Insulating the ceiling - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Insulating the ceiling

For once I am not sure where this would go.

The problem in my fish house is during cold weather the moisture collects on the ceiling drywall. It is insulated in the attic portion but still it gets wet on the ceiling. Condensation.
So I wonder. Can I just screw 1/2" or 1" thick styrofoam to the ceiling from below and insulate it that way? Not really caring about the look.

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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 06:03 PM
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Hi GraphicGr8s,

Condensation on drywall can lead to black mold, a serious health issue. I would suggest a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air as a better alternative and maybe increase air circulation in the room with a fan. A second alternative would be a vent fan to the outdoors but then all the heat goes out the vent as well.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 06:22 PM
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Bonus of using a dehumidifier is that you get free distilled water. I wouldn't screw Styrofoam to your ceiling though, that stuff is highly flammable.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 06:46 PM
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Hi All,

Dehumidifier water is not the same as distilled water; it contains a lot of particulates from the air such as pollen, dust, mold spores, bacteria, and hair and is not recommended for drinking or aquariums.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 07:12 PM
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+1 I would use a dehumidifier or something to remove moisture


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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 07:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seattle_Aquarist View Post
Hi All,

Dehumidifier water is not the same as distilled water; it contains a lot of particulates from the air such as pollen, dust, mold spores, bacteria, and hair and is not recommended for drinking or aquariums.
You can get dehumidifiers that have a HEPA prefilter. There are plenty of other uses for humidifier water as well, such as watering plants.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 08:20 PM
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You keep a lot of tanks in that fish house right? Typically I'd say start simple and get a fan just to move some air around. But depending on the size of the space, the height of the ceiling, etc this might not be all too easy. I'd start with a normal oscillating fan (or multiple depending on the size of the room) pointed towards the ceiling just to see if that changes anything. If it does, perhaps installing a ceiling fan(s) might be worth looking into. A dehumidifier will certainly help; but again the size of the room, volume of water in there, etc might make a standard de-humidifier almost pointless. Might be worth looking into a heat recovery ventilator or an air to air heat exchanger. I think the cliff's notes is they essentially can pull all the air out of a room, dry it out, and return that same air/heat back into the space. Since you say the attic is already insulated I dont know if you need more insulation in the form of styro of if you might just need a good plastic vapor barrier. Of course the styro couldn't hurt; but I'd glue it up rather than screw it.

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-02-2018, 10:05 PM
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A heat recovery ventilator exchanges inside air for outside air. It uses a heat exchanger to condition the outside air with the inside air. Some of them will do some humidity removal.

You stated the ceiling is insulated, but is it insulated properly? If it's done with batting, probably not. Is there a decent vapor barrier in place? Your drywall temp is being cooled and the relative humidity in the room is probably quite high.(The actual humidity is probably also high but to avoid confusion when people are talking humidity they typically mean relative humidity) Ventilation fans might help. Raising the temperature of the room might help. (temp up with the amount of moisture in the air the same lowers the RH). Getting the ceiling properly insulated so it's not being cooled by attic air will probably also help. You can get into a lot of complex building science when you're dealing with RH and ventilation. It's also important that the attic is properly ventilated.

This problem can lead to a lot of issues and it's something you should be making a priority to get fixed.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 12:09 AM
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Assuming that you have already done the thought on topside insulation, I move to what you are already thinking. But rather than screw straight to the drywall, I might go one step further. Since it is the airspace which does the insulation, one way to improve the R value of foam is to add an airspace between the drywall and the foam. Thinking furring strips on the drywall and then add the foam to leave a 3/4" airspace between. But since foam by itself will tend to sag down. I might also go with a grid or strips under to help support the foam. In a fishroom, I don't worry the fire hazard very much. Air circulation is nice but thinking you will have gone past that idea already.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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This fish room was my print shop originally and when I shut that down it stayed as a collection spot for junk. Now it houses anywhere from 30 to up to 100 tanks. So yes. A lot of water. I had the ac fan running pointed up to the ceiling and it did dry put most of it. I am running a 1500 water oil filled space heater and have a box fan behind it to get some circulation. Last night I had it up to 78 in there. I've left those two fans running and added a third last night. We shall see.

As for dehumidifiers. Can't afford that right yet. Wife was in the hospital so those bills are coming and she was out of work for two weeks unpaid with a detached retina. Money is tight right now.

Rich, you're right. Not real worried about the insulation catching fire. If that goes than the problem was there before it ever ignited

As for mold. There is some on the surface.

It is bat insulation. I was also considering having spray foam installed. That would solve all the issues. Wonder how much that is though.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 02:15 PM
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Spray can be great but expensive as well as it requires a fully open (no tanks!) space!
Any chance of blowing in more insulation on topside? I found the folks here in Central Texas are not too aware of the advantage of insulation as they think of it as being only for keeping cold out and not as a way to keep the heat from the attic out of working it's way down into the living space.
In this area, we were able to blow in a ton of loose insulation on top and it has paid for itself in less energy use. Electrical rates in Texas are not regulated so it is a full time nightmare to stay up on the changing rates as they offer low upfront and then when the year is up the rates double as they assume you will not change providers! But with my wife doing the accounting and shopping for best rates and me doing the insulation, we have the electrical bill down from an average $100 per month to $54. That makes the insulation pay off really fast.
I was also surprised at how cheap the labor was on having somebody else do the blowing on it. I did have to go back and correct some of the places where they covered venting but overall, I'm pleased with adding more.
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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If I am having it sprayed into the attic area why no tanks? Odor?

We have the highest electric rates in the southeast with Duke Energy. Summer bill is close to $300. Current bill is $159. Lowest is about $125.

Fish house only has a few HOBs and a Pondmaster AP100 running along with a bunch of shop lights. AC is set to 82 all the time.

Fortunately this is only a problem for a couple of weeks generally here in Florida. I am also looking into just adding more insulation but first I have to finish the soffits etc. Never did get around to that.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 02:34 PM
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Regarding a dehumidifier, I tried using water from my basement dehumidifier only to learn (the hard way) that it contained high levels of ammonia. I don't know why but research indicated that it is fairly common so beware!

I'm not sure more insulation will help since the condensation clearly indicates that there is a high moisture level in the air. Are the tanks covered to reduce evaporation?
More air circulation and/or a dehumidifier is perhaps is a more likely answer.

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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbeysDad View Post
Regarding a dehumidifier, I tried using water from my basement dehumidifier only to learn (the hard way) that it contained high levels of ammonia. I don't know why but research indicated that it is fairly common so beware!

I'm not sure more insulation will help since the condensation clearly indicates that there is a high moisture level in the air. Are the tanks covered to reduce evaporation?
More air circulation and/or a dehumidifier is perhaps is a more likely answer.
Condensation indicate that the surface is cold enough to condense the water vapor. Insulating the ceiling should keep the drywall warm enough to prevent that. I was just looking for a stop gap measure. Ideas from the think tank here. We've got a lot of knowledgeable folks here, you included, so why not pick your brains and leave it out there for anyone else that may have the same problem. Heck maybe eventually someone that does insulation will chime in.

I've been to one of the farms here and they did in fact use the styrofoam on the walls and ceiling in the hatchery.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
Once you get rid of integrity the rest is a piece of cake.
Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
If you agreed with me we'd both be right.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 03:26 PM
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Florida? Usually the variance between the hot and cold temps should be pretty substantial for condensation to form. However, you have an extremely humid room in a pretty humid state.

A dehumidifier would absolutely solve this, but they do suck up a fairly large amount of power. The other option in my mind would be a fairly strong bathroom fan installed and vented to the exterior of the house. A fan blowing the humid air around in such a moist environment is pretty much useless.\

190 cfm panasonic bathroom fan might fit the bill. A six inch inline blower is a less expensive option if you have a crawl space above. If you pair this setup with a humidistat fan control it will keep the humidity at a constant level automatically and the electricity used should be minimal.

https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-IPHS5-1LW-Humidity-Sensor-Control/dp/B00H3QQD64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514997517&sr=8-1&keywords=lutron+humidity+sensor+switch

How large is the room approximately?

Last edited by PlantStudent; 01-03-2018 at 03:43 PM. Reason: cuz
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