How to Assess Attic Insulation Yourself, Part II
Last week, we discussed a quick and easy method to test for heat loss in your home. Hopefully your attic passed the test and your home continues to stay comfy and cozy this winter. If not, though, it’s time to take a look at the state of your insulation.
Here are a few common problems to look for when trying to discern the source of your heat loss:
- Holes and Gaps in the Attic Floor
Look for open space near pipes, ducts and wires coming through the attic floor. These spaces should be filled using unfaced fiberglass batts or caulking material.
- Insulation Compressed or Stuffed into Tight Areas
Air pockets trapped within insulation are what resist the passage of heat, so jamming more insulation into a small space won’t make anything warmer. In fact, it won’t do anything at all. When it comes to batt or roll insulation, it should be cut to size and fit snugly between joists. It should not be shoved into a space to make it fit.
In the case of loose-fill insulation made from cellulose or recycled newspaper, it may have settled over time and lost much of its effectiveness. Look to be sure loose-fill insulation is fluffy as opposed to compact. Also, if using your attic for storage, be sure that no heavy boxes are sitting on and compressing your insulation.
- Gaps and Puckers in Batt/Blanket Insulation
Properly installed batts of insulation should lie flat and leave no room for airflow. If your blankets look buckled, or if there’s space around the edges or at the point where two sections should connect, heat will escape.
- Uninsulated Attic Hatch
Look to see whether the hatch or door into your attic is insulated. It should be covered with rigid foam board or fiberglass batting cut to size and glued in place. If left uncovered, the hatch will act as a vacuum, sucking warm air up into the attic.
Please take care when climbing into your attic! We suggest wearing a headlamp so both your hands are free, and always make sure your footing is secure.
If you spot a few small problems, it’s possible they could be do-it-yourself fixes. If your insulation has more extensive trouble, however, it’s probably easier and more efficient to schedule a professional assessment and installation. Metro Construction provides free insulation inspections and estimates for every job. Be sure to shop around and obtain multiple bids when looking for a contractor—that will get you the best price for the best work.
How to Assess Attic Insulation Yourself, Part I
There’s a quick and easy method for assessing whether heat is escaping into your attic, and the time to check is now. This test should be done while the weather is cold for clearly discernible results.
All you need for this test is a thermometer and some time. Simply climb up to your attic on a particularly cold day—you might even do this at night, when the temperature drops—and leave your thermometer there for an hour or more. When you retrieve it, compare the temperature reading to the temperature outside as well as to your thermostat’s reading for inside.
If your attic is more than 10° warmer than outside, or if it registers closer to the indoor temperature than to outdoor temperature, your insulation isn’t doing its job.
There are a number of reasons why your insulation could be inadequate. It might be old or out-of-date material, such as cellulose insulation, which settles over time and loses much of its insulating power. Your insulation may also be poorly installed, leaving gaps or bare spots for heat to escape through.
Since heat rises, the attic is the first place it will go. ENERGY STAR estimates the attic accounts for nearly 45% of all energy lost in any given home. Thus, installing proper attic insulation is the easiest, most effective way to save on energy bills and make your home that much greener.
In Part II of this blog, we’ll give you a comprehensive guide on what to look for when assessing your attic insulation and how to tell whether or not it’s properly installed. Check back soon!
A Look Back at the Year
The holiday season is in full swing here at Metro Construction. As the year draws to a close, we would like to take a look back at these past 12 months. We’re proud to say 2012 was a very successful year full of jobs well-done and many satisfied customers. Here are a few Metro statistics to stuff your stockings with:
- More than 2,000 insulation installation jobs completed. That’s the gift of warmth equivalent to roughly 175,000 Hanukkah candles.
- Saved the planet of 4,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
- That’s close to $400,000 in direct energy bill savings for our customers.
- Installed enough AttiCAT insulation to fill 6 Olympic size pools, 4500 of Santa’s sleighs, or 7500 boxes of matzo.
- More than 4,000 roof installations.
- The equivalent of 148 football fields of roofing safe enough for Santa’s boots.
- More than 1,800 Owens Corning Platinum Preferred warranties granted since they became available two years ago. That’s 90,000 years of warranties!
- 98% customer satisfaction percentage.
That’s pretty incredible. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday, from our family to yours. Come see us in the New Year!
Attic Insulation and Mold Prevention
When it comes to the benefits of insulation, we hear plenty about energy efficiency, saving on costs, and keeping homes more comfortable in both the winter and summer. But we rarely hear anything about mold prevention.
You may be surprised to find that installing proper levels of insulation now, before the weather really turns cold, can prevent costly and dangerous mold infestations later in the spring and summer.
Think about a glass of cold water. When does that glass sweat? On a hot summer day, right? That’s because the warm outside air hits the cold surface of the glass and the difference in temperature causes moisture from the warmer air to condense. Hence, a sweaty glass.
Something similar happens to your attic in the winter if insulation is insufficient. As soon as you turn the heat on, that warm air floats through your ceiling into the attic. There, it encounters the inside of your roof, a much cooler surface because of its contact with outside air. Now your roof serves as the cold glass of water and moisture from the warm attic air condenses and collects on the inside.
Mold requires four factors in order to survive and thrive: food in the form of organic material, oxygen, temperatures between 40-100ᵒ F, and moisture. Winter temperatures will most likely prevent mold from developing, but come spring and summer you’ll lose that safeguard. Then, thanks to the extra condensation in your attic, mold spores are likely to have a heyday.
The effects of mold can range anywhere from aggravated allergy symptoms to serious respiratory infections. Since a food source, oxygen, and temperatures above 40ᵒ are likely to always be present, managing moisture is the only effective strategy in preventing mold and its associated health risks. Augmenting attic insulation will stop heat from passing into your attic and prevent the kind of winter condensation that causes mold growth.
Consider having your attic insulation evaluated before it’s too late and too cold. An insulation installation job is quicker, easier, and far cheaper than undergoing the process of mold removal next summer. We say, save yourself the time and money now. Metro Construction will give you a free estimate of installation costs. Visit our website at www.mymetroconstruction.com/insulation to schedule an evaluation today.
Is Your Home Ready for Winter?
With Thanksgiving past and the cold weather months fast approaching, we’re starting to see some of Colorado and the Front Range’s notorious weather swings. Here in Denver, highs are ranging from 25 degrees one day to 60 degrees the next. While the sun is still shining now, it’s easy to tell winter is close at hand. That means it’s time to start assessing whether your home is well-equipped for the coming weather.
According to EnergyStar.com, retrofitting your home with additional insulation is often the quickest, easiest and most cost-efficient way to increase energy efficiency. Boosting the R-Value of your attic insulation alone can save up to 20-30% on heating and cooling costs. Insulation is measured by its R-Value, or its level of thermal resistance. The higher the R-Value, the more effective the insulation. A properly insulated home will prevent heat from leaking in or out through walls, crawlspaces and attics. That means in the winter, cold stays out while heat stays in; and in the summer, heat stays out while cold stays in.
The cost benefits for your energy bill are immediately apparent. Put simply enough, insulation helps keep heating and cooling systems from working overtime. The environmental benefits have also been long touted. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) has an excellent rundown of a study by Harvard University’s School of Public Health detailing the environmental and public health effects of proper insulation levels.
Here are a few of the highlights:
- Bringing existing homes up to code could save more than 800 trillion BTUs annually, which would drastically reduce emissions of gases such as nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide.
- Improved health could prevent 240 premature deaths per year.
- Properly insulated new homes would save 300 billion BTUs per year—that’s equal to 28 supertankers of crude oil and 300 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
The statistics are pretty incredible. You can find the full article at www.NAIMA.org.