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Insulating Attic 1850s Vermont Cape

I am restoring an 1850s 1.5 story cape in central Vermont. The attic currently has about a dusting to an inch of vermiculite in between the joists. The walls have been blown in but apparently only to the level of the bottom of the upstairs windows. I would like to blow insulation from the attic down the eaves and into to top of the walls so they are insulated full height. I would also like to insulate the attic floor with blown in cellulose to somewhere in the r-48 to r-60 range. My problem is with the eaves and knee wall slanted ceilings in the second story.
The house has no soffit vents and seems to have got along just fine without them for the last 150 years. There are 4 small vents, 2 on either end of the house as seen in the pictures. I'd like to be able to just blow insulation down the eaves fill the wall cavity and then just keep filling till full then do the floor but this goes against most conventional wisdom on airflow, but most of this is based newer construction methods and on having soffit vents...
The attic space is minimal about 32'x14, and maybe 7 feet at the peak. The roof is trussed with 2x4 construction and with nails coming down from the roof and very little space to work in Im not sure how I would get some sort of air space baffle in there at all. Any tips ideas? Oh its a brand new standing seam metal roof at about a 11:12 pitch I'm not too concerned about ice dams even with the old galvanized roof it shed the snow just fine.

Attaching pictures is not working for me right now maybe I need more posts?

Re: Insulating Attic 1850s Vermont Cape

You could send the pictures to one of the moderators via PM and they my post them for you or you could post them to a photo hosting service like photobucket.com and then post a link to them here.

But, to insulate this house properly, you need to gut the interior, then use batts with a proper air space above so that air flows under the roof sheathing. What has worked for 150 years will not work once insulation is installed.

If the rafters under the slanted walls/ceiling are only 2x4, you will need to add furring strips to build that out or you could just use 2" thick 4x8' foam boards glued and screwed to the rafters and then new sheet rock hung with 3.5" or longer screws. For a little more insulation, you could cut 2" thick foam boards to fit into the cavities, but flush with the bottoms of the rafters so you have a 2" air gap between the foam and the roof sheathing.

You will need to add soffits, which is easy enough to do if you have any eave overhang at all. Then you can add blown in or batts to the attic and to the floor of the knee wall space and insulate the knee wall itself. You will also need to insulate the gable ends with batt insulation and a good vapor barrier.

BTW, with that vermiculite up in the attic, I would avoid disturbing it and just lay some batt insulation over it. Wear a good respirator until it is contained. You could also vacuum it with a HEPA vac but wear a respirator until it is all gone and the dust has settled. It may be worth testing the vermiculite for asbestos before disturbing it.

Re: Insulating Attic 1850s Vermont Cape

picture links:


Gutting the interior is not an option to me. I have just finished fixing most of the plaster work and in the smaller bedroom and the bathroom adding furrow strips or foam board and loosing all that head space is not really a realistic option anyway as its already pretty tight in those places.

[QUOTE]For a little more insulation, you could cut 2" thick foam boards to fit into the cavities, but flush with the bottoms of the rafters so you have a 2" air gap between the foam and the roof sheathing./QUOTE] This is possibly an option I could live with although it will be a pain to get them up into the attic through the small opening and low ceiling but its at least an option I could toy with. Anyone else have any out of the box ideas?

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