4 Practical Attic Insulation Tips
Just like the top of your head, the top of a house can lose a lot of heat very quickly; especially if it’s not well insulated. With a house, this can lead to a great deal of wasted energy and soaring utility bills. Here we’ll discuss practical attic insulation tips that can help you keep your heat within your home and cut down on that costly utility bill.
Batten Down the Hatches
Before you start an insulation project, it’s important to ensure the attic is properly sealed. Start with common areas where the attic may have leaks:
- Attic hatch
- Around wiring and any holes in the walls that accommodate plumbing and pipes
- Dropped soffits that are open to the attic
- Recessed lights
- Flues, chimneys, or duct soffits
If there are small holes here and there in your attic, they are likely not the source of a large amount of leakage. But if you have large holes or drafts that are freely transferring heat, this is where you will find benefit in doing some maintenance. For those large areas, plug open cavities, cover dropped soffits with foil or other materials, and caulk open areas or drafts around attic windows. Aluminum flashing can be used to seal areas around pipes and flues.
Choose the Right R Value for Your Climate
Insulation comes in many different forms and is identified by its R value. This value describes the product’s resistance to heat flow: the higher the R value, the greater the resistance and therefore the greater the insulative properties. The R value of a product can be found listed on the label. Choosing the correct R value for your home depends on where you live, and the age of your home. You will need a higher R value for colder climates. If your home is over 10 years old, you’ll also likely need additional insulation and a higher R value. Here in San Diego we recommend and R value of R38 – R60 in your attic.
Choose Your Material
Attics are a fairly simple area to insulate, at least relative to the rest of the home. The type of insulation usually installed in an attic is either loose-fill or batt insulation. If price is a factor, loose-fill is typically less expensive and can provide better coverage. Loose-fill, or “Blown in” insulation is installed with a blower hose and machine that breaks up larger insulation pills into small bits and chunks of cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool. Batt insulation comes in big blanket-like rolls.
Mind Your Structural Integrity
If your attic does not have a floor, simply place new unfaced batt insulation opposite (perpendicular) to the existing insulation. Ensure you effectively cover joists with insulation. Be sure to install insulation behind knee walls as well. Approximately 12 inches of insulation is generally the appropriate thickness to insulate effectively.
If your attic does have a floor and you use the space for storage or another function, your insulation project will be a bit more complicated. This is because you’ll need to insulate under the floor, which means you need to remove it.
Note: be careful not to step anywhere that doesn’t have a solid structure meant to hold weight—you don’t want to step through the ceiling!
Insulating your attic is an important part of maintaining a manageable utility bill and keeping your home climate-controlled. Insufficient insulation will cause precious heat loss and quickly lower the home efficiency. It’s important to take a routine review of the attic and ensure that any new gaps are sealed; especially attic windows, hatches, and pipes that can be a large source of heat loss. Be sure to also take stock of the integrity of the attic’s insulation after any new home installations or remodels with pipes, ducts, or wiring that run through the attic. You can always call an expert like Bob Jenson A/C to inspect your attic and let you know how much or little insulation you need to improve your heating efficiency. Fortifying the insulation in your home’s attic helps keep the heat in—or out—throughout the year.
For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.
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