Home>Discussions>INSULATION & HVAC>We bought a money pit... and its cold!
9 posts / 0 new
Last post
g and a's mom
We bought a money pit... and its cold!

We bought a house that was built in 1973 and seems to have little insulation. I have a few questions if someone could help.

1) The kitchen is over the garage, so the kitchen floor(hardwood)is very cold. Last fall, we had insulation blown into the garage roof, but has not been that effective- it is still cold. Looking at another post, someone recommended blowing in air tight expanding insulation. That was not presented as an option to us by either company that came to give an estimate. What they blew in was blue fluffy stuff. Should we investigate getting the insulation removed and new expanding insulation stuff blown in?

2) The walls are cold. You put your hand against the dry wall and they are cold! Representatives from the same companies noted above looked behind some wall outlets and observed there is some insulation. As a result, they did not recommend blowing insulation in the walls- the old insulation would prevent the new stuff from filling the cavity. I still feel like there must be some option, but 2 different people said the same thing.

3) I never asked this, sounds like a stupid question but here it goes. We did have them blow insulation in the attic. I went up there recently and noticed we have vents at the end of each side of the house that are uncovered ( there are screens and slats to keep out animals, but cold air comes right in) It makes sense to have the attic vented in the summer, but should we be boarding/insulating during the winter?

For heat we have forced hot water that is heated by gas. The furnace is original and not that efficient. ( I do have it cleaned every year).

We have been been doing little things to improve the comfort and reduce energy costs ( ie the insulation, programmable thermostats, weatherstripping), but we feel like it is still cold, here are probably other things we could do and are not thinking about, and we are not being smart about our decisions.


Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

I think you are making right decisions.

Rooms over a garage have always been very hard to heat---the strategy is to build an ENVELOPE of insulation to keep the heat in---yes, I DO think you should consult an insulation dealer on spraying insulation in the garage ceiling.

Could you post the square footage of the kitchen, and the number of feet of hot water baseboard (or # and size of the radiators)---and if they get hot, or just lukewarm, when the heat comes up.

Sometimes an inadequate # of baseboard ft. or radiators are put into a room & it remains cold.

The insulation blown in should stay---insulation is never wasted---the attic vents should stay open to prevent ice dams due to melting roof snow & ice.

g and a's mom
Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

Thanks for responding.

The area is open floor plan so a combined kitchen and family room. I have no idea on square footage. If you think of it as a large rectangle, the baseboards go all around outside walls on the long part of the rectangle. At one of the short ends is the kitchen and the other is the family room fireplace.

One thing I did not mention since I was so focused on the cold floors, but should have.... we also have floor to ceiling picture windows that that make up one of the long parts of the rectangle. Silly home buyers that we were, we did not even consider the impact of large picture windows that are single pane glass. We recently received an estimate to replace the windows with Andersen Renewals. From what I have read, windows don't have as great a return on energy savings, but in this case, I would think they would. Thoughts?

I will check into spray insulation in the garage. Thanks.

And thanks for answering my question about the attic vent!

g and a's mom
Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

I forgot to address one of your points... when the heat is on, the baseboards heat right up and are hot.

Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

g & a's mom:

Heavy cloth window treatments do wonders on picture windows during cold weather--of course they should be left open if the sun shines in during the day to get the sun's radiant heat.

It's a simple matter to compute the sq.footage of the 2 rooms---you can then compute if there is enough baseboard.

If, say the 2 rooms total 30 X 10 or 300 sq. ft X 50 (heat factor) = 15,000 btu/hour needed to heat the room (or if a heat factor of 60 is used) 300 sq.ft. X 60 = 18,000 btu/hr needed to heat the 2 rooms.

Each foot of baseboard puts out 580 btu/hr---thus 18000/580 = 31' of baseboard (at least) should be present.

g and a's mom
Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

Thanks for the info on the calculation. What's your view on the windows? We also have some rot on the outside casings that is beginning to seep through on the inside casings. The former owners didn't have their gutters cleaned so there was/is a lot of water damage we are slowing fixing.

Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

Hard to visualize it from here without actually seeing it---could you post any photos???

I think you need a low-cost digital camera with a USB cable going into your computer.

Pix windows allow a lot of heat to escape right thru the glass.

Aside from window treatments, perhaps a window contractor could suggest a modification, especially if it's not bowed pix windows.

The rot issue should be addressed ASAP.

Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

I agree with the window treatments, and they do work. We had a large picture window in our dining room that let in a lot of cold air. Once we put up curtains (heavy duty thermal ones), then the room became much warmer without turning up the heat.


Re: We bought a money pit... and its cold!

With hot water heat you might consider radiant floor heat for the kitchen before you install insulation.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.