Does Attic Insulation Go Bad?

If your home was built decades ago, it may not be as energy-efficient as you would like it to be. One of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home is by insulating your attic, but if your attic is already insulated you might be wondering “does attic insulation go bad?” You might have also heard that the insulation in your home can last decades or longer. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors argues that most common types of insulation, such as loose-fill fiberglass or batt insulation can last over 100 years.

Given that, you might just consider never thinking about your insulation installation again. However, you might want to think again. That figure is the life-expectancy of common insulation under ideal conditions. In the real world, the life expectancy of your insulation can be far shorter. 

Understanding the mechanisms that cause attic insulation to go bad can help you avoid costly repairs. If you are in an older home, you should definitely consider having your attic insulation installation inspected. Catching damaged or wet insulation early will ensure that your home continues operating at peak efficiency.

What Causes Insulation to Go Bad?

The most common type of insulation is made from fiberglass, so you might be wondering what could make a seemingly resilient material go bad. While fiberglass may seem impervious to most substances, care needs to be taken to protect the insulation in your home.

The biggest culprit threatening the insulation in your home is moisture. Moisture can come from any number of sources. One of the most common sources is a leak in your roof or walls. Moisture damage can also occur if there is a gap in your insulation. As warm air moving through the gap encounters cold air it causes condensation to form, which in turn leads to the formation of mold growth. 

Moisture and mold damage are definitely a major threat to your insulation, but they aren’t the only ones. Rodents and pests are attracted to an insulated attic because it makes great nesting materials. Not only will the act of them building their nest physically damage the insulation, but the accumulation of their urine and feces in the nest will dampen the insulation and affect your air quality. Not only will this lessen the effectiveness of your insulation, but it will also serve as a contamination risk. It’s best to rodent-proof your attic and crawl space and prevent any opportunities for attic access to outside critters.

Other sources of damage to insulation include puncturing or cutting, or exposure to excessive UV radiation and air leaks. Dust, dirt, and debris can also impact the effectiveness of your insulation. Your insulation may become compressed over time and less effective at preventing the transfer of heat.

Should You Replace Bad or Old Insulation?

A common question people have is whether it really matters that their insulation is damaged or old. The answer is a forceful yes, the state of your insulation can have an enormous impact on the energy efficiency of your home. If your insulation has been damaged from water or rodents it should absolutely be replaced. 

If left unaddressed, your HVAC system will have to work harder to keep your home cool during warmer months and warm during colder months, which is a costly waste of energy. Your home will also have more dramatic shifts in temperature, rather than remaining a more consistent temperature throughout the day. 

If your insulation is on the older side but otherwise in good condition, it might still be a good idea to replace it. Newer insulations have a higher R-value, meaning they may function as a more effective thermal barrier. It is also very important that when adding insulation, it is correctly installed and provides adequate coverage. Over time, insulation can be disturbed or moved for any number of reasons, which will reduce the effectiveness of your insulation and cause your home to become less energy efficient.

Final Thoughts

If you aren’t sure whether you need to have your insulation replaced, consider scheduling an inspection with Attic Construction. Inspections are the most effective way to tell whether your insulation is damaged. The type of damage to your insulation can also highlight other issues that you don’t want to leave unaddressed, such as a leaky roof, air leakage, or a rodent infestation.

If there is a larger issue that caused your insulation to become damaged it will have to be fixed before you replace your insulation. Catching any issues early can help you avoid more costly repairs down the line.

Inspections aren’t simply about finding bigger issues. Properly installing insulation can help reduce utility costs and keep your home a stable temperature, yet insulation often isn’t properly installed or is inadequate. Both issues can be costly over a long period of time. A simple inspection can let you know if your insulation has been improperly installed or is inadequate. Covering gaps in insulation or installing an adequate amount can have a big impact on the efficiency and energy savings of your home.

To schedule an inspection of your insulation or to learn more about how insulation can go bad, please contact Attic Construction. With decades of experience with insulation, our professional staff can quickly identify any problems with your current insulation and provide guidance on how to address those problems in your living space. To learn more, contact Attic Construction today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/25-things-you-need-to-know-about-insulation/
  2. https://www.nachi.org/life-expectancy.htm
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/publications/books/housing/cha13.htm
  4. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/long-fiberglass-insulation-last-93486.html

 

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