Cold rooms, warm hearts

cold.eskimocold.eskimocold.eskimoI love seeing my family at Thanksgiving, but I hate my niece’s guest room. “Why is that room so cold?” asked my niece, Allison.

She had the heating contractors out and they said nothing is wrong. She bought a super-duper heavy quilt for that bed, because it’s the guest room. Looking ahead, God willing, that will be somebody else’s room in a couple of years. She can’t put a baby in there. So she has to get a better solution.

I had a feeling that this room was going to be a problem when we stayed there when it was about forty degrees out. That room was cold compared to the rest of the house. I remembered checking the heating duct to make sure it was on (it was.) Then, I thought about the layout of the house and knew exactly what the problem was.

This room is over the two-car garage. It is a FROG (Finished Room Over Garage).

cold.thermometerAli’s condo has the worst combination of conditions for a FROG. The garage is on the north side of the house; it only shares its back wall with the house. So, the garage and the guest room above it stick out, exposed on three sides.

The garage gets very cold. There is not enough insulation on the ceiling of the garage to keep that cold from getting into the room. In addition, the room is at the far end of the hall, in the weakest place for the forced hot air heating system.




What to do about a FROG (Finished Room Over Garage.)

  1. First thing, check that the heating is working properly. If it is working, check for an easy way to increase the heat to the room over the garage. With forced hot air or forced hot water, it can be tricky. With steam, it can be done easily with adjustable valves on each radiator.
  2. Insulate the ceiling of the garage. I recommend blown-in insulation. It can also help to have rugs on the floor of the FROG.
  3. If both of these corrections are not enough, additional heating may be needed.
  4. It may be possible to increase the amount of heat to the FROG on a hot water or a hot air system by adding more baseboard registers or another air duct. Depending on the layout of the system, this may not be cost effective.
  5. Alternate heating that is not part of the central system is the next option. An additional electric heating unit would work. This can also serve as an air conditioning unit, if the house does not have central air.
  6. One of my clients installed a heater in the garage because he used the garage frequently and liked having his car not so cold. (This is the least energy efficient option.) He kept his garage at about fifty degrees and it stopped the draftiness in his FROG. If you do this, you should also insulate the garage walls and door as much as possible.

Takeaway for buyers:

If you are shopping in cooler months, pay attention to temperature changes within the house. If you take your shoes off, you can feel it in the flooring. Common cold spots include FROGs, finished porches that serve as family rooms, additions that have no foundations, and areas near bay windows.

If you are shopping in the summer, look for FROGs and rooms or parts of rooms that have no foundation. These will tend to be colder. Check for insulation under the floors in spaces like that.

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