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Attic Insulation 101

Insulation. It’s what makes a house feel cozy. A well-insulated house shuts out even the most brutal South Dakota winter chill. If you’re considering improving your home’s coziness factor, reach out to SoDak Insulation for an inspection today.

You know that your attic needs insulation. But what is attic insulation? Let’s take a closer look at your house’s blanket.

The Language of Insulation

What is insulation? Insulation creates a barrier to keep heat in place. Just as a blanket on your bed keeps your body heat close to you, insulation in your attic keeps your house’s temperature warm in the living space of the home. Adding more blankets to your bed keeps your body warmer by containing more of your heat. Adding more insulation to your attic will help your home hold in heat as well.

Heat flowing from warmer spaces to colder spaces is called heat transfer. Insulation reduces heat transfer.

R-value is an abbreviation for resistance value. The term “R-value” describes how well a product contains heat. Insulation with an R-value of 5 will block more heat transfer than the same amount of insulation with an R-value of 2. 

Air sealing is one of the first steps when adding insulation. The installer will check your space for any drafts around windows, walls, or chimneys and seal any openings. Minimizing air movement will reduce heat transfer. It will also help to keep pests out.

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A vapor barrier keeps moisture and condensation on the warm side of insulation from moving to the cool side. In cold climates like South Dakota, the barrier should be between the living space and the attic insulation. 

Rafter vents are spacers that keep air flowing around the underside of the roof. They help keep your attic cooler in the summer. More importantly, they help prevent ice dams on your roof in the winter. 

Batts are single, solid pieces of insulation that are laid in place. Think of this like a long, skinny blanket roll. They are usually sold in rolls either 16 or 24 inches wide to fit perfectly between your rafters with no cutting. 

Loose-fill insulation consists of lots of small pieces that fill in gaps and irregular spaces. Installers apply this insulation by blowing it in with a machine. While it technically can be installed by hand, coverage is not as good, and the end result will be disappointing. 

Loose-fill is an excellent choice for filling in tight, hard to reach places. It’s an ideal choice for adding insulation to an existing structure. It can also be blown into walls through an access hole that can be patched after application.

How Does Attic Insulation Work?

Insulation works by holding air in place. Tiny pockets of air are held in place by the fluffy material. Because they aren’t mixing around, heat is not quickly jumping from one molecule to another, so it stays put longer. That’s why your big, puffy coat is so cozy in the winter. It’s also why the January wind on your face makes cold temps feel so much worse. All of that air rushing by moves more heat than you would lose otherwise.

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What Is Attic Insulation Made of?

Insulation can be made from lots of products. Here’s a rundown of the most common types.


Yes, it really is made of glass. Glass fibers are spun into a thick, fluffy material that looks a bit like cotton candy. Fiberglass is sometimes made of recycled glass, but not always, so check the label if that feature is a priority for you. Cover your skin thoroughly before manipulating fiberglass – any contact can irritate your skin. If you find yourself itching, taking a shower should take care of it.

Fiberglass has an R-value of 2.2 to 2.7 per inch if it’s blown in, and up to 4.3 in batts. It comes in different thicknesses, and you can layer one batt over another to reach your desired total R-value.


Cellulose is made of loose-fill, post-consumer recycled paper treated to be bug and fire retardant. Cellulose won’t irritate your skin. 

Cellulose has an R-value range of 3.2 – 3.8 per inch. This means that it doesn’t need to be as thick to achieve the total R-value you need. 

Cellulose is usually chemically treated to be waterproof. If it does get wet, water won’t absorb, but it may puddle and soak rafters. If you have prolonged moisture in your attic, mold could follow.

Mineral Wool

Mineral wool is made of rock fibers or slag from blast furnaces. It is sometimes called rock wool. 

Mineral wool comes in loose-fill or batts. Batts made from mineral wool are not very flexible and can be harder to work with. 

This material is naturally fire-resistant but more expensive than the others. It is partially made from post-consumer recycled material. Check the label for specifics. Mineral wool has an R-value of 3 to 3.3. 


Easily the most environmentally friendly option, cotton attic insulation is made from denim jeans. The manufacturer shreds industrial scrap and post-consumer denim to make batts that are as soft and skin-friendly as your own wardrobe. 

Cotton insulation is treated with a non-toxic solution to make it pest- and fire-resistant. With no chemical or respiratory contaminants, this is a health-conscious choice for anyone with chemical sensitivity. 

Cotton insulation will cost 15-20% more than fiberglass, on average. It has an R-value of 3.7-3.8 per inch.

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The More You Know

You can make your house a coziness fortress with the right insulation. Consider what kind of attic insulation is best suited to your needs and budget. If you have noticed your utility bills creeping higher and higher, or the temperature is getting harder and harder to control, you might need more attic insulation.

Contact SoDak insulation today to get a free inspection, and you’ll be as toasty as hot cocoa next winter.

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Can I Insulate My Own Attic?

When it comes to insulation, you might be tempted to add it to the DIY column. After all, you can buy insulation at any hardware store. You might even know someone who has done it.

However, just like any home improvement DIY, insulating your own attic takes knowledge and tools that you might not have.

Upgrading your insulation is a project that pays for itself and then some over time. Better insulation means lower utility bills every month. You might save money doing this project yourself, but you won’t know for sure unless you get a professional quote. 

If you want a professional to insulate your attic, reach out to SoDak Insulation for an inspection and quote today.

Can I Insulate My Own Attic?

First, consider whether you have any limitations that will prevent you from completing the job. If you have any medical conditions that require you to avoid excess heat or dust, you won’t be able to work safely. 

If you’re confident that you can do the work without hurting yourself, the next step is to take a good look in your attic.



Look at the layout of your attic. Are there shallow angles, multiple chimneys, or a complicated floor plan that will make it challenging to apply insulation across the entire space? Picture how you will access the edges of the attic floor.

Figure out what you’re starting with. Examine the existing insulation for any mold, water stains, or other defects and remove any bits that aren’t up to snuff.  

Some houses built before 1990 were insulated with a product called vermiculite. Vermiculite may have traces of asbestos in it. If you have loose, grainy-looking particles with shiny flecks, get the material tested. 

If you do have asbestos, you’ll need to hire a professional to remove it. Removing asbestos is never a DIY job. Once the old material is removed, you’ll have a clean slate for your new insulation. 

What Type of Insulation Should I Use?

You will need to choose the type of insulation that works best for your attic. 

Loose-fill is a DIY-friendly type of insulation. Think of this like the inside of a pillow. Loose-fill is an excellent choice for spaces with nonstandard spacing between the joists, a complicated layout, or tight spaces. 

When you insulate your attic with loose-fill, you will need to rent a machine to blow the material into all of the nooks and crannies. If you operate the tool effectively, this can be the fastest way to get the job done.

You can also spread around loose-fill insulation manually. That won’t give even coverage or as good of a result, though.

When you want to insulate your attic on your own, the type of insulation most commonly used is batt or blanket insulation. This type of insulation fits between the building joists of your house, which makes it easier to install.



The Department of Energy suggests South Dakota homes should have attic insulation with a total R-value of R49 – R60.  

Determine the R-value of the insulation already in your attic. Push a tape measure or ruler to the floor beneath the insulation, and measure the insulation’s height. Multiply the thickness in inches by 2.5 to get an estimate of the present total insulating value. This number is your current insulation’s R-value.  

Here’s an example: if your attic insulation is 10 inches deep before you improve it, you currently have R-25 insulation (10 x 2.5). You would need to add another R-24 to get to the minimum recommended R-49. Two layers of R-12 would give your finished project the recommended total R-value (25 + 12 + 12.)

Figure out how much insulation to buy. Multiply the length by the width of your space. The result is your square footage.  Consider whether you need more than one layer of batts and add to your total as needed.


You are ready to insulate your attic! Well, almost. There are a few more things you should do first:

  1. Seal air leaks. Check your attic for any air leaks. Insulate around window edges with a low-expansion foam explicitly made to insulate around windows. Check around any outlets, ducts, pipes, etc. for gaps. Fill ¼ inch gaps with caulk. Seal gaps around chimneys with a high-temperature caulk or furnace cement. 
  2. Examine your roof for signs of leaking. If there’s any moisture or staining, fix that problem before you install any insulation. You don’t want a roof leak to cause your new insulation to get moldy. 
  3. Examine any light fixtures that could come into contact with your insulation. Leave an empty space of at least three inches around any light fixtures to avoid a fire hazard. Check your home improvement store for barrier options.
  4. Check your attic space for any exhaust fans that aren’t routed to the exterior. Some DIYers take a shortcut when installing a bathroom or kitchen fan, routing it only to the attic space instead of the outside. Correct this to avoid moisture build-up and potential mold problems in the future. 

Stay Safe

These tips will help keep your insulation project safe and on-track:

  • Cover up from head to toe, including goggles and a dust mask. Wear long sleeves and pants to protect your skin.
  • Lay down a sturdy board to walk on. It’s easy to lose your balance walking on the joists.
  • Use good lighting. Obtain lights or lanterns that illuminate the entire space, and that do not need to be held. 
  • Check the underside of the roof. It’s common to find some roofing nails poking through. If you have some spare packing styrofoam, you can use it to cap these. 


You’ve gotten your attic and yourself prepared. It’s time for the insulation.

Apply your insulation, starting at the outer edges of your attic and working towards the exit. Try not to trample the insulation as you go- it works best when fluffy. Make sure your insulation completely covers the joists, or you will lose some heat through the wood.

 Be careful not to block your soffit vents. The underside of your roof (ceiling of your attic) needs airflow. Without it, you could find yourself dealing with ice dams on your roof. 

So Can You Insulate Your Own Attic?

Attic insulation might seem like a straightforward project that is good for a DIYer. However, it is a time-consuming job that typically requires tools the average homeowner doesn’t have readily available.  It also involves spending time in a hot and often dusty and cramped space. 

If you’re up for it, great! If not, reach out to SoDak insulation for an inspection and quote.

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5 Reasons Why Attic Insulation is Essential

When it comes to protecting your home, there are a few aspects that we all know are essential. Solid materials, good wall insulation, and plenty of drainages are just a few areas to prioritize. 

There is one feature, however, which can totally transform your home: welcome to the world of attic insulation. 

Here at SoDak Insulation , we are committed to helping keep your attic space safe, secure, and free from any unwanted pests or problems. We offer a fast, affordable, and top quality service to keep your attic in tip-top condition all year round. 

Still wondering how we can help? Read on for the top reasons to insulate your attic!

What Is Attic Insulation?

Before you hand over your hard-earned cash, it is essential that you understand what attic insulation is. During the winter or colder months of the year, the heat from your house flows into unheated spaces. These areas can include the basement, garage, and the attic. The heating system in your home must work hard to replace this lost heat. 

In the summer, the opposite happens – heat flows in from outside. As a result, your air conditioning system is forced to work harder. 

Attic insulation makes your home more able to cope with hot and cold weather. It provides resistance to the heat flow, and this is measured by an ‘R-Value’. In short, this is the ability of an insulator material to slow heat flow. The higher the R-value, the stronger the barrier against heat flow.

There are three main types of insulation:

  1. Foam: tends to be used on unfinished ceilings, floors, and roofs. 
  2. Cellulose: constructed from 80% recycled materials, this is common as loose-fill in vaulted ceilings, open attics and walls.
  3. Fiberglass: typical in attics, floors, walls, and ceilings

The type of attic insulation you choose will depend mainly on your personal circumstances and requirements. Our professional team will be happy to help!


1. It can save you money

One unexpected advantage to attic insulation is that it can actually help you to cut your costs. The average American home uses 50%-70% of total energy on heating and cooling the house. 

The Environmental protection Agency estimates that 15% can be saved on costs by ensuring that your home is adequately insulated. It may seem small, but this can add up to significant savings in the long run. 

In addition, this is a great way to stay green and reduce your energy usage. With up to $780 a year for grabs in savings, this is a great incentive to insulate.

2. Keep your home safe

If your home is not adequately insulated, it can cause long-term damage, thanks to a build-up of heat and moisture. Insulation reduces the chance of water vapor creeping into your home. This factor is a leading cause of damp, mold, and potential structural instability. 

Similarly, if your attic gets too hot, the roof tiles and shingles can warp and distort, or cause supporting wood to soften. Ice is another risk; if dams are allowed to form, the entire roof structure will weaken over time. 

Ensuring that you have adequate attic insulation will enable you to invest in long term protection for your home.

3. Stay comfortable

Attic insulation is also a great way to help you enjoy your home all year round. Heat rises, which means that rooms on higher floors can be significantly warmer than those lower down. 

Similarly, the natural tendency of heat to flow from warm to cold areas can cause severe discrepancies in temperature. As a result, you may find areas of your home too warm or cool, depending on the external temperature.

If you notice that the temperature inside your home has a 10-15 degree difference between floors, stay alert. This could be a sign that your insulation needs checking. As most of us sleep on higher floors, it is vital to be comfortable. 

A good night’s sleep is crucial for long-term wellbeing, comfort, and happiness!

4. Enjoy improved air quality

Poor attic insulation can do more than allow leaks and debris into your home. There is also a high chance that your house will suffer from reduced air quality. Inadequate insulation also enables pollutants from outdoors to enter the space. 

This means that dust, mildew, mold, and other unwanted irritants can enter your home via an air leak. 

This may not seem too large an issue to start with, but these airborne toxins can accumulate over time. Eventually, this will cause the quality of the air in your home to deteriorate significantly. 

Over time, this compromises air quality for you and your family. Investing in proper insulation offers a clean, fresh, and healthy internal environment. Adding brand new insulation also helps to eliminate and remove any unwanted particles which may have accumulated.


5. Save your systems!

As we discussed, poor insulation causes the heating and cooling systems in your home to have to work twice as hard. This issue can be particularly prevalent if your home is older; these spaces are more susceptible to draughts. 

By insulating your attic correctly, you reduce the risk of cool air down low, and hotter temperatures at the top. As well as being uncomfortable, these temperature extremes put pressure on your HVAC units. They are forced to work overtime to keep you comfortable.

Attic insulation allows your home to maintain a more even temperature all year round. This also has the added advantage of reducing your energy bills – save cash and the planet at the same time!

SoDak Insulation Can Help

Here at SoDak Insulation, we pride ourselves on offering a comprehensive, professional, and affordable service. Whether you are looking to replace insulation, install protection in a new home, or simply need advice, we can help with a complete inspection. 

We also have plenty of experience in dealing with unwanted pests such as bats and can using new attic insulation.

Protect your home and health and that of your family. Invest in excellent quality insulation, and make sure your home is comfortable, secure, and in tip-top condition all year round.

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How to Know if You Have Enough Attic Insulation

For some, the attic is an amazing upstairs oasis. Fully furnished, it serves as a master bedroom, an office haven, or a child’s giant playroom. For others, the attic is simply a place to stash your leftover furniture and holiday decorations. 

To use your attic, it has to be insulated. You might ask yourself, “How much attic insulation do I need?”

Regardless of what you use your attic for, you will get the most benefit out of it if it is adequately insulated. In addition, you want to know if anything else is hiding in your attic besides decorations.

That’s where SoDak Insulation comes in. SoDak Insulation is a new company stemming from Central Plains Bat Removal Services. We mainly provide attic inspections for pests such as bats and other nesting critters. Once the problems are removed, SoDak is then able to come and inspect for proper insulation levels. 


When Should I Get My Home Inspected?

Most inspections occur when the home is in the buying or selling process. If you are looking to buy a home, you want to know if the structure you’re purchasing is of the utmost quality. All parts of the home need to be inspected. This includes the attic. The same applies if you are looking to sell. You want to make sure every inch is studied so you can get the most value for your home.

SoDak Insulation will inspect your attic to determine if any pests have ever resided there, past or present. They will recommend a thorough, deep cleaning of the attic to remove any fecal matter. You, the homeowner, can do this job, or you can contract out to professionals, like SoDak Insulation. 

Even if your home is not in the buy or sell phase, you can still use SoDak Insulation’s services. Some homeowners use us to inspect their attic anytime they own the home. They want to ensure their home stays clean and thoroughly insulated. 

A well-maintained, clean home can go a long way. It provides comfort, liveability, and security. A home can look clean, but how do you know if it’s really clean? 

If it is fresh, bat feces is easy to detect with the naked eye and nose. But if you’ve owned your home for a while, chances are you’ve grown nose-blind. In some cases, it could be so old it has decomposed and lost its scent. 

If you’ve owned your home for a while, but have never had the attic inspected, chances are you could utilize SoDak’s services. What you can’t see or smell, SoDak’s precise inspection tools can. They will determine if any pests had ever resided in your attic, past or present. They can also determine if you have enough insulation in your attic. 


How Much Insulation Do You Really Need?

Most new homes are up to regulation standards. But if you own an older home, you may be wondering if you have enough insulation in your attic. If your house is drafty, or your heating and cooling bills are exceptionally high, you could likely benefit from more insulation. 

To determine if you have enough, you can measure the height of it. A quick visual scan could suffice. If you can see your floor joists, you can likely benefit by adding more insulation. While this is a quick option, it is highly unreliable. 

The only real way to make sure you have enough insulation is to get it adequately measured. SoDak’s measurements are accurate and reliable. In South Dakota and most of the Northern Hemisphere, insulation levels are given R-values. 

The R-value is a measure of the insulation’s ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-Value, the more able your insulation will hold up to the elements. This means your home will operate more efficiently in summer and winter. By adding more insulation and using less energy, it can help reduce your carbon footprint. A win for everyone!

So what exactly does an R-value represent? For fiberglass and cellulose insulation, each R-value point is estimated at ⅓ of an inch. So an R-value of 3 would be equal to roughly 1 inch of insulation. This translates to approximately 10-14 inches of insulation, depending on the type. So most homes in South Dakota could benefit from an R-value of 49 or greater.

Use SoDak Insulation to Increase the Value of Your Home

The housing market has seen a massive expansion in the past few years. Selling your home has never been easier. At least for most homeowners. Even though homes are moving fast, there is no guarantee every house will sell. Or if it does sell, there is no guarantee it will pass final inspection. 

As the homeowner, you may not be able to control whether your house sells quickly or not. You do, however, have complete control over its value and whether it passes inspection. Before selling, most homeowners fix common problems. Things such as leaky faucets, paint touch-ups, and mold are easily fixable before inspections. 

While these things are great to do, rarely do these items ever cause an infarction during an inspection. Lesser-known problems like improper attic insulation, tend to arise. Catching you, the seller, completely off-guard, and usually left with a hefty bill to pay. 

SoDak can properly inspect your attic space. They will remove any unwanted pests, and they can best recommend the proper amount of insulation needed to sell. This will enable you to increase your home’s overall value and ensure it passes inspection—all for a reasonable price.


Let SoDak Insulation Help You Today!

When it comes to your home, SoDak’s expertise and unparalleled service will give you the quality inspection you deserve. All at a great value. We guarantee our attic inspection services will make sure your attic is pest-free and filled with proper insulation levels. 

If you’re looking to sell your home, or simply want to maintain a clean, efficient home, SoDak can help. We guarantee our work, and we also offer free estimates. So don’t delay, contact SoDak today!