A Guide to Attic Insulation Installation

Although it is rarely thought of and seldom seen, the insulation in your attic is incredibly important. If your attic insulation is properly installed and in good shape, your home will be more energy-efficient. You’ll also rest assured that you don’t have contaminated insulation that can affect the health of your home.

Unfortunately, many homeowners overlook their attic insulation and fail to include it in regular maintenance efforts. In order to keep your home as energy-efficient as possible, it is important to have your attic cleaned and maintained on a regular basis, and your insulation removed and replaced when needed.

The process of attic insulation installation is complex and poses dangers for the unwary or inexperienced homeowner. This article will outline the main steps that attic insulation professionals like Attic Construction take when they are installing new insulation. We’ll explore some of the top signs that you need new insulation, and break down the process from identifying a problem to installing an effective solution. These steps will reinforce the importance of working with an experienced professional to remedy any problems with your attic insulation.

Signs You Need New Insulation

If you haven’t had your attic cleaned out and inspected recently, it’s time to address that oversight. Though you may not go into your attic very often, the insulation in your attic provides an important thermal barrier to the transfer of heat. Whether you have fiberglass insulation, foam insulation, or another type, ensuring that you have an adequate level of insulation and that the insulation is in good condition is something that should be done on a regular basis.

From the outset, understand that the easiest and most effective way to understand whether you need to install new attic insulation is to schedule an inspection with Attic Construction. However, if you haven’t scheduled an inspection and are curious about key signs that you may need new insulation, here are a few:

 

  • Scratching Sounds or Bad Smells – If you’ve heard scratching in your ceiling or walls, chances are that you have rodents in your attic. If those rodents are nesting in your insulation or belongings you’ve stored up there, you will almost certainly need to schedule an inspection to determine the next steps to prevent them from having attic access.
  • Rising Energy Costs – If you’ve noticed your energy costs going up, it may be that your insulation is no longer working optimally. There are a variety of reasons for this, including moisture damage from a leaky roof, a rodent infestation, or it may simply just be old and need to be updated. Regardless, if your utility costs are rising and you aren’t sure why, it may be time to schedule an attic inspection.

 

Although it may be tempting to try to determine whether you have an adequate level of insulation and whether it is in good condition, you are probably better off leaving it to the experts. Insulating your attic is more complicated than it might seem, and it usually isn’t possible to simply glance at your insulation and determine whether it is adequate or sufficient. The required level of insulation will depend on the type of insulation used, what material it is made from, and many other factors that may influence the final level of insulation used. 

Attic Insulation Process

If you find that you need new insulation services, you might be wondering how to install insulation in attic space.Starting with a broad overview, the attic will need to be cleaned up and any old insulation will need to be removed. Any existing gaps that allow air leaks to pass from the conditioned part of the house to the unconditioned part will need to be filled. If a rodent infestation occurred, the attic may need to be decontaminated and rodent-proofed. Once any existing damage has been repaired the new insulation can be installed.

Now that you have a good sense of the contours of the insulation installation process, let’s break each step down in a bit more detail.

Prepping, Cleaning and Insulation Removal

The first step in the installation process is to prepare the attic for new insulation. To do this, any old insulation must be removed along with any debris that is present. The first step in this is to ensure that any contaminants that are in the attic aren’t spread to the rest of the house during the removal process. Most often this means that the surfaces in the rooms around the attic entry are covered with thick plastic sheeting. Once that is done, any items currently being stored in the attic can be safely removed from the attic and temporarily stored elsewhere.

With the attic cleared of any obstructions, it’s time to clean up the old insulation. This is done with powerful specialized vacuums for blown-in insulation, or by rolling up batting insulation and placing it into specialized bags for contaminated material. Any rodent infestation will also be cleaned up at this time, and if there are signs that rodents were present it’s a good idea to have the space decontaminated.

Insulation Installation

Once the old insulation has been removed and the attic has been cleaned, it’s time to install the new insulation. The type of insulation that is installed and how much of it you need will vary. The professional guiding you through the process will outline their recommendations, and what the advantages and disadvantages of each option are.

There are two different main types of insulation: batt or roll insulation and loose-fill insulation. These have different installation methods but follow the same general principle. The idea is to install a sufficient level of insulation to not only meet the legal requirements for the State of California but also to ensure that the insulation will effectively reduce the transfer of heat from the conditioned areas of the house to the unconditioned areas of the house.

Batt or roll insulation are precut rolls of insulation that are installed between the joists of the attic. You’ve probably seen this type of insulation before and may have even worked with it during a home improvement project. Installation with this type of insulation may seem straightforward, but it can be tricky to achieve sufficient coverage given the physical characteristics of this type of insulation.

Loose-fill insulation is also known as blown-in insulation because it is installed using a specialized blower system. Using a long tube the insulation is literally blown into the spaces in the attic until a sufficient level of coverage has been installed. Blown-in insulation is great for achieving adequate coverage in hard-to-reach spaces without leaving any gaps. 

Advantages of Professional Insulation Installation

If you’re the type of person to tackle a home improvement project on your own, you may want to reconsider when it comes to installing your own insulation. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider having a professional like Attic Construction remove and replace your current insulation.

Safety

Safety is an important concern when it comes to removing old insulation and installing new insulation. Working in attics is difficult. They are tight spaces with precarious footing, and high off the ground. A careless step or a lapse in concentration can result in a disastrous fall.

Falling isn’t the only danger associated with attic insulation installation. Before you install new insulation you’ll have to remove the old insulation. That means dealing with insulation that is old, dusty, and potentially contaminated with rodent urine and feces. 

Due to these risks, our staff uses personal protective equipment that minimizes their exposure to contaminants contained in or from the old insulation. All old insulation is removed in thick, sealed bags and disposed of properly to ensure that contaminants aren’t spread. Our top tip for attic insulation installation is to work with professionals to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading dangerous contaminants. 

Better Efficiency

One of the most important reasons to replace your insulation is to improve the energy efficiency of your home. As a primary barrier to the transfer of heat, the insulation in your attic or roof deck helps keep your home cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter. 

With properly installed attic insulation, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard to keep your home the temperature you want it to be. This not only means that you’ll be more comfortable, but that your energy costs will be lower. 

In order for you to reap all of the benefits associated with new insulation, it needs to be installed correctly. Attic insulation professionals ensure that you’re using the right type of insulation for your needs, the correct amount to ensure optimal energy efficiency, and that you have adequate coverage of your attic space.

Closing Thoughts

Installing attic insulation requires first preparing the surfaces around the attic entry to ensure that any contaminants in the attic aren’t spread throughout the home. Next, any stored belongings or debris in the attic are removed and stored in a safe location that is out of the way. Old insulation is removed and the attic space is cleaned out. If a rodent infestation has occurred it’s a good idea to decontaminate and rodent-proof the space before installing any new insulation.

Once the old insulation has been removed and the attic is cleaned, the installation of the new insulation can begin. Typically this is done either by placing batt or roll insulation in between the ceiling joists or by using a blower to blow loose-fill insulation in between the joists. The goal is to achieve a sufficient level of coverage to create a radiant barrier against the transfer of heat.

If you aren’t sure whether you need new insulation or an attic clean out, please schedule an inspection with Attic Construction. Our staff has years of experience working with attic spaces and can tell you whether your insulation needs an overhaul. By addressing any deficiencies before the next hot or cold season, you’ll lower your energy costs and improve the health and value of your home.

Sources:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/01/17/what-you-need-to-know-before-insulating-your-attic/
  2. https://insulationinstitute.org/im-a-homeowner/installation/diy-insulation-vs-hiring-a-pro/
  3. https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/attic_insulation_project

 

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