How to remove insulation from rafters in room over garage

Clay B
by Clay B
I have a room over garage, where they builder has installed insulation incorrectly. My first step is trying to figure out, how to remove what's there. The insulation is in the slanted part of the ceiling/roof, between the roof/rafters/ceiling/drywall. I have access at bottom behind the knee wall, and access from above in the attic area. It's paper backed and was stapled in. I've tried to remove it, but it just very tightly packed in there, plus glued to the paper, very difficult to get it out. Other than removing my drywall/ceiling, any ideas? I'd like to put in the baffles(Proper vent), and insulation, not sure how to do this in such a confined space. The builder put in soffit vents, and a power attic/roof fan, but the air can not get from the soffit vent, to the roof fan; hence, this is why I want to do this. This room gets very hot in summer as compared to the rest of the house. I'm sure this is a major contributor.
  11 answers
  • 3po3 3po3 on Dec 21, 2012
    Have you considered an energy audit? You can often get them at a discount by working with your utility company. An energy auditor should be able to find the best and most comprehensive way to deal with your heating issues in that room. They can also help you figure out how to replace that insulation, if needed.
  • It would probably be best to pull the drywall so you can make sure everything is installed properly whether you want to go with the vented option or consider a hot-roof option. You may also wish to look into going with a cool roof coating or material to help block the heat from getting in their in the first place While I agree with Steve on the value of the energy audit, I would recomend you shop around and find an "auditor" that knows the options - in very few locations will you get a "comprehensive" one from a local utility. For more on cool roofs, hot roofs, etc...
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Dec 22, 2012
    Living in Atlanta, we get some heat in the summers! Some 40 years ago, we had 2 turbine exhaust fans put on the roof, had insulation put in put in the attic, but the best thing we did was plant some trees in the front yard to block that west sun! It made live bearable. Since we have retired and have lost our dependence on A/C, we do not turn on the main unit much any more because our activity area is on the back or east side in the hottest part of the day. We put in some small window units to cool down the sleeping rooms just before bedtime. They have timers so you can run them for a couple of hours until it cools off. Some people may not want this solution, but it sure cuts down on the electric bill since these units are 110! And they cool only 1 or 2 rooms instead of 11 rooms!
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 22, 2012
    Your builder installed based on standards for cathedral ceilings. How much insulation is in the "floor" of the attic space? Is the garage below insulated? or conditioned? is there insulation in the floor of this room ( ceiling of garage). You may have some luck fishing some pvc pipe behind the insulation to provide a air flow path. BTW.... the paper facing in the insulation is most likely stapled to the tops of the ceiling joists. Trying to rip it out will remove the vapor barrier
  • Sounds like a project. Depending on how thick the insulation is in the bay will determine how tough it would be to get the air baffles into the space if at all. The nails coming through the roof are going to be a big issue also. They will snag anything you try to push through. The PVC pipe will work if you just want to get air from one area to the other but it won't help with the moisture buildup on the roofing sheets against the insulation. You're going to need something sturdy to push through the bay to get that air gap. The material they now use for those baffles is usually styrofoam or thin plastic and will break or bend easily. Perhaps a piece of 1/4" lauan underlayment with a rounded edge on the front so as not to snag the insulation or nails. A PVC pipe sliced open and jammed onto the front edge of the wood maybe. The nails will give it a little air gap. The longer they stick through the bigger the air gap will be. This is gonna be a major project on your list. Good luck.
  • It sounds as though you have a few issues going on. From what I understand you have a room over a garage. One each or one of the sides you have a partial roof/attic next to a knee wall area in the room. Then you have an attic above the room. Is that correct? First off, you cannot have both a ridge vent and a power vent in the same attic. You need to lose one or the other. I suggest that the power fan be removed. If you can push PVC pipes between the insulation and the roof so to compress it enough to push the baffles up into place. That would be one method other then removal of the ceiling. However I would look into poured foam insulation in that cavity. A professional application of foam will compress the fiberglass and fill the cavity with closed cell foam. Closed cell does not need air to allow movement of moisture. They insert a hose down or up each bay area. Then pumping the foam mix they slowly pull the plastic hose up as the foam begins to expand. The foam compresses the fiberglass and it simply stays in place. The extra cost of doing this in this fashion outweighs any cost and time issues and payback for the savings, not to mention the increased comfort is way worth looking into doing. To understand why this works, you need to understand the difference between a hot roof and a ventilated roof. It is all about moisture. A ventilated roof creates a passage way for hot, air laden with moisture a way out of the attic area. If this did not occur your standard ventilated attic would decay, rot and grow mold. It also causes ice damming in the colder months. Every home regardless of where it is located in the country that shows ice damming in the winter suffers from poor ventilation. A hot roof, or non-vented attic. Works by preventing any moisture from getting near the dew point where it can change over to liquid moisture if the temperature gets cold enough. By having enough foam in place, the surface also never gets cold enough to condense moisture on the surface. Closed cell foam prevents moisture from moving through the cells of foam preventing moisture from moving through in the gaseous state. However the entire attic area, and in your case the room(s) over the garage along with both the high attic and lower knee wall attic must be also foamed directly to the underside of the roof sheathing. The soffit vent must be sealed off and foamed tight, as well as the ridge area that vents that part of the house be sealed as well. No air in or out is allowed. The floor is also a big issue. Way to many times fiberglass is placed between the floor joists without any sort of air sealing. Ideally foam in that area is idea, but if you have enough fiberglass you should be ok. As long as you place foam board blocking using can foam to hold them in place. These blocks should be placed just below the knee wall down to the Sheetrock of the ceiling below. Once in place no air can flow over the space between the top of the fiberglass and the bottom of the floor above. This will make a big difference in how comfortable your 2nd floors become. I hope you understand what to do here. If your confused. Feel free to call me. My number is on my profile. I will be glad to explain this to you further over the phone. If I tried to do it here, It would turn into more of a book. As there are a lot of variables to each method of sealing and insulation.
  • New Age Global Builders New Age Global Builders on Dec 27, 2012
    Just remove the base, meaning whatever is in the front of the rafter whether it be sheetrock or wood etc. Once you rip out the base or sheetrock you should be able to remove it. I am a General Contractor so If you live in Manhattan or the boroughs I can personally help you. You can read learn more about what I can do for you on my website.
  • Clay B Clay B on Jan 02, 2013
    Woodbridge.... My roof has a power ventilator, no ridge vent. Yes it is a cathedral type ceiling in my room over the garage. (see diagram/photo I found online). I've got an insulated floor, insulated knee wall, insulation in the rafters(slanted part), and insulation on the floor of the attic (over ceiling). Problem is, the building has soffit vents in the gutter area behind kneewall, and a power vent at the peak, but they did not install baffles/proper vents in the rafters/slanted part of the ceiling. I guess my problem is not how to remove the insulation, but how to get a space between the insulation the the roof sheathing. As someone mentioned above, inserting baffles will be difficult with the roof nails protruding down. Inserting anything would be impossible from the knee wall side, but I may be able to do it from above the ceiling. Baffles I know come in about 4ft lengths, but the area of the rafters/slanted part of roof/ceiling is about 8-10 feet long. Removing drywall is not a viable option. The diagram is exactly my situation. The builder put in the correct soffit vents, power ventilator, but the air coming in the soffit vents has no where to go. I've even thought about adding power vents on the end of the house, to pull the air out of the knee wall area..hence air would enter the soffits, and out the power vents on side/end of house. Then on the very peak of roof, I've got the power vent, and maybe I should add a vent near the peak on the side/end of house, to let air into the attic area?
    comment photo
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 02, 2013
    I'm stll sticking with my PCV pipe idea these could be installed in 5 foot short with a coupler if you do not have the room above a 1 1/2 pipe per joist bay would allow som good flow. To aid in the insertion a blunt cap would not tear into the insulation,once installed the cap is pulled and reused for the next one.
  • You can treat both attic areas as separate ones. The lower attic can have one or two roof vents installed just below the knee wall area. This will allow air to be drawn up from the soffit area. If you have a power fan in upper attic, then you need a gable vent at least at one end. If you currently have gable vents with the fan. The fan is short cycling the air and not drawing any air from lower attic. You may want to again assuming you have the gable with the power vent to close them off so the fan must pull air up from the lower attic area. Ideally power fans are the wrong thing to use. They create lower pressure areas that pull heat and moisture into the attic from the living spaces of the home. If natural air flow is not enough to do the venting work combined with the proper amount of insulation, then changing anything other then adding more natural ventilation will cause mold, decay, insects and rot to occur in the house. On your sketch be sure to block off the floor joists where the knee wall meets the ceiling below. Use foam boards and spray foam to seal these areas. It is common for insulation in this area to drop down that allows air to flow over the top causing the floors to become cold in winter and warm in summer.