Last updated on February 11, 2020
Your attic does a lot more than storing your extra stuff.
For one, it is an essential part of your roof, which makes it a defensive barrier to all elements outside. Secondly, it protects your property and loved ones from the heat, humidity, and cold.
However, if you want the attic to do its job correctly, you should insulate it. An uninsulated attic can compromise your home’s safety, energy efficiency, and comfort. Uninsulated walls allow heat and moisture to move through building materials and result in heat gain in summer. As a result, you need more heating and cooling equipment to maintain temperature. Plus, cracks in the attic give way to bats, pests, and critters to make their home inside yours.
As per the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), almost 90% of American single-family homes are under-insulated.
Is Your Attic Insulated Enough?
There are some common problems associated with attic insulation. If you notice any one of these, you might need better insulation.
1. Odd Temperatures
Check if any room or a part of the ceiling seems warmer or colder than the others. When rooms have odd temperature changes, there is a high chance that the insulation in the area is poor and you need to upgrade it.
2. Drafty Rooms
If you feel cold or warm air coming inside your home, make sure that the attic is adequately insulated. Spray foam insulation seals and insulates are ideal for cracks around the attic. Air sealing is a technique that eliminates all holes, cracks, and gaps that allow air transfer inside and outside. As a result, you can maintain the desired temperature. Keep in mind that air sealing requires some degree of attic ventilation. A professional installer can help you with the attic ventilation system, too.
3. High Energy Bills
Higher energy bills are an easy way to identify insulation needs. If you pay huge bills every few weeks, it is a sign that your HVAC is working harder to compensate for the energy loss in your home. While smaller leaks may lead to marginal increase in bills, more substantial leaks may cost you hundreds of dollars in no time.
4. Water Leaks in the Attic
As poor insulation lets heat out of the home, it also lets water in. When you notice a leaky attic, the chances are that there’s a problem with the insulation. Water in the attic can damage wood beams, insulation, and your ceiling, too. Not to mention, mold and mildew thrive in damp conditions. Increasing air circulation and controlling water damage are critical steps to dry out your attic. If not attended in time, it can lead to costly problems like roof repair or internal damage in the future, so give leaks prompt attention.
Once you realize that there is a problem with the insulation in the attic, it’s time to take action. With the right insulation, you can enjoy the following benefits:
- Lower heating bills
- Improve the energy efficiency rating
- Reduce your carbon footprint
- Increase the home’s value
- Less HVAC wear and tear
- Better indoor air quality and comfort
- A safe home structure as insulation prevents gradual damage from heat and moisture
How Much Insulation Do You Need?
R-value is the measure of the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. A higher R-value translates into the better thermal performance of your insulation. On average, the ideal insulation is R-38 or 10-14 inches in the attic.
Adding the Right Type of Attic Insulation
The two common types of insulation include loose-fill and batt (battery insulation). You can add them to an uninsulated attic or can even layer it over existing material.
It comprises small clumps of recycled items like cellulose, mineral wool, or fiberglass. Professionals can install it using special equipment wherein they spray it on your attic floor and wall cavities. If you choose cellulose insulation, it might lose up to 20% of its R-value. That’s why it’s a good idea to install a little extra to offset the loss.
Works Best for:
- Attics that have non-standard joist spacing
- Attics with existing insulation that needs a top up as it can fill gaps and joints well
- Low-clearance attics that have less headroom for installation
- Lofts with many obstructions or penetrations
Batt and Roll Insulation
Blanket insulation is flexible and often comes packed in rolls of various thicknesses and some standard widths. The usual width is 16 inches and 24 inches to fit the joists or studs in your home’s framing.
This insulation comprises fiberglass, plastic fibers, or natural fibers like cotton. You can get the roll with or without a paper or foil facing that acts as a vapor barrier. For the right level of insulation, you can always add layers of the blanket. On average, roll insulation costs less compared to other insulation types.
Works Best for:
- Attics without an insulation
- Attics with a standard joist spacing
- Lofts that have ample headroom for smooth installation
- Homeowners looking for a cost-effective solution
With the right insulation in your attic, you can cut your energy bills by 30%. Not to mention, your family will love the extra heat and comfortable environment during winters. As insulation can last up to 40 years, your investment will ensure high returns, too!
AUTHOR: John Despeaux
John Despeaux is the owner of Guardian Roofing, a roofing Houston, TX company specializing in residential and commercial roof installation and repair. Guardian goes above and beyond and offers customers insurance support and a team of 80+ dedicated roofing Houston, TX experts.