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Question DetailsAsked on 2/26/2016

Could improperly installed insulation such as covering acctic vents cause ceiling cracks

We bought a house that is over 50 years old 5 years ago We installed insulation 4 years ago now many rooms have ceiling cracks along the dry wall lines. There is also peeling paint in a couple of the rooms. Do I have a ventation problem?

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1 Answer


Possibly, if it trapped moist air that was passing through cracks or penetrations into the attic, or if the insulation job blocked attic ventilation. It is also possible, if an attic has low ventilation in the first place, for added insulation to convert it from basically a "warm" attic and roof (from the leaking air from the house) to a "cold roof" situation - meaning in the winter the attic now gets colder but there is still moist air coming from the house into the attic, so you can get condensation and/or frosting on the roof sheathing and framing, or sometimes even in the insulation. This moisture can, in serious cases, be enough to at least locally saturate the insulation and wet the drywall, causing cracking, peeling paint, and staining.

In addition, if a foil radiant barrier was put in right over the insulation, they tend to be pretty effective airflow and vapor barriers (as is blown-in cellulose insulation and faced batting) so they can trap moist air that used to get through the old insulation and exit into the attic and out from there.

Generally, adding insulation in an attic is a bad idea unless you first seal all the penetrations into the attic and provide (if not already there) a vapor barrier at the top surface of the drywall to keep warm moist house air (and cold A/C air in the summer) out of the attic.

I would get up there if you can, or if not get a Home Inspector or Insulation Contractor (though he has something to gain by saying you have a bad problem) to inspect for condensation or frosting, damp insulation, staining on framing or drywall, etc which could be indicative of either a general moisture issue or maybe a local roof leak getting down into the insualtion. They should also check that there is good ventilation from the eaves to the ridge vent (assuming this is a peaked roof) - that the insulation did not block off the eaves, or come so close to the sheathing (within 2-4 inches typically) that it is blocking airflow.

One other possibility is that the attic was previously pretty high moisture, and the insuolation job cut that off without causing any problems - but the attic framing is drying out and shrinking, causing cracks in the drywall - though the peeling paint leads me to believe that you have a moisture issue, and if paint is peeling but there is no mold growth at the top edges of exterior walls, that leads me to moisture above being the problem.

You can find a lot of prior questions with answers on the issues of attic ventilation and insulation issues in the Home > Roofing and especially in the Home > Insulation link in Browse Projects, at lower left.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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