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Do you ever feel like you’re on a roller coaster at home? First you’re hot, then you’re cold, then you’re really freezing. Is your home so drafty that even when you’ve got the heat blasting, you have to wear a sweater?
If you suspect that your attic insulation needs to be replaced, this article’s for you. We’ll give you the lowdown on your insulation choices and help you get started with finding a local contractor.
In This Post:
Is It Time to Replace Your Attic Insulation?
If you’re worried about attic insulation cost, you shouldn’t. The average insulation project costs about $2,000, depending on the size of your attic.
You should know that there are also federal tax incentives that will cover part of the cost. They typically don’t cover labor but will cover part of the cost of materials.
So how can you tell if your insulation needs to be replaced? There are a few common problems that should be red flags to all homeowners.
The first red flag is hearing rodents or larger mammals in your walls or ceiling. Your insulation may have cracked, allowing animals into your home. The culprit could also be a broken shingle or leak in your roof.
The same holds true for insect infestations. Your insulation or roofing could be providing them with the chance to tunnel and nest.
Other signs of damaged insulation include indoor drafts, trouble heating or cooling, and mold or excessive moisture in any part of your home.
Types of Attic Insulation
Once you’ve committed to replacing your attic insulation, how do you know what type of insulation to buy? Before you invest in any insulation material, you have to consider the R-value that you need to end up with.
The R-value is an easy way to measure the effectiveness of your insulation. If you’re aiming for an R-value of 30 and you’re using fiberglass, you’ll need to install a 10-inch thick layer.
People who live in colder climates should insulate their attics to an R-value of 60. Here are a few popular insulation options.
No matter what kind of insulation you use, you may have to devote some time to pest removal before you can have new insulation applied.
After you’ve removed the rodents or insects, you should talk with a contractor about the best way to insulate attic walls. One option is loose-fill fiberglass, which has an R-value of about 2.5 per inch.
If you install loose-fill fiberglass, you’ll need to use a special machine. Some contractors steer their clients away from this material because it’s made up of 40% recycled glass and can irritate skin and infiltrate lungs.
Another concern is that the fiberglass could be less effective in sub-zero temperatures.
Wondering how to insulate an attic that’s prone to insect or rodent infestation? Cellulose insulation could be a good choice. It is made of shredded, recycled paper that has boric acid added as a pest-deterrent.
If you want to install cellulose insulation yourself, you’ll need to rent a blower. It’s impossible to spread by hand, and you’ll need the blower to get complete coverage.
Cellulose has an R-value of 3.5 per inch, but the ideal depth of application will vary according to climate zone.
One issue with cellulose insulation is that moisture can creep in, causing it to lose its R-value over the course of several years. If you live in a warm, wet area, you may want to skip the cellulose insulation.
Perhaps the best insulation for attic or unfinished garage is spray foam. It has an R-value of 6.5 per inch and should be applied by a professional.
The great thing about spray foam is that it gets into small openings and forms an airtight seal. Pest prevention depends upon sealing up access points, and spray foam can get into holes that are less than 1 cm wide.
If you’re going to have a professional apply spray foam to your attic, you should make sure that they have more than a few years of experience. In rare cases, spray foam can shrink, leaving you with more air pockets.
Experienced professionals, however, know how to mix the chemicals properly to avoid shrinkage.
How to Identify Asbestos in Your Attic
If you’re in the process of insulating an attic, you might stumble upon an odd-looking material. It might look like wool or it might look like small stones or pebbles.
While not all woolen insulation contains asbestos, you should avoid touching it or removing it. The same goes for the small pebbles, which could be vermiculite that contains asbestos.
Asbestos used to be widely used as an insulation material because it was inexpensive. Nowadays, however, we realize that the risks of asbestos exposure include permanent lung damage and cancer.
If you’re in doubt about your attic insulation, have a professional come and evaluate it. They’ll be able to tell you whether you have a problem and will also be able to remove any asbestos you have.
Finding Attic Insulation Pros
Whether you’re battling a pest infestation or just trying to save money on your heating bills, you might want to leave attic insulation projects to the pros.
They’re more experienced with the blower machines and can recommend the right type of insulation for your home. If you install insulation by yourself, you might accidentally damage your attic’s roof.
To find a good construction company, talk to your friends, family, and colleagues. Chances are good that you know someone who’s had a positive experience with a local company.
If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool DIYer, you might want to talk to a contractor anyway. They can give you pro tips and help you make sure you’re using the right materials.
Whether you’re replacing your roofing shingles or building a deck, we’ve got hacks and tips for you! Come check out our blogs and best of luck with your home improvement projects!