Charlie Glahe WIN Broomfield

Adding insulation to the attic: Part I


Make one of your New Year's resolutions saving money. Energy Star indicated adding insulation to your attic as one of the best ways to cut down hefty costs. Evaluate whether your home could use an upgrade this year and consider an insulation project. 

Signs you should insulate 
Drafty rooms, ice dams and costly energy bills serve as major indicators that your current insulation may need an upgrade. While cold rooms and expensive payments are inconvenient, ice dams possess the potential to cause a great deal of costly damages. This Old House defined ice dams as the thick buildup of ice on roofs. Ice dams can also melt, producing water that may destroy your interior and create the perfect environment for mold and mildew. If ice dams have affected your home, mold inspections may help you determine if damage has occurred and to what extent.

One of the simplest ways to determine if you should add insulation requires you to only take a peek upstairs. When looking at your attic, if the joists, or wooden beams along the floor of this space, are visible, install more insulation.

Another factor to consider before tackling this project is the R value, or the insulation's ability to lower heat flow. Different R values are best suited for various regions. If you live in an area with a cooler climate, your R value should be higher. Energy Star provides R value recommendations for specific regions in the U.S.  Know what type of insulation provides the best energy efficiency for your home. 

If you have difficulty evaluating your home's energy efficiency, The Federal Trade Commission suggested hiring a home inspection company to look at your heating system and insulation to determine if you are losing too much energy. Having an inspection can also help you prevent an unsafe situation. These professionals are capable of identifying any dangerous materials, such as asbestos, in the attic.

Precautionary steps and safety tips 
If you decide to move forward and add insulation to your attic, remember to keep your safety in mind. Energy Star suggested purchasing safety materials before embarking on this task. Head to your local hardware store and buy gloves, a dust mask, a hard hat, knee pads, safety goggles, a flashlight and boards to walk across if necessary. Provide these items for any helpers who might also assist with this project. 

When performing this task, keep as much of your body covered as possible. Insulation may irritate your delicate skin. Also, make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the duration of the project. It is easy to become entranced and hyper-focused on adding insulation, and your needs might be unintentionally dismissed. 

Walk across only the boards that you have laid across joists or the joists themselves. If you walk directly on the ceiling, you could fall through. 

When crawling, use knee pads and watch out for nails that may stick out through the joists. Additionally, nails may poke through the roof and into the attic. A hard hat can protect your head from this hazard. 

Types of insulation 
There are two major types of insulation that can be done yourself. Remember, if another type of insulation might better your home's energy efficiency or you do not feel confident installing insulation, hire a professional contractor. If insulation is not properly installed, it may not execute its job. 

The Department of Energy described blanket and loose-fill as two common types of insulation. Blanket insulation can come in batts and rolls. Both are precut, but rolls are precut only in width. A roll's length can be customized. Loose-fill insulation can be poured or blown, using specialized equipment, into spaces that may be hard to reach.