Check Your Attic Insulation Before Winter!
November 25, 2015
To say that an attic must be insulated properly is an understatement. And to think that the attic insulation is only about creating indoor comfort is equally understated. Truth is, attic insulation should be preventing heat loss from inside the home and keeping indoor temperatures controlled (whether it's summer or winter). Yes - indoor comfort will be enhanced, but more importantly, energy efficiency will be greatly improved, and that means saving money on utilities. As winter approaches, many homeowners reflect back on last winter, and the "ice damming" that they witnessed. This is a common problem, sometimes with bad outcomes, and usually has little to do with the roof or the eaves trough. It's simply an attic insulation problem. And while having clean troughs is absolutely a must, "ice damming" is usually a result of heat loss, which is a result of poor attic insulation. Snow melting and re-freezing is the cause of "ice damming". Roof snow melts because heat is dissipating upwards through the attic. Because of the outside cold temperature, the melted snow then re-refreezes and causes the damming. Simply put, heat shouldn't be dissipating from the attic, and proper attic insulation will ensure that this does not happen. In short, the attic cavity must be sealed off - and it's done with an effective vapor barrier and with a quality attic insulation product that completely seals the attic space. For the professionals, attic insulation is about creating a "system". The vapor barrier will prevent moisture from collecting. The attic insulation will prevent air movement and air leakage. And proper attic ventilation will assure balanced air circulation. Everything works together - stopping unwanted heat loss; allowing attic insulation to do its job; and averting the formation of ice and damming. But it all has to be done properly, and without taking any shortcuts. The first step with attic insulation is to check the of the attic - and this should be done well before the winter. A typical homeowner can certainly do a cursory overview - but a professional knows what to look for, and where to spot the challenges. Attic insulation requires expertise - there may be a need to replace deteriorating insulation; it may be possible to "top up" existing insulation; or for that matter, there may be a need to do repairs before any insulation work. It's also possible to get into a DIY project with attic insulation - but the professionals really have an advantage here. Good insulation contractors have product knowledge, installation expertise, and project experience that allows for good recommendations for the homeowner. This would be particularly true when creating an attic "system" that incorporates the vapor barrier, the attic insulation, and the ventilation into a well-functioning building envelope. Today, many contractors are recommending spray foam insulation for the attic. It's ideal for an expansive space like the attic, and it's totally multi-purpose, providing more benefits with one application than any other product on the market. Spray foam completely seals the entirety of the space; it serves a combination air and vapor barrier; and it provides better R-Value than anything comparable. When it comes to attic insulation, nothing comes close.