2011, we sought estimates to upgrade insulation and ventilation. The proposals were $3,738 with one company and $2,705 with another one. Since I'm Scottish and handy with poor recall of past adventures in difficult working spaces, I opted to tackle the task myself. Others in similar circumstances might wish to call the pros for a project like this.
The total project which took about 40 hours to complete (mostly during rainy and cool days). If you choose to visit your attic, I strongly recommend respiratory protection, foam knee pads (they don't slip off joists), long sleeves and legs, a hat and fingerless gloves.
The first task, after the access hatch, was to have a contractor install two box vents near the front fire wall peak. That improved ventilation and provided a better work environment. Then in order to allow safe access to all sections of the attic, I installed 48' of raised walkways supported by 2" by 6" by 8' planks with plywood decking (4 by 8 sheets cut in 16 or 24 inch strips). With safe movement assured, I then proceeded to install over 20 baffles above the insulation in all bays running from the knee walls to the attic.
Also necessary was the replacement of all 6" can lights. The lights installed by the builder were no-insulation-contact with many openings that leak large amounts of air from the conditioned space. The replacements I installed were air tight and allowed insulation contact. The next step was to cut and install R-30 (9") un-faced fiberglass rolls throughout the attic.
The finishing touch was a covering of Atticfoil® reflective foil barrier over all insulation. The AtticFoil product is highly reflective foil with fine threads embedded in it to make it extremely strong and tear resistant. It is said to reflect 97% of the radiant heat striking it from both sides and thus makes the insulation more efficient.
"It's tough, [but] easy to cut, handles well and goes a long way..."
Once the main attic was finished, I applied AtticFoil to the knee walls on which I had previously applied 2" foam board and then installed R-30 insulation and foil over the floor of the walk-in attic.
The cost for all materials was just under $1,000 and about 40 hours of manual DIY labor.
I purchased some foil form a big box store and it was super expensive and a small quality. Found AtticFoil, read reviews and decided to buy a roll. Great decision! It's tough, easy to cut, handles well and goes a long way. Just put it in, but I have high expectations that it will work as good as it looks.