Replacing Attic Insulation 101

If you live in an older home or are experiencing some of the issues we’ll outline below, you may want to consider replacing your attic insulation. For homes with insufficient or damaged insulation, replacing attic insulation can restore energy efficiency and comfort.

Understanding the top signs that it’s time to replace your attic insulation, and what benefits new attic insulation can bring, is often helpful information for homeowners deciding whether this project is right for their home. From a house that is too drafty to energy bills that are steadily creeping higher, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for these top signs that attic insulation replacement may be needed.

#1. Rodents in Your Attic

Few things can be as destructive to an attic space as a rodent infestation. Rodents love attics because they’re protected from the elements making them warm and dry, sheltered from predators, and have lots of great nesting materials in the form of insulation or stored belongings.

If you suspect you have a rodent infestation in your attic, don’t wait to deal with it. The longer a rodent infestation is allowed to occur in an attic, the more pervasive and extensive the damage is. 

Signs of a rodent infestation in your attic include:

  • Odd smells coming from your attic space.
  • Scratching or scurrying sounds in your ceiling.
  • Pets paying close attention to your ceiling or walls.
  • Nesting materials in your attic (shredded cardboard, piled and disturbed insulation).
  • Rodent droppings in your attic.
  • Damaged insulation or belongings.

If you’re facing a rodent infestation in your attic, there are three basic steps to fixing it. These are:

  • Rodent proof your attic by sealing off any possible entrances. Be mindful that mice can enter a space as small as a dime.
  • Remediate any existing rodent damage. This includes removing contaminated insulation, disinfecting the attic space, and reinsulating.

If you do suspect you have a rodent infestation, you may want to leave it to the professionals to deal with. Great care must be taken when cleaning up after a rodent infestation, as rodent urine and feces can carry communicable diseases. This is also one of the primary reasons you want to address a rodent infestation when you suspect it, since rodents in your attic actually affect the air quality throughout your home. 

Approach a possible rodent infestation with caution, and be proactive if you find that you are dealing with one.

#2. Mold Growth

If you see mold growth on the insulation material in your attic or surrounding surfaces, such as the framing around the ceiling plane, you’ll definitely need to consider attic insulation removal and replacement.

Mold grows where moisture occurs. Without moisture, mold won’t grow. Mold growth on surfaces in your home is especially bad since it can impact the air quality throughout your home, as well as the durability of your home. 

The growth of mold in your attic is a sign of two things:

  • Your attic insulation needs to be replaced and any mold damage needs to be remediated.
  • The source of the moisture causing the mold needs to be tracked down and addressed.

Putting new insulation down won’t solve your moisture issues. After the old insulation is removed you may need to air seal your attic space. This helps with moisture issues because moisture in attic spaces often occurs in gaps between insulation. These small gaps allow moist, warm air from the conditioned spaces of your home to easily travel up through the air gap. As it moves upward and cools the moisture forms condensation, which builds up and over time will result in mold.

If you aren’t sure where the source of your moisture problems is, be sure to have your attic professionally inspected before putting down new insulation. Without addressing the root issue causing the moisture, you’ll just be back up in your attic dealing with more mold within a short period of time.

#3. Your Home is Old

If you have an old home and have never replaced your attic insulation, it may be time. Though most common types of attic insulation used today are rated for very long life spans, that’s assuming that it is kept in clean, dry conditions. Older homes also have older insulation types, which may not offer sufficient or adequate thermal resistance for your home’s needs.

If you do have an old home, it may be worthwhile to take a quick peek at what type of insulation you have in your attic. Visually inspecting your attic space can tell you a lot of things, such as how clean or dirty the space is, what physical condition your insulation is in, and even what type of insulation you have.

Pay very close attention to whether you have vermiculite insulation. Vermiculite insulation appears like small pebbles, usually grey-brown or silver-gold in color. If you do see vermiculite insulation placed in between the ceiling joists, do not disturb it. Leave your attic space and contact a professional to have your attic inspected for asbestos.

While asbestos isn’t in most insulations, vermiculite insulation made with vermiculite mined in Libby, Montana may contain asbestos and should be treated as such. If you suspect your attic insulation contains asbestos, don’t try to remove it yourself. Limit access to the area and have the potentially contaminated insulation professionally inspected by someone trained and certified for working with asbestos attic insulation.

#4. Your Insulation is Dusty or Dirty

You may not realize it, but the quality of the air in your attic can have a big impact on the air quality throughout your home. Over time, vented attic spaces can get covered with a layer of dust and debris blown in from the outside. That dust will settle onto everything, including your insulation. 

While dust may seem like a pesky nuisance around your home, the dust accumulated in your attic can actually contain contaminants. Specifically, attic dust has been shown to contain environmental contaminants that can date back to when your home was built. Environmental contaminants may include heavy metals, which can be harmful for your health if inhaled. 

Your attic insulation can capture and retain those contaminants, even if you’ve made an effort to clean the rest of your attic. For older homes with dusty or dirty insulation, it’s probably time to consider thoroughly cleaning your attic and replacing the existing insulation. To minimize the health risks of doing so, we recommend having your dirty attic insulation removed and your attic space cleaned by professionals like our team at Attic Construction.

#5. Leaky or Water Damaged Roof

Every homeowner knows that a leaky roof can cause big problems, and needs to be addressed. What you may not realize is that if you have a leaky roof, you’ll probably also need to change your attic insulation. This is because water penetrating your leaky roofing could affect the attic insulation underneath it.

Wet attic insulation is a poor insulator. While some types of insulation, such as fiberglass batt insulation, retain more of their insulative properties when wet than others like cellulose insulation, it’s only a matter of time before your wet insulation becomes moldy insulation. Wet insulation can also transfer moisture to the adjacent framing and building materials, potentially spreading mold growth and deteriorating the integrity of your framing materials.

As a best practice, if you find a leak in your roof have the attic insulation in that area professionally inspected. If the leak has been occurring for some time without being caught, you’ll most likely need to replace the attic insulation and remediate any water damage that occurred.

#6. Insulation Was Moved or Compromised

Sometimes, insulation can be moved or compromised when repairing it, and may not be put back into place. As a result, you may have areas that are not sufficiently insulated. If you notice that the temperature inside your home fluctuates more than it should, it can be an indicator that your insulation was shifted or compromised. As a result, your HVAC system will have to work harder to heat or cool your home, which can impact your energy bills. 

 If your insulation is moved and there is a gap in the insulation, this is another opportunity for mold. Warm air flows to the gaps in insulation and when air is moving in and out of the house, water will condense and feed the mold. 

The Benefits of Professional Attic Insulation

If you suspect your attic insulation may need to be replaced, you should strongly consider having your attic insulation installation done by our professional team at Attic Construction.

Here’s why:

  • Professionals will do a better job installing your new installation, maximizing the cost-savings and comfort it will provide. Professionals understand if there’s too much insulation in your attic, how much insulation you need, how to install it, and how to eliminate air leaks to ensure your attic stays clean, dry, and well-insulated.
  • Professionals have the equipment necessary to ensure they can do the job quickly and safely. Traversing attics can be difficult, and it isn’t a job for everyone. If you do attempt it yourself, be sure to use appropriate safety equipment and safe processes.
  • Professionals understand that contaminants in your attic can spread throughout your home when disturbed. That’s why we use industry-accepted best-practices to ensure old insulation is safely removed without spreading any contaminants to your household.

If you’re considering replacing your attic insulation, now’s the time to call our crew at Attic Construction! We’d love to help you return your attic space to a clean, dry, and well-insulated state. Aren’t sure whether your attic insulation needs to be replaced? Not a problem! Schedule a professional attic inspection so that one of our experienced staff can make targeted recommendations on proper insulation that will boost your home’s energy efficiency.

Replacing your attic insulation is one of the best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and comfort levels. At attic construction, we offer our services with professional attic cleaning in Orange County, San Diego, and more in southern California. We also provide attic services to the greater Phoenix, AZ area as well!

Sources:

  1. “DIY Insulation or Hire a Professional?” https://insulationinstitute.org/im-a-homeowner/installation/diy-insulation-vs-hiring-a-pro/
  2. “Attic Insulation Project” https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/attic_insulation_project
  3. “Mike Holmes Reveals the Two Crucial Things Your Attic Should Have” https://www.hgtv.ca/mike-holmes/blog/mike-holmes-attic-house-checklist-1913414/

 

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Great work! Our attic went from totally disgusting to pristine.  They are courteous and professional and clean up after themselves.

-Karen L. Santee, CA

Andrew was very informative and helpful during the whole process. Excellent communication and his team did a great job. He came on Sunday and the work was done and completed by Tuesday. Highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a fair prices and great service.

– Joey E. San Diego, CA