Written by Bob Bird
Bird Family Insulation
Are you getting sick & tired of your “too hot” and “too cold” bonus room perched above your garage?
After 21 years of working for Atlanta’s homeowners, getting their homes more energy efficient, and more comfortable, my family has learned a few things about bonus rooms.
Our Love For Comfortable Rooms Shows!
In fact, we have a dedicated service, called the Bonus Room Makeover… just for homeowners who are tired of suffering with these stubbornly uncomfortable rooms in their homes.
Because I do this every day of my life (it’s my passion), I can easily forget how it may not be that important to you!
For instance, last week I was called to a two-story home. This property was immaculate. The landscaping was professional, the interior cleanliness of the house was among the cleanest I’ve experienced, and it was perfectly quiet inside this house.
Bob’s Famous Question… (separates us from all the others).
As I wrapped up the attic evaluation, I asked my customary question…
“Do you want to take me to the most uncomfortable room in the house, for me to evaluate it for you?”
He said yes, and guided me to the master suite closets. These are two very large walk-in closets, that comprise almost 400 ft2 of conditioned space.
“These two closets are very HOT, and very COLD.”
I nodded that I understood.
As I looked around, there was a supply-air vent in each closet, and the larger closet also had a return-air vent. All vents were located in the ceilings.
Because I’d been in the attic, I already knew that the ceiling over these rooms was completely inaccessible to us. The opening to the “tunnel” was crammed with the two flex ducts that serve these rooms. It was a low, tight roofline. Nobody was climbing in there!
Spotting the two sets of scuttle doors, I asked permission to open them.
“May I open these scuttle doors, and get a good look behind these kneewalls?”
What I discovered is a dream come true! (For me, anyway).
It Was Hidden Beneath His Floors
His plywood subfloor did not extend all the way to the outside walls of the house. Therefore, I was able to poke my head in the floor system, and see what was going on in the way of any insulation between the garage ceiling and the carpeted floors of those uncomfortable closets.
What I discovered was that the 6” fiberglass batt insulation was lying on top of the sheetrock garage ceiling!
Literally, I could see all the way across the rooms, from one side to the other.
His floor joists are 16” tall, manufactured trusses! When you subtract the 6” batt from the 16” truss height, you quickly see that he’s got a 10” VOID directly beneath the floors of his conditioned space.
And in the exterior wall, behind one of the kneewalls, is a massive, huge gable vent. The opposite side of the room has a soffit, with soffit vents.
Because of this huge amount of venting, his floor system is negatively influenced by the atmospheric conditions outside of his house – exactly what you do not want.
All of that outside air is languishing directly under his floors. Hot, humid summer air; and cold, damp winter air.
Not only that, but when his garage heats up like an inferno in summer – that heat migrates upward through that thin fiberglass batt, and into his floors.
As constructed, his beautiful, large master bath closets are like a hammock – completely vulnerable and unprotected from the outside environmental conditions.
As you might imagine, I’m trying not to behave like a Mexican jumping bean, as I show him my pictures and explain my discovery!
- We don’t have to perform a Drill-and-Fill from the garage.
- He won’t have to finish and paint his garage ceiling.
- Instead of 6 to 7 man hours to insulate this floor system with our Drill-and-Fill technique, it will take half that time.
Get This Right, and Everything Else Works
You can imagine, no matter what improvement might be applied to this part of his beautiful home, if this floor system isn’t addressed, they will never enjoy the comfort they desire.
I suppose they can spend $6000 on a mini-split ductless hvac system dedicated to these two rooms. But it’s like air-conditioning a screened porch!
So, in my opinion – the overwhelming most important improvement (fix!) regarding your bonus room comfort issue, is to address the floor system between your garage ceiling and the floor of the conditioned room(s).
That floor system needs to be a consistent, strong thermal boundary.
- As I see it, you have three choices:
Tear off the sheetrock ceiling and spray the subfloor with spray foam insulation. And install new sheetrock, finish and paint.
- Pump cellulose insulation into the voids and cavities in this floor system. It has to be a densepack technique. Gain access either by Drill-and-Fill from the garage ceiling, or by threading the hose into each joist bay from behind the kneewalls.
- Pull-up the carpet & pad, and Drill-and-Fill through the plywood subfloor. We use tapered wood plugs to seal the holes when we use this densepack technique.
If you’re fortunate like this homeowner, you can get your floors insulated without performing any surgery on your home!
Now, here’s the kicker that I simply don’t understand: I’ve yet to hear back from him, authorizing the project. Perhaps he’s found a cheaper contractor to do the work.
Maybe he’s content knowing the “why” behind his uncomfortable rooms. Or, he’s saving his money, waiting to authorize the project when he has it in his budget. My minimum invoice is $1900, (if he wants me to return and do the floor system as a dedicated project) and his quote to add this bonus room floor project to his attic makeover added $1800 that he was not expecting.
As I think back over my behavior, I’m a bit embarrassed that I acted so exuberant when I discovered that we already have access to the floor system, without drilling 40-60 holes in his garage ceiling!
Are you sick and tired of that stubbornly uncomfortable room above your garage? Take my advice, investigate the floor system between your garage ceiling and the floor of your conditioned room. Why? Because odds are, the ceiling, vaults, and kneewalls have some insulation. Probably not enough, but they should have some.
But that poor floor system…. It will need some love.
Thanks for reading!
Bird Family Insulation
Do you like this article, and want to learn more? Here’s another similar article by Bob: https://birdinsulation.com/the-solution-for-your-uncomfortable-bonus-room/