Does it seem like your home doesn’t stay as warm or as cool as you feel it should be? During the winter, on a particularly cool evening, leave a thermometer in the attic for a few hours. When you collect it, compare the temperature to the outside temperature and the inside temperature of your home. If the attic’s temperature is 10°F greater than that outside, or is closer to your home’s temperature than the outside temp, your attic may not be properly insulated.
What can be done to properly insulate the attic? When installing insulation, don’t let it block airflow to the vents. If your roof is slanted enough to access the eaves, installing a slanted-board baffle at each joist end to keep the insulation clear of the vents. Patching holes from nails or screws, and filling in the gaps for pipes will also help greatly. Recessed lighting fixtures can cause an issue for insulation. They require at least a three inch gap between the fixture and insulation to prevent a fire. Installing flush-mounted lighting is a good way around this issue. Your attic hatch shouldn’t go ignored, either. That door or cover needs to be insulated as well, being that it is the largest portal to your attic.
Avoid over-insulating your attic as well. For every dollar you save in annual energy costs for the first four to six inches of insulation, you will only save another ten cents for the second four to six inch layer. When packing insulation into tight spaces, press lightly on the material to pack it. If the space between joists is too narrow for a blanket of insulation, cut the blanket to the exact size needed, rather than stuffing it in. If the material is compressed too much, it isn’t as effective at insulating.
If you hear animals scurrying about in your attic or walls, evict those critters and assess your insulation. They may have carved out a sizeable chunk to make their home. These openings in the insulation can cause large amounts of heat loss, so get them patched as soon as possible. Another home invader that is detrimental to insulation is water. Water that seeps into your attic can soak the insulation, making it completely useless. Not to mention the growth of mold and mildew and water damage can be hazardous and costly.
When installing insulation, be cautious and don’t over exert yourself. Working in an attic can be very hot and uncomfortable. It is best to work on cool, cloudy days or at night, if possible. Be sure to protect your eyes and lungs from the irritants in insulation, and wear gloves while handling the material. Take breaks as often as needed and take a hot shower with a cold rinse after you are finished. This will help remove any fibers from your pores and skin.
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