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This article describes inspection methods and clues to detect roof venting deficiencies, insulation defects, and attic condensation problems in buildings.
At INSULATION LOCATION & QUANTITY for ATTICS we discuss the relative benefit of adding insulation to a cathedral ceiling versus building walls in the same area.
Some buildings, by their shape or design, simply don't make it easy to install continuous intake venting at the eaves or lower roof edge, or continuous outlet venting along a ridge. For example, a house which has no roof overhang at all makes intake venting at the eaves difficult. Sketch (above left) is courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates shows the two basic strategies for insulating cathedral ceilings and flat roofs.
We call this a "hot roof" design because failing to vent the roof from below not only misses a chance to avoid ice dam leaks and condensation damage in cold climates. Watch out: Be sure to inspect the roof surface from outside for leaks and damage every year and to fix any damage quickly. The sketch above is provided ourtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates and shows the two basic strategies for ventilating cathedral ceilings or cathedral roofs.
Less insulation: Reduce under-roof insulation level to 3 A?a€? fiberglass (R-11) under the cathedral ceiling (not good energy savings) - not recommended but functional, just poor insulation value. Solid Foam: Install solid foam spray-in insulation under the roof a€“ a a€?hot roofa€? design. When re-roofing from the building exterior: if the roof decking and possibly roof framing have been extensively damaged by leaks it is usually necessary to repair the roof from outside the building. The insulation used in those applications is tapered to provide positive roof drainage to roof drain points as well as to improve the building insulation system and cut energy costs. Tips for insulating a cathedral ceiling, take care to seal ceiling penetrations such as around light fixtures or ceiling-mounted hard-wired smoke detector.
While fiberglass insulation is an excellent and effective product for insulating most building cavities, in areas where there is extra risk of trapping moisture (and thus rot or mold infections) such as crawl spaces and cathedral ceilings where roof venting may be absent or minimal, we prefer to use closed-cell foam insulation products or spray-in icynene foam insulation: these products can seal the cavity against drafts and they do not as readily pick up moisture nor do they readily form hidden mold reservoirs.
In cases where there is no under-roof venting system (no soffit intake vents, no ridge vents), a "hot roof" design is followed: the roof cavity between rafters can be filled with insulation, followed by installation of a perfect vapor barrier, followed by finish surface of drywall or whatever else. While we prefer to avoid ice dam leaks by good building design and good under-roof ventilation, where conditions require stopping ice dam leaks on an existing structure, proper installation of heating cables may be the fastest and cheapest solution. Continue reading at HOT ROOF DESIGNS: UN-VENTED ROOF SOLUTIONS or select a topic from the More Reading links or topic ARTICLE INDEX shown below. Or see INSULATION LOCATION & QUANTITY for ATTICS to discuss the relative benefit of adding insulation to a cathedral ceiling versus building walls in the same area.
Question: What is causing drip marks from leaks out of cathedral ceiling in a Northern California House? I'm not sure if I have answers to my specific issue solutions, so I'd like to give you some background and ask your opinion.
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that would permit a more accurate, complete, and authoritative answer than we can give by email alone.
I agree that it makes no sense to replace the roof covering before we have a clear diagnosis of the cause of leakage; Worse you could be wasting a lot of money re-roofing only to discover that "leaks" continue because the cause was improper venting, soaked insulation, air leaks, or that there is moldy drywall and wet insulation that need replacement in the ceiling. Guess: the home has either one or more leaks into the roof cavity (cathedral ceiling) or condensation accumulating in that cavity.
If heat is left on the water source could be an exterior leak, ice dam leaks, or interior air leaks carrying moisture into the roof cavity. If the water source in the roof cavity is from air and moisture leaks from the interior, the passage points into the roof are most often at penetrations such as around light fixtures. Then I would go to the two most-suspect areas in the roof cavity and make a test cut sufficient to inspect the insulation for signs of wetting and mold, the cavity side fo the drywall for water and mold, and the roof sheathing for water, mold, and to confirm the air space. When we've done enough inspecting that we are confident of the cause of the drips you describe, only then does it make sense to start "repairing".
I'm updating insulation on my cathedral ceiling on a 1966 bungalow which currently has no vapour barrier. You could add a layer of high-r foam insulation IF you are building a hot-roof unvented design.
If interior space permits I'd consider adding solid foam on the interior ceiling and new drywall over it to increase the total R.
I pose that the total project cost to R&R intact roof sheathing for this project is higher than insulating from the interior. I'm unable to tackle this from the inside do to decorative wood paneling in the cathedral part of the roof that I don't want to disturb. Rigid board between rafters -which I've done -is a lot of cutting and fitting and sealing, and costly compared with spray-foaming the whole cavity. While we prefer the vapour barrier on the ceiling warm side, it's less critical than sealing around any ceiling penetrations on the inside (lights for example).
We have a drop down ceiling in our office about 1200 sq feet with only one wll return for the ac. You need an onsite inspection by a competent HVAC or other building professional to first understand how your system is designed. Separately, if you are seeing sagging and moisture or condensation problems that is a potentially serious issue risking mold contamination and even ceiling collapse - conditions that need to be inspected as part of answering your question. I have a Big Beam house with all rooms, except bathrooms, with exposed ceilings of 2 x 6 Douglass Fir. Certainly I would not do anything about your ceilings nor add insulation before doing some investigating. I'd go to the most-suspect point where leaks occurred and make a small opening, say 2x4" to look at the cavity side of the drywall, the wood framing, the existing insulation. Questions & answers or comments about how to add or retrofit insulation to cathedral ceilings in older homes.
ASHRAE resource on dew point and wall condensation - see the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook, available in many libraries. Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. America's Favorite Homes, mail-order catalogues as a guide to popular early 20th-century houses, Robert Schweitzer, Michael W.R. Asbestos products and their history and use in various building materials such as asphalt and vinyl flooring includes discussion which draws on Asbestos, Its Industrial Applications, D.V. Brick Nogging, Historical Investigation and Contemporary Repair, Construction Specifier, April 2006.

Lighting, proper use of: proper aiming of a good flashlight can disclose hard to see but toxic light or white mold colonies on walls. Nogging: See this photo of exposed bricks on a building exterior on a building exterior in Canada.
Pergo AB, division of Perstorp AB, is a Swedish manufacturer or modern laminate flooring products. Rubblestone Wall Filler: See this Lartigue House using exterior-exposed rubblestone filler between vertical timbers of a post and beam-framed Canadian building. The Stairway Manufacturers' Association, (877) 500-5759, provides a pictorial guide to the stair and railing portion of the International Residential Code.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors.
One of our first projects was to build a deck at the top of the garden where we get the most sun using reject oak planks from a local timberyard. The (almost) completed hobbit hole partly glazed at the front and with handmade chestnut shingles cladding the lower front section to the left. Inside the hobbit hole showing the seat made from reclaimed planks and the window made from a reclaimed glass table top. We heated our house using a 4kw woodburning stove; the wood for which we harvested from the sweet chestnut coppice we help to manage for a friend. We built this wood shed with one volunteer in a couple of days (not including making the roof shingles).
There are hundreds of chicken houses and arks available to buy but we decided to make our own, designed to meet our specific requirements and fit into our tight space.
The chicken house was made from offcuts of local cedar planks and raised up on legs to allow a dust bathing area and nest box beneath.
The chicken run was made from coppiced chestnut, reject cedar planks and reject roofing batten with a hand riven sweet chestnut doorway. There’s nothing like the taste of freshly made pizzas cooked in seconds in a wood fired oven.
MCP Facebook feed Mason County Press 55 minutes ago Mason County Press shared Oceana County Press's post. Although it’s true that the water comes into the house through the roofing the problem is generally not caused by the roofing material at all. As I previously explained, shingles were only designed to shed water which is running downhill, not standing in a pool. In modern construction we use vents in your soffit, baffles to make sure the air can get around the insulation and another vent on the ridge of your roof to allow this unwanted hot air to escape.
In addition to helping in the winter, proper insulation and venting will also keep you much cooler in the summer.
They have been produced for a millennium ( centuries and centuries ) and certainly have proven themselves. A house with a pyramid roof shape or complex roof shapes makes outlet venting at a ridge difficult. In hot climates the roof temperature will be much higher on an un-vented roof, resulting in shorter shingle life. In buildings where there is no roof venting anyway, and where ventilation is difficult or impossible to achieve, an un-vented, well insulated "hot roof" can provide a high-R-value ceiling and may be the second-best alternative to preventing ice dam related leaks in cold climates. With 2x6 rafters this will give about an R-19 roof, higher if you use thicker solid foam insulation.
Before replacing roof decking, consider re- decking the roof with insulated structural panels that include eaves to ridge ventilation in their design. Adding ventilation under a solid-foam insulated pitched roof in order to dry and cool the building interior would, in turn, lose the benefit of the roof top insulation. More moisture enters building cavities through these cuts in the ceiling (or wall) drywall than permeates through the drywall itself. In a cold climate and depending on the level of roof insulation, water entering the roof can freeze, accumulate as ice, and thus return to the interior as leaks and drips that continue for quite a while in thawing conditions. If heat is off and the house interior is at freezing temperature (not my first choice for building preservation), the water source in the ceiling is more likely to be an exterior leak.
The percentage of moisture that moves directly through solid drywall into a building cavity has been shown to be quite small. In any event I would be cautious about leaving windows open in a home with heat off because of security risks, animal entry risks, blown snow and rain damage risks etc. The shingles need replacing so I will be tackling this from the outside by removing the roof sheathing.
Otherwise the foam layer atop the rafters and under the roof sheathing will have its R-value wasted since ventilating air would be moving between the underside of the foam and the upper side of insulation between the rafters.
Should I look at going with only 2" of spray foam to provide the vapour barrier, add batting and then the rigid board insulation to cover the joists before sheeting? If the office ceiling space above the drop ceiling is being used as a return air plenum you don't want to subvert the design by adding addtional vent openings. Finally: consider (but defer) using an insulated chimney from the ceiling up through the roof. It would be a shame to simply blow insulation into a cavity only to find later that you have to remove the whole shebang to get rid of moldy drywall that nobody attended. It was a common construction method that employed masonry as infill between the vertical uprights of wood framing." -- quoting the web article review. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. The main timber we use is sweet chestnut which we cut on rotation from a friend’s woodland each winter. Chestnut logs and used glass bottles are inserted as the walls are built up for added interest and texture. We needed some storage for the chopped wood near to the house where it is most accessilbe so we designed a lean to structure against the garden shed (itself made from the neighbour’s old garage and clad on the two visible sides in salvaged driftwood planks). In 2011 we finally got around to building an oven outside our back door using bricks from the local freecycle network and lime plaster. Again we used coppiced sweet chestnut and built it with the help of one volunteer, taking 2 days. Made with sweet chestnut wood from a coppice 200m away and some reclaimed timber found on site. It’s been a mild winter so far but in years past I have dealt with major ice cycles coming from my roof.
When we heat our homes, eventually a certain amount of heat rises above the drywall and insulation, enters into the attic and warms the roof. Really, aside from a solid rubber roof, no roofing material including steel, composites etc are designed to hold standing water. This gives the best air path, eaves to ridge, but costs more for the labor to nail furring and cut insulation into pieces to fit between rafters.A  a€“ works well, costs more. Worse, once the insulation has become wet the cavity has lost insulation value so the problem is likely to be worse, especially if the source is condensation from inside.

I do like eaving heat on to keep the home above freezing, say at 40 or 45F which can avoid building damage that comes from extreme temperature swings inside - conditions that are not anticipated by most modern construction; But as I suggest, let's wait on the cure until we understand the disease. From your articles you still recommend a vented design to keep the roof cool in the summer and prevent premature wear on the shingles. So, I have to use spray foam or rigid board(sealed around the edges) between the rafters vs the batting because of no vapour barrier correct? Readers should see INSULATION R-VALUES & PROPERTIES our own table of insulation properties that includes links to articles describing each insulation material in more detail.
The Manufactured Home Owners Association of America is a National Organization dedicated to the protection of the rights of all people living in Manufactured Housing in the United States.
This is called coppicing – an ancient and recognised conservation technique that produces a structure within the woodland of different ages of trees, enhancing the quality of the habitat to support more wildlife species.
The chimney is an offcut of a flue pipe that I found dumped in a field with some other building waste. Snow actually creates some insulation from the frigid air temperatures and accelerates the melting at the shingle level. If both ends are open, warm air will naturally rise, in fact, low pressure created by wind at the top of your roof will actually help it draw. The good news is that it doesn’t always require an expensive repair bill to correct the problem. I may have to re-roof - Has modern technology suggested a new method to vent a Big Beam home?
From talking to 4 insulation contractors, one main problem is the tight space, only 4 inches, between the slanted ceilings in the 2nd floor closets that flank our staircase and the roof sheathing. 71-78, Association for Preservation Technology International (APT), available online at JSTOR.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order.
Should I take advantage of this mild winter and have my roof done before we get a big snow? I will address the differences in roofing materials along with their pros and cons in another article.
This means without good insulation and attic venting the ceiling of a room you are trying to cool down to 70 degrees could be at 190 degrees causing your AC to work extra hard.
Sometimes it’s as simple as another layer of insulation and if you are already getting your roof replaced, venting will be a standard option. I have ridge vent and last year added more sofit vents so that I have a 12 inch vent every third rafter.
3 of the 4 contractors really don't want to deal with my problem, said they would get back to me, and never did. A In 1993, the Council became part of the School of Architecture, and since then has been known as the School of Architecture-Building Research Council. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home.
Sweet chestnut is a naturally durable timber not requiring chemical preservative treatment. ROTHBURY — Donald Pider, 34, of Hesperia died early Tuesday morning, April 26, after jumping from a moving vehicle on Winston Road near Bartlett Road. That melted snow trickles down the warm roof until it gets to the unheated eve where the it re-freezes.
Of course you’ll need safety glassed because ice chips will fly and you’ll need to be careful not to chop into your actual roofing! Once your attic has a good covering of insulation, a couple of other real trouble makers are bathroom fans that blow into the attic and attic access doors. All it can do up there is cause trouble like melt snow in the winter and soften your shingles in the summer.
Beefed up insulation and a fast escape route for that heat can save you lots of money and sweat in the summer.
In older homes it can be a bit more challenging but an improvement can almost always be made. Will spraying the sides of the rafter and adding some rigid board insulation between the rafter and sheeting work? Someone told us we needed to insulate the system and replace some of the tiles with plastic egg grates. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material. This frozen water begins to create a larger and larger dam until it’s soon several inches high and you have a genuine puddle of water on top of your roof. They also make salt pellets for breaking ice dams and I have use products like Peladow to assist as well. Mike Roberson, owner of Pioneer Home Inspections says those un-insulated attic access doors are probably the common culprit he sees during inspections. Considering two options; (i) foaming all of the HVAC ducts , better sealing all of the can lights and vents, then putting 4 inches of additional fiberglass (blown in) or extending the vent chutes to the ridge - in each rafter and spraying foam to the underside of the deck-removing the R-48 from the ceiling rafters.
His recommendation: blow in cellulose from the top down into this 4 inch wide space and then go into the closets and blow cellulose through the interior walls between each stud making a top and bottom hole. The Council's researchers answered many critical questions that would affect the quality of the nation's housing stock.How could homes be designed and built more efficiently? Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order.
View on Facebook·ShareMason County Press 3 hours ago Mason County Press shared a link.
If you can get some of the big stuff off, get some salt up there and maybe a little help from the sun, it should clear up. Simply put, a bare piece of drywall or a wooden door is like a chimney of heat escaping your home. I just looked up R values and 4 inches of cellulose is only about 10; probably not good enough to prevent all future ice dams. I called a general contractor and he said that I don't want to give up that flow of cold air from sofit vents to ridge vents by filling that space with insulation. Bottom line: if i go with this insulation contractor I will get some insulation but will eliminate the winter cold air ventilation that is also nice to have under the roof sheathing.
He said that he found gaps around the chimney, around lights and around ceiling fans) Your comments are appreciated, thank you.

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