drdiy

Fiberglass vs. Cellulose Insulation / Regulating Heat From a Radiator / Quieting Ductwork Noise / Sticky Situations

In Ductwork, Insulation, Radiators on January 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Q:

I was wondering if you could shed some light on my insulation problem.

I have a 12’ x 20’ kitchen nook off the back of my house. It is built over a cement slab with cinder block sides (approximately 16-inches deep). The only way to get under the nook area is via the rafters in the basement. In the winter when we walk in the nook, the ceramic flooring is cold and the nook in general is much colder than the rest of the kitchen area. There are no duck work runs from the main basement into the nook area for vents in the upper nook area.

I would like to insulate under this nook but I am nook sure how to go about it. I was going to blow insulation in from the basement. Is this the proper way to do it? If so, should I fill in the area completely or leave some are for breathing?

A:

You have two choices. The first is to dig down around the entire perimeter on the exterior. You then install insulation directly to the block walls and cover the insulation to protect it from UV rays and damage.

My second suggestion (and also my choice) is to have an insulation company blow insulation into the crawlspace and onto the perimeter walls. Ideally, the insulation should completely cover the block walls as well as the band joist on the top of the walls. It should extend into the crawl a minimum of 12-inches. I wouldn’t fill up the entire crawl with insulation. It wouldn’t make the floors any warmer and if any work were ever needed under that nook, it would be a nightmare as well as a mess. Last, you might reconsider purchasing those big pink fuzzy slippers.

Q:

I’m hoping you can help me with my chimney problem. The fireplace in my old cottage in Bay View seemed to be leaking smoke in a bedroom on the second floor several years ago. In addition, when I started looking into the situation I was told that the furnace that I had installed ten years previously should not vent through the same chimney. I checked out several options and decided to have a metal chimney liner installed. The installer said that the chimney was small inside but was large enough to have two flues, one for the furnace and one for the fireplace. Since the liner was placed, there has been smoke coming into the living room. He came back once and adjusted the liner, but that made the smoke worse. He doesn’t seem to have any other ideas. We want to use the fireplace. Do you have any suggestions on how to fix it?

One of the options I didn’t pursue because I thought it would be unnecessarily expensive was to replace the furnace with a high-energy furnace that could be vented outside of the cottage so that the chimney would be dedicated to the fireplace. Now if I do that, I guess I would have to also replace the stainless steel liner as well. Do you have any suggestions other than installing a gas log? We love to have a wood fire at the cottage.

A:

If I understand your letter, everything about your chimney is not only illegal, it’s unsafe.

Without going into all the details that could take up this whole page, you need to get someone out there before you use the fireplace.

When I started building houses, my dad warned me that if the fireplace, which includes the firebox, smoke shelf, damper, flue, etc. is not done properly, it’s worse than having no fireplace.

First, understand the furnace and fireplace can never share the same flue, that’s unsafe.

The guy you hired, I think, installed two metal flues into the old masonry flue and that’s not good. By doing so, he reduced the flue size of the original flue so the fireplace backs up into the living room. That’s also not good.

I think your original masonry chimney leaked smoke into the second floor bedroom because it was not lined and produced a potential fire hazard.

I think the option you didn’t pursue, was installing a 90 plus efficiency furnace that was needed. But I also think you need to check into having the chimney cleaned and inspected. It may need to be relined properly or rebuilt. Cha-ching!

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