05:23AM | 11/05/04
Member Since: 11/04/04
13 lifetime posts
Looking for some tips regarding my newly constructed home here in Michigan, where the weather is starting to get cold...

Everyone knows that heat rises, right? Why is my upstairs 6-10 degrees colder than my downstairs? I have a two-story, very open floor plan. In the front entryway, the ceiling extends all the way up and there's an overlook from upstairs. So, very open from bottom to top. The builder tells me the cold rooms are due to the way the house is facing, but the two rooms that are the coldest are on opposite sides of the house. Furthermore, there is air that comes in under the molding in my master bathroom, so much so that I have to roll up towels to try to block the draft. I know that has something to do with the problem in that room. But, otherwise, my son's room on the other side of the house is freezing, too. I mean, as soon as your feet hit the floor in that room it is like an icebox! He comments that his bed is like a refrigerator! That's really not very funny when you're only seven years old.

My questions are as follows: What are the causes (other than the air leakage in the bathroom; the other problem upstairs is on the other side of the house) of this significant temp. difference if heat is supposed to rise? Second, can someone tell me specifically what I should ask the builder to do to fix the air infiltration? Also, is there a way to determine if I have adequate insulation?

Sorry to ramble on, hope someone can help!

Thank you!


06:40AM | 11/05/04
Member Since: 11/04/04
13 lifetime posts
Thanks for the reply. Actually, my son's room is not over the garage. We have a two-story home and his room is directly above the den which is on the west side of the house. The garage is on the east end and there is nothing above it. As for the master bathroom, there are two registers, one on each end of the bathroom near the floor. There are cold air returns in each bedrooom upstairs.


07:28AM | 11/05/04
Member Since: 07/01/03
558 lifetime posts
To Harold's sage advice, I would add that if the furnace is centrally located below the first floor, these rooms are the ****hest distance from the heat source. There are ways to boost air-flow to these extremeties by using duct fans or enlarging ducts to the upstairs. Check to be sure you have warm air flow to the upstairs. If you have heat, the problem is insulation. Supplemental baseboard space heat as mentioned is a band-aid option but you need to correct the root cause.

This is a new home and the builder should be responsible for determining the source of excessive air infiltration. A new home should never exhibit free infiltration like this. During the insulation phase of construction, insulation should have been placed into the joist cavities of the second floor along the rim joist. My guess is that the insulation contractor simply insulated the first and second floor walls and did not adequately insulate the space between the joists (at the ends), or along the first joist and rim joist (parallel with the joist along the outside wall).

Now, can the builder correct this? It requires removing drywall along the outside wall to inspect the insulation, and add insulation if it is missing. Its just a drywall job, but can be a bit messy. Hope you will post back and let us know if this sounds like a solution.


07:56AM | 11/05/04
Member Since: 11/04/04
13 lifetime posts
Thank you for your input!

I agree that the builder is responsible for fixing the problem, but he has been hesitant to address many of the issues we are having. His solution to the air infiltration is removing the siding that extends up to the master bath on the outside and "caulking the j-channel". I'm not sure what a "j-channel" is....does this sound reasonable? I get leary when I hear "caulk" as a solution.

Also, the things you say about the joist that between the first and second floors? sorry to be so ignorant! LOL The rooms in question do have VERY cold floors! And in some of our rooms, even downstairs, there is a drafty feel around all the baseboards. If the builder removes the drywall, how does he check to see beyond the "blown-in" insulation that is between the studs?

I need to get really specific here, because our builder is reluctant to fix anything and we have found that in order to have a proper resolution to a problem, we need to figure it out ourselves and tell him what we want done.

Thank you again.


04:48PM | 11/07/04
Member Since: 11/04/04
13 lifetime posts
Still looking for some specific info here...what are joist cavaties and rim joists and where are they? Also, as to my previous question, if we remove drywall, how do we see beyond the "blown-in" stuff that's already there? Also, someone told me that if the heat run is on an exterior wall (2x4), that the space is probably not insulated because there isn't room. Does that mean that the air is loosing all its warmth by the time it gets upstairs? How do you rectify that? Also, what kind of contractor would I call to inspect for this kind of thing?

Sorry for all the questions...just not looking forward to $395.00 monthly heating bills again this year.

Thank you.


06:24PM | 11/07/04
Member Since: 07/01/03
558 lifetime posts
To understand where insulation was omitted, you need to understand some basic house framing principals. BTW, caulking the vinyl siding J-channal will not solve the problem.

Picture a framed wall ending in a sill plate. The wall is insulated. On top of that wall, joists are places to support the second floor. The joists are held in place by a rim joist or blocking to keep them from twisting. On top of the joists is the second floor plywood, then the walls are framed on that. Again, the walls were insulated.

The insulation contractor did not insulate the critical space along the rim joist or blocking. This allows cold air to enter under the floor causing drafts.

Look at the diagram on this link and note how insulation is placed in to the joist cavities (2D and 4D).

If this is missing, you will have drafts and cold floors.


05:00AM | 11/08/04
Member Since: 11/04/04
13 lifetime posts
Thank you very much for the info. It makes complete sense. I just hope we can compel the builder to fix it!


05:15AM | 11/08/04
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Never had this done personally, but I've heard that there are outfits that can do "thermal imaging" to determine heat loss. (Probably just a way of detecting infrared radiation.) The uninsulated areas jump out at you in pictures.

They can also put in a 'whole house' fan and feel around for air infiltration.

I know on really cold days we can practically do this without the special camera. There are a couple of places in our home (probably like most) that just seem to radiate cold on really cold days. I haven't gotten to them, as our bills haven't been bad and, well, other priorities.

I like that page that TomH sent, by the way. Interesting.


-k2 in CO

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