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    • gjn
    • By gjn 27th Jan 18, 10:17 PM
    • 6Posts
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    gjn
    Cold ground floor: plan of attack
    • #1
    • 27th Jan 18, 10:17 PM
    Cold ground floor: plan of attack 27th Jan 18 at 10:17 PM
    Hi,

    I'm trying to get my head around the temperature in the ground floor rooms of my house. I know there are many threads on this subject, and I've read some of them, but I reckon the specific answer is dependent on the individual house so I'll post a bit about mine:

    4 bedroom mid-terrace over three stories, with two storey offshoot at rear. Front of house is south-facing. Built around 1900. Solid brick walls. Wooden-framed windows, but all double-glazed. Gas central heating via new combi boiler, managed by a MiGo phone app system with thermometer located in the main front bedroom.

    Ground floor
    Living room at front with large bay window, carpetted floor above cellar, operational (although unused) chimney, door to entrance hall, two external walls.
    Dining room at rear with north-facing window, wooden floor (restored(?) boards which do not tightly fit together - I don't know what's underneath that), old sealed-off chimney, one and a half external walls, door to entrance hall and open plan entrance to kitchen.
    Kitchen in offshoot at rear with window, lino floor (don't know what's underneath), external wooden door and open plan entrance to dining room.
    Entrance hall has wooden floor as per dining room, external wooden door to side of house (entrance via shared alley), door to cellar head and stairs to first floor.

    First floor
    Bedroom at front
    Bedroom at rear
    Hallway, with door to stairs to attic
    Bathroom in offshoot at rear with extractor fan

    Attic
    Bedroom at front
    Bedroom at back with skylight window
    Insulation in the (limited) remaining roof space

    Cellar
    The cellar is unfinished, so is cold and slightly open to the elements from a front and side opening. Although free from water penetration, it is more humid than the rest of the house.

    I generally keep the heating on 18C most of the time at the moment as there's a small baby in the house. This provides a comfortable temperature on the upper two floors, but never on the ground floor. In fact, you can turn in up to, say, 21C and it will still feel cold downstairs (but obviously be boiling upstairs). I haven't measured the temperature difference between the floors.

    Draughts are a big issue. It's enough to open and close doors! I tested tonight with a tea light. It's coming in at the top of the back door - enough to blow out the candle. It blows under the dining room door into the hallway. There is also a strong draught outside the cellar door, which is directly opposite the dining room door, and through gaps in floorboards. I can't tell the direction - it's rather turbulent. In the lounge, there's a strong smooth flow up the chimney. There are no noticeable draughts upstairs.

    So the question is: do I need to tackle the draughts, or are other heat loss methods more or equally important? Which draught is the primary cause and what do I do to stop it?

    I'm happy to make changes to get this fixed. It's my first year in the house and I plan to stay for a long time. I would consider doing something like also developing the cellar - tanking or otherwise. Having a ground floor that is comfortable is important, as at the moment it puts us off from using the main living spaces.

    Thanks for any ideas,
    Gareth
Page 1
    • glasgowdan
    • By glasgowdan 27th Jan 18, 10:58 PM
    • 2,881 Posts
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    glasgowdan
    • #2
    • 27th Jan 18, 10:58 PM
    • #2
    • 27th Jan 18, 10:58 PM
    Turn down the radiator valves on the first and second floors?
    • gjn
    • By gjn 28th Jan 18, 8:28 AM
    • 6 Posts
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    gjn
    • #3
    • 28th Jan 18, 8:28 AM
    • #3
    • 28th Jan 18, 8:28 AM
    Turn down the radiator valves on the first and second floors?
    Originally posted by glasgowdan
    Maybe I can balance the temperatures by doing this, but this would only make the floors equally cold at the moment! I think this will be a good step after I've solved the ground floor issue.
    • Clairabella
    • By Clairabella 28th Jan 18, 9:50 AM
    • 208 Posts
    • 73 Thanks
    Clairabella
    • #4
    • 28th Jan 18, 9:50 AM
    • #4
    • 28th Jan 18, 9:50 AM
    You've already identified where the draughts are coming from. You can rectify the worse offenders cheaply enough. Draught excluder around the door frames and at the bottom of the cellar and dining room doors. I used to push scrunched up newspaper up our open chimney to 'bung it', it allowed a trickle of air through so not totally sealed off. I'm not sure how you would rectify the draughts through the floorboards. I'd carpet it but you may not want to do that.. Others will have different suggestions.
    18C is not very high for your central heating setting. We have ours set at 22C though I do like the house toastie warm. You could turn up the thermostat and lower the upper room thermostatic valves. The thermostat will call for heat which should then go into the lower rooms once the upper ones reach temperature.
    • trailingspouse
    • By trailingspouse 28th Jan 18, 10:17 AM
    • 2,680 Posts
    • 4,342 Thanks
    trailingspouse
    • #5
    • 28th Jan 18, 10:17 AM
    • #5
    • 28th Jan 18, 10:17 AM
    This sounds very similar to my house!

    We have a cellar which is below ground level at the front of the house but above ground level at the back (we're on a slope) - we use it as a garage/workshop space.

    Our house was very cold when I first moved in - and even now you can tell immediately if someone's left the door to the cellar open.

    You're effectively trying to heat the cellar as well as the ground floor - and as there's no actual heating down there, you're going to fail!! You need to stop the cold coming up - sort out the gaps in the floorboards, then I would either put down carpet and underlay as well, or you could use solid wood flooring which I believe comes with a sort of underlay too. And check the state of the ceiling of the cellar - and fix it if needed (we had ours boarded out with plasterboard, as it was asbestos when we first moved in, but that's a whole other story!!)

    You also need to stop the cold air getting in to the cellar through the 'front and side openings' - can these be blocked off? Are they needed for access? I would just brick them up if that's possible (although you mustn't block up air bricks).

    Other things that worked for us - a dehumidifier in the cellar, draught excluder on the door to the cellar from the ground floor, heavy curtains on the large bay window.

    It's all about keeping the cold out and keeping the heat in.
    • missile
    • By missile 28th Jan 18, 10:21 AM
    • 9,443 Posts
    • 4,698 Thanks
    missile
    • #6
    • 28th Jan 18, 10:21 AM
    • #6
    • 28th Jan 18, 10:21 AM
    I prefer my bedroom cooler than lounge. Move the thermostat to ground floor. 18 is OK for bedroom but far too cold for living accommodation.
    "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
    Ride hard or stay home
    • gjn
    • By gjn 7th Feb 18, 8:53 AM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    gjn
    • #7
    • 7th Feb 18, 8:53 AM
    • #7
    • 7th Feb 18, 8:53 AM
    Thanks. I've got to work on the draughts. Back door has been treated with draught-excluding rubber tape, which has worked pretty well. Front door has had the same, but this has been less effective due to pre-existing warping. This is most severe at the bottom - by around 10mm. I'm going to get a brush for the bottom of the door. I've already put one on the cellar door, which works pretty well. I haven't done anything in the cellar itself as I'm not certain which holes I can block. Someone has suggested insulating the cellar roof with polystyrene or similar, but I'm not sure how significant this heat flow is at the moment. The next worst draught is from the chimney, so I've ordered a balloon to block it off and hope that will help in the lounge as well as disrupting the whole air flow through the lower rooms.

    After the draughts have been brought under control, I can look at heat flows through things and consider what needs to be insulated.

    I will certainly consider raising the target temperature, but if it's not something that can realistically be reached then the heating will just be on all the time.
    • gjn
    • By gjn 7th Feb 18, 8:59 AM
    • 6 Posts
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    gjn
    • #8
    • 7th Feb 18, 8:59 AM
    • #8
    • 7th Feb 18, 8:59 AM
    You're effectively trying to heat the cellar as well as the ground floor - and as there's no actual heating down there, you're going to fail!! You need to stop the cold coming up
    Originally posted by trailingspouse
    This is a good point, and gives us a decision to make. Do we put effort in trying to maintain the separation of the cold cellar and the warm house, or as we have aspirations to get the cellar done, do we do that and bring the cellar into the house heating system?

    I'm not 100% sure where the draughts that come through the wooden floor originate from. Is it the cellar or is it a mid-floor air brick or something like that?
    Last edited by gjn; 07-02-2018 at 9:04 AM.
    • trailingspouse
    • By trailingspouse 7th Feb 18, 10:13 AM
    • 2,680 Posts
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    trailingspouse
    • #9
    • 7th Feb 18, 10:13 AM
    • #9
    • 7th Feb 18, 10:13 AM
    My money would be on the draughts coming from the cellar itself. Certainly that's going to be the main source of coldness.

    We've sort of come to terms with the fact that a few draughts are the price we have to pay to live in an old rambling house with tons of character!!

    As well as the central heating, we have heaters in the cellar that OH puts on when he's 'playing' (his words, not mine) down there, and we have a fan heater in the attic (used as an office) for when we're working up there. We have a coal-effect gas fire in the living room, but that only goes on in the evening unless it's extremely cold outside. And I don't expect to be able to walk around in a T-shirt at this time of year!!

    Whether you include the cellar in the heating system depends on what you ultimately want to do with it. Ours is pretty big, and divided into basically 3 spaces -

    There's a large space (big enough for two cars end-to-end) which we use as workshop/man cave/garage/storage space. It has a garage door and of course as soon as that's open all the heat whooshes out, so there would be no point in us putting any sort of radiator down there.

    But there is also a laundry room, and I regret not putting a radiator or at least kick plate heaters in there when we were doing our major works. It's a bit chilly round the feet when you're ironing!!

    And finally there's a large space and corridor at the bottom of the cellar steps (it would be the landing if it was at the top, if you see what I mean) - I lovingly call this the boot room, but it's basically where the cats live - and I think they wouldn't mind if we put a radiator down there!!
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 7th Feb 18, 4:50 PM
    • 1,538 Posts
    • 2,289 Thanks
    FreeBear
    How big is the cellar - Does it extend under the full width of the living/dining rooms ?

    If so, get down there and install plenty of insulation between the joists - I'd go for fiberglass and hold it in place by stapling a mesh underneath to support it. You could use Celotex/Kingspan boards, but this would push the cost up.
    Decent underlay will also help to cut down on draughts..

    Insulating the floor on the ground floor will go some way in killing the draughts. Once the worst of them have been stopped, keeping the place warm becomes easier.

    If the fireplace in the lounge is unused, you have the option of blocking it off or installing a stove.

    I'm in a similar position of having an old, draughty house that isn't easy to heat. I don't have a cellar or enough space to crawl under the floor and lifting the floorboards is not practical. My solution is to fit wood fibre laminate underlay boards wall to wall. Then a good quality underlay on top and finish off with a carpet. Have also splashed out on a multifuel stove in the lounge, and can keep the room a toasty 20-24C most of the day. The heat percolates upstairs via the chimney breast and through the door, which helps warm the other rooms.

    Also going round each room and taking down the ceilings - A very messy job !... It gives me the opportunity to fill the space with fibreglass insulation and plug the draughts at source. Where I have solid brick walls (on the upper floor), subject to available funds, I'll be insulating the walls internally with Celotex boards.
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