How can I solve a moisture problem in attic from 1941 home?

Rachel Katz Published: June 8, 2019, 4:06 p.m.Last updated: Dec. 1, 2019, 2:21 p.m.

I have a 1941 home that I am redoing a failed attic conversion in. I'm in climate zone 5, front range in Colorado, Boulder county. I am reading and gaining a better comprehension of the air barrier vs vapor barrier concepts. My house is above a dirt crawl space. And we have a very high water table at 18 inches!!! It is definately a part of my stacking and moisture problem so I will be installing a moisture barrier in the crawl space this summer. The failure in the attic involved me putting insulation into the rafter bays without an air channel. Plus inadequate soffit venting...almost none. We got intermittent condensation and some mold on the roof boards. I will remedy this with insulation removal and fogging concromium. We are getting a new roof in a month and it will have roof intake vents on the lower slopes and ridge vents on all ridges.

Most of the ceilings in my 1 storey house are (non asbestos) cellulose tiles. I made a few holes in the living room ceiling 10 years ago when the semi conditioned attic space was made. We screwed up thin board then and ignored how unaesthetic it looked for years. Now as part of  making a correct air barrier between our conditioned first floor and the attic above, we are having a nice drywall ceiling done in the living room and in the  4x 6 unsealed area that gives access to the attic. 

As I read about air barriers and diffusion of water vapor, I wonder if I am subject to a lot of water vapor movement through the cellulose tiles in the kitchen , dining room, hallway, and 1 bedroom ceiling.  Will a fresh coat of paint do very much to help? I am reluctant to use Kilz or something else that has a lot of odor that will linger for months and take semingly forever to dissipate. Should I be planning to budget for replacing all ceilings with drywall?

My house walls are concrete stucco over cinder block and I doubt there is any insulation between the lathe and plaster walls and the cinderblock.

We are comfortable in the winter and not too hot in the summer.

If I can engineer use of a small part of the attic for both storage and a human space, I would like to figure out how to do it and do it right so no moisture issues return.

Any comments about cellulose ceilings are welcome.



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