Here's one for all you fixer uppers!

This is lengthy, so be forwarned. I have an addition on my house(I've only been here 3 yrs) I found out that the addition was put on in 1983. From what we can tell, it is on some kind of poured cement walls, like you'd find in a basement, but we don't know how far down they went or if they are on footers.. They bumped out half of the back wall(the family room wall and the kitchen wall)they added on a room apprx. 14' x 24', a vaulted ceiling and a corner fireplace...the problem is, they left no access to the underneath...this room is freezing...we know that the only insulation underneath was a single roll of paper backed yellow batting(insulation) that at one time was stapled to the undersides of the beams, that has since fallen to the ground, that is only about 12" below(not enough room to crawl around under there even if we had a way in)we need to get this room better insulated and some heat to it. There is one heat vent on the outside wall, and the tube runs underneath the floor, above the ground, so by the time the air gets to the vent, it's already cold...thats a span of 14', no wonder its cold. We were thinking about ripping up the carpet and flooring to expose the beams and add some kind of a vapor barrier(which we know, there isn't any)and use furring strips to hold up some insulation close to the floor along with putting in radiant heat flooring. Any other ideas on how to make this room livable? or any advice on what we're thinking about doing?
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Gntry wrote:

What is the construction type of the walls? 3" with no cladding? If so most of your heat will be going through the walls. Insulating the floor will help, but maybe not as much as you hope.
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Gntry wrote:

Wonder why they didn't just pour the floor. But if there are wood beams, I'd be careful about adding vapor barrier, as you dont want the wood to rot. Is there circulation between the crawl space and the outside, or the inside? You're probably losing a lot of heat through the ceiling, is there any insulation up there?
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Gntry wrote:

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Try drilling a plug in the floor and injecting cellouse in the opening. I do not sugesst you doing this yourself, I would reccomend a reputable insulating company Best Regards Anthony
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Depending on how floor is constructed, it may be less work to add an outside access hatch, and manually dig out the crawlspace to a usable height. Neither solution is attractive. There are companies that advertise that they dig out crawls into partial or full basements. Dig an access trench, punch through a short section of foundation, and start carrying buckets and barrows of dirt. As long as you don't undermine existing foundation, house won't fall down. For people that actually go for a usable basement, you end up with a double foundation wall, with a ledge inbetween, connecting the inner and outer rings of concrete. To just get a usable crawl would be a lot less work than that. One man-height trench up the middle, and just keep raking the dirt down into the wheelbarrow. You do have to re-engineer any interior piers as you go, of course, but that shouldn't be a big deal.
aem sends...
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Gntry wrote:

Can you insulate the floor - yes.
Will insulating the floor change the temperature much in the room - I doubt it.
Insulating the floor won't change the performance of your central heating (which you say is blowing cold air).
You haven't described the ceiling, but that's the first place to look for heat loss. The walls are probably next. Not much heat gets out of the floor. Insulating the floor will help keep heat in - but you won't notice the difference if most of the heat is going through the ceiling.
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whew, your questions and description sure did lead to a wide variety of responses. People suggesting digging up your crawl space, etc. Digging up your crawl space will in no way make your room more livable.
First - how is the cooling in the summer? If cooling is fine then I would consider abandoning the 14' run from your old furnace for heating. It was certainly an afterthought anyway. If you have insulation that's fallen get a kid who can squeeze into the space to staple it back into place. That's not your problem anyway.
So, how to we get cost effective and comfortable heat into this room. First, I would look at the fireplace. Is this a woodburner? If not, I would consider converting to gas. Many gas units can be hooked up and retrofitted for general heating purposes. This room would then have its own thermostat. If you didn't want to mess with your fireplace then I would consider adding either radiant floor or hot water baseboard heat. Both are very comfortable. The baseboard would be a bit more efficient but also somewhat unsightly. The underfloor radiant is not seen. Both will require a boiler of some type. Your installer will suggest one. Your installer will also have a recommendation for which choice is best in your situation.
As others have suggested, insulation is important too but is worthless if you have no heat to actually contain. I do agree though that the floor is the least likely place for heat loss.
-B
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