When finishing an attic triangular shaped attic crawl spaces are often
created. A crawl space is frequently formed when a knee wall is constructed in
the attic to establish the lowest level of the finished roof line of the
finished attic space. Attic crawl spaces are notorious for having insufficient
insulation in them. Also, attic crawl space doors are typically handmade on
the jobsite and often leak like sieves letting in cold air drafts.
If you have a room with attic crawl spaces as Iíve described, and there is a
crawl space door, inspect the space for adequate crawl space insulation.
Make sure the knee walls have proper
faced batting or rolled insulation installed in between each stud bay. Also make
sure the paper facing is up against the drywall of the finished attic. If paper
faced insulation was not used, make sure there is a plastic vapor barrier up
against the drywall, with the insulation placed over it.
In addition, make sure there is attic crawl space insulation in the lower level
ceiling joist bays. If there is a plywood subfloor on the attic crawl space
floor you may want to cut a section of the subfloor out to confirm that there is
insulation underneath it. If there is not, then attic crawl space insulation
should be placed over the subfloor. You can use either batt or blown in
Make sure to install sufficient attic crawl space insulation for your
particular region of the country.
The Department of Energy has an excellent website that specifies the
recommended amount of insulation that should be installed in the various areas
of a home for the different regions of the country. In general you should
install between R-30 and R-49 insulation in the attic, depending upon where
you live. In warmer climates R-30 insulation is adequate, however in colder
climates R-49 should be used.
Also inspect the attic crawl space door. If you feel cold drafts emanating
from the door frame, install weatherstripping around the interior door frame
to create an air tight seal. You may also want to put a bottom door skirt on
the attic crawl space door to prevent cold drafts from coming in from
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If there are any plumbing supply
lines in the attic crawl space, make sure they are insulated with foam pipe
insulation. In addition, if the pipes are in the knee wall stud bays, install
additional rolled or batting insulation over them. I once had a copper supply
line pipe burst that was in an attic crawl space. It created a lot of water
damage to the lower level of the home. When inspecting and repairing the pipe I
noticed it had no foam pipe insulation around it, and only minimal rolled
insulation placed over it.
Photo by Mark Donovan
Though attic crawl spaces can be major sources of home heating loss, they do
have their benefits, particularly when they are insulated properly. Attic
crawl space storage is one key benefit. Unlike many attics, an attic crawl
space is typically easier to get into, assuming there is an attic crawl space
door. Consequently they are great for storing holiday decorations and other
items that are used infrequently. An attic crawl space is also easier for
housing some types of HVAC equipment, thus freeing up space in the main attic,
basement or utility area. Attic crawl spaces are also ideal for integrating in
closets or built in book cases.
So before the cold weather hits again make sure your attic crawl space has
adequate insulation and a tightly sealed door. By doing so your home will
maintain a more constant and comfortable temperature and you will save on home
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