Add attic insulation to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient.


Add attic insulation to make your home more comfortable and energy-efficient.

It certainly has gotten cold here. As I write this, it is 17 degrees outside and the high for tomorrow is in the 30s. This sudden change in weather has certainly hit me hard. I hope you are staying warm. Speaking of staying warm, is your house comfortable? Do you have enough insulation, the right kind, in the right place?

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Over the years I have been in a LOT of attics and most of them do not have the right kind of insulation and certainly not enough insulation. Even worse, there is often duct work running in the space on the wrong side of the insulation, the cold side, with very little insulation around the ducts. Code says you need R-38 insulation in the attic as a minimum. I would say that is about half what you should have for your attic in our climate if you are using fiberglass insulation or cellulose. Think of it as adding a second blanket to your entire house.

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In areas where duct work penetrates the conditioned space at the supply points, there is no insulation. Having the duct work inside the thermal envelope would fix this problem. So if you have the chance, insulation on the underside of the roof sheathing, open cell spray foam, is certainly a better solution than fiberglass or cellulose on the floor of the attic (when duct work is in the space). Spray foam is air tight and when installed in the appropriate will both make your home comfortable and energy-efficient.

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Other holes that exist in the insulation envelope can be can lights and eave ventilation that does not have baffles. These holes and air leaks from improper sealing of the thermal envelope all combine to diminish the effectiveness of your installed insulation. Finding ways to stop air leakage and installing the proper amount of insulation will help on these cold days.

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If you have fiberglass insulation, add more to achieve R-72. If you have cellulose, add more to achieve R-72. However, if you want to get it right insulate with an air tight solution, open cell spray foam is the easiest, to create a home that will be comfortable and energy-efficient for many years.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. J. Scott Hudson says:

    I would be concerned about weight and cracking of drywall with this amount of loose fill in the attic. There is very little benefit of additional R value without stopping the air. Flash coating the ceiling with closed cell (r-4 to r-7) topped with an r30+ is a better solution although more costly.

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  2. I have never seen drywall crack under the weight of loose fill insulation. I added it in a spec house built on a VERY tight budget and had no structural issues. I would be very surprised for even the most budget focused builders to have this issue.

    Flash and batt is a terrible solution. There is a strong chance that using that approach will lead to reaching dew point in your insulation.

    Closed cell is an interesting discussion that I am still having with several people. It is a vapor barrier – which you do not want in our climate. In an attic especially there are several reasons I don’t like closed cell foam. Open cell on the other hand is a solid solution, not flash coating, but fill install.

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