The Home Energy Detective's owner, Troy Tanner was recently featured as one of the pros in the November 2011 issue of Holmes Magazine's "Ask the Pro."
We had the vaulted ceiling in our master bedroom converted to a lower, tray ceiling to make the room warmer in winter. Our contractor left the original ceiling intact. Should we be worried about too much heat getting trapped in between the new ceiling and the old one?
Christina Ortiz, Broadlands, Virginia
The best-case scenario would've been for your contractor to start with a clean slate, but that doesn't necessarily mean you need to worry. There's something called "the building envelope," referring to the point where te inside and outside of your house meet. This originally was your vaulted ceiling.
If you builder properly sealed and insulated above the tray ceiling and had a qualified electrician bring the wiring down (without creating hidden junction boxes), then the old vaulted ceiling is now outside that building envelope. In this case, heat shouldn't be getting trapped in the cavity. However, if the contractor just framed and drywalled the ceiling without insulating it, you will have issues with temperature and humidity control.
It all depends on whether the insulation, vapor barrier and air sealing were done properly. If this is the case, then the temperature and humidity should be fine. If not, corrective work will need to be done. At this point, I would suggest getting an HVAC professional to assess the situation.
Troy D. Tanner
The Home Energy Detective