Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Retro-fitting flat roof insulation

Ideally a flat roof should be a 'warm roof', i.e. using good insulation and a vapour barrier so that heat is kept in and moisture can not reach any cold spots to condense and cause problems. But what do you do if you can't or won't spend the money refitting an entire flat roof? This was our situation - the roof was only refitted a bit over five years ago, so has plenty of life in it yet. When it's time to renew it, we'll get the insulation done properly at that point. Until then, we needed to come up with another solution...

The sections of flat roof we have are above our dormer windows, and as such they link into the small loft that is higher than them. Above the windows they are not airtight at all, which is useful as it lets air flow through the roof space and loft, preventing any condensation forming. However, a few months ago I finally got round to investigating what was in the roof space, and I found this:

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Yes, that's right - plasterboard, over 100mm gap, then the roof deck. So all that fresh air blowing through was chilling the plasterboard and therefore the bedrooms below. I knew it wouldn't be great, but I'd not realised there'd be no insulation in there at all! A further complication is that the access from the loft is obstructed by joists. You can just see the edge of one under the floorboard here:
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The only thing to do was find something flexible that I could get in through the gap. It would never be perfect, but anything would be better than nothing! The other thing that was needed was to ensure that there was still a gap for air to flow after the insulation was installed.

A quick trip to B&Q gave me some materials to experiment with. I found something a bit like tough bubblewrap coated with aluminium. This actually has an insulation value equal to about 50mm of polystyrene, so is quite useful.
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This could easily be cut into strips and fed into the gaps:
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After a bit of work, it was lying down in the gap between the joists, though not lying completely flat:
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The next step was to feed in a 25mm polystyrene board on top of this. Polystyrene isn't as good an insulator as some of the fancier insulation boards (eco-therm, cellotex), but the important thing for me was that it's flexible:
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I used one of my chimney sweeping rods to put some weight on it while pushing it to the end of the roof:
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Once I had enough board in, it was all lying pretty flat:
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I came up with some improvements during the process, such as taping the end of the foil layer to make a ridge for the polystyrene board to push against:
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For the sections that had easier access, I actually taped the first board onto the foil layer:
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This also made it easier to pull it all back a tiny bit to ensure an air gap at the far end.

Before buying materials to do the whole roof, I did a couple of sections and then tested the results. I don't have access to a fancy thermal imaging camera, but a friend lent me this very handy Thermal Leak Detector, made by Black & Decker. Basically, you point it at a spot and it gives you a temperature readout. You can also set it to a reference temperature, for which it projects a green light at the spot it is measuring, and then the light changes to red or blue to show if the temperature has gone up or down. Anyway, here's the readouts with the room temperature at about 19C and the outdoors at about 2C, first with insulation and then without:
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Quite a difference! So I quickly went on and insulated the rest of the flat roof, and the temperature was a couple of centigrade higher than normal the next morning, with similar weather and the same use of our woodburner.

If you want to see a bit more about the Thermal Leak Detector, here's a short video of it in action:

Mike

Related posts:

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Monday, 6 February 2012

Snow scenes from the woods

Yesterday I posted pictures of snow in Rye, and now here's some from the woods. I'm just going to post a selection of the ones I took, you can view the full set on Flickr (higher resolution there too).

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It was pretty chilly, but we were wrapped up warm, and took along some food for the birds...
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We didn't stop to sit round the camp fire...
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But we did get the same photo we've taken in the past, with snow on the Sweep Wood sign:
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There were a few trees that had managed to catch enough snow to bend or fall, like this Birch and Hazel:
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The wayleave had something of a blockage too...
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Sadly our Alder Buckthorn had also fallen over:
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So we grabbed a bow saw and did some emergency coppicing so it could go back into the ground. Hopefully it'll recover...

I'll finish of with some of my favourites from the pics I took:
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Mike

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow in Rye, Feb 2012

Ever since we moved to Rye in summer 2007, it's snowed every winter. The weather has not let us down this winter either...

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This time the snow has stuck to everything it can - check out these telephone wires sagging...
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and these trees and shrubs too:
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The river Tillingham was frozen over:
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and I just about got a picture of this Bullfinch there:
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Then on to Deadmans Lane, which always looks good in the snow. This time though, the stickiness of the snow means that two branches from evergreens were down in the road:
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The broadleaf trees are fine, as with no leaves they can't collect much snow:
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And finally Rye Hill, which is passable if you know how to drive in snow. But of course, not everyone does!

Mike

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Friday, 27 January 2012

Seal in Rye Harbour

Look what I saw in Rye Harbour today! A beautiful sea heading up in to Rye. Video coming soon.




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Saturday, 21 January 2012

SAS, SBS.... and SRS?

So, you've heard of the SAS (Special Air Service), and you've heard of the SBS (Special Boat Service). But have you heard of the SRS? They were in Rye last night...

SAS, SBS and... SRS?
Shame the trains weren't running, as this meant they had to come on the rail replacement bus instead...

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Frosty morning in the woods

Last weekend I went to the woods early on a morning, and found that for the first time this winter it was actually properly frosty there, with the ground rock hard! Although I was there to do a job, here's a few photos...

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Another couple of photos that might be of interest are from the bottom of the hill in Sweep Wood. Here's one from a year ago, just after we finished coppicing - note how bare the ground is:
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Here's the same place a couple of weeks ago:
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And this is in January, with green leaves still showing after last summer's growth! I think it's going to look great this summer....

And finally, another sunrise timelapse, taken yesterday morning. I still want to do a couple more over the winter, as I'm in the process of figuring out the best camera settings to account for the huge change in light levels through the sequence.

Mike

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