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Attic Insulation

Why You Want to Insulate Your Attic Roof

If you head up into your attic, you’ll probably notice insulation on the attic floor. We’ve got a few sound reasons why it’s also a good idea to insulate your attic roof.

SoDak Insulation specializes in insulating attic roofs in existing homes. If you’re preparing to sell your home, have attic pests like bats, or want energy savings in the coming seasons, contact us for a free, no-obligation inspection report.

We’ll ensure your insulation is clean, effective, and safe for maximum home comfort and efficiency.

dark dreary attic that needs new insulation installed

First, clear the decks

In any insulation scenario, it’s essential to be able to see what’s going on. If you have boxes, bins, and “stuff” in general in your attic, do what you can to clear it away. 

Laying boards across the joists limits your ability to add insulation where necessary and also limits your attic versatility for the future. For example, if you ever want to finish your attic space to add to your functional living areas, the items stored in your attic must go.

What is conventional attic insulation?

Most homeowners employ attic floor insulation in their houses. There are different types of insulation available on the market, and it’s essential to check your insulation regularly. Especially if you notice your heating and cooling bills creeping up, a poorly insulated attic could be the culprit.

Further, if and when you decide to convert your attic floor insulation to insulate the attic roof, you must know the type, age, and condition of your existing material. Insulation removal can be tricky or present safety hazards.

What type of insulation do you have in your attic currently? It may fit into one of these categories:

  1. Loose-fill: This insulation was likely sprayed into your floorboards, and contains one or more of the following materials.
    • Cellulose (fire and insect resistant fibers generated from post-consumer paper)
    • Mineral wool (rock or recycled slag fibers)
  2. Batting: These are rolls of material that may or may not come backed with foil or paper to serve as a vapor barrier. They come in:
    • Fiberglass (made from sand or recycled glass and spun into fibers)
    • Cellulose (not quite as common in batts as in loose-fill)
    • Mineral wool (same ingredients as above, and naturally fire-resistant)
    • Cotton (old denim cloth recycles down into these insulating fibers)

It’s crucial to recognize the type of insulation you have now. If your home went up before the 1990s, you’ll need to check for asbestos-based insulation in your attic. 

When you view your insulation, look for loose fill material that appears light-weight and grainy, with small, shiny flecks. This type of insulation could be vermiculite, which could contain asbestos. 

Have a professional help you inspect and remove this type of loose-fill particles.

Why insulate attic roofs?

When you insulate your attic roof, you expand your home’s utility. With attic roof insulation, you can finish off the attic space for:

  • Conditioned, temp-controlled storage
  • Additional bedroom space
  • More living space
  • A dedicated home office
  • Children’s playspace

 

When you want your attic to function as a usable part of your home, you must elevate the insulation from the attic floor to the roof.

attic roof with mold in it

How do I insulate my attic roof?

The types and amount of insulation vary by material and region. Here’s a guide to getting started.

  1. Determine your recommended R-values: Each climate region has different insulation requirements. The weather extremes (long periods of freezing temps) mean higher R-values. In the colder northern climate of South Dakota and surrounding areas, R-49 is the minimum. 
  2. Remove over-the-joist boards and storage items. Even if you’ll use your attic space for storage again, getting everything out to access the existing insulation must occur.
  3. Remove existing insulation: Yes, you could DIY this chore, but it’s simple and cost-effective to outsource this task to a pro. If you have bat guano or other pest droppings, mold, moisture, or you suspect asbestos; an experienced insulation installer is the way to go. When you hire a professional, you offload the risk to your safety, the need to purchase special equipment, and the hassle of insulation disposal.
  4. Determine your attic insulation material.

house attic under construction with insulation

Options for attic roof insulation

It makes sense that loose-fill insulation is NOT a fit for attic roofs. So, where does that leave you? Here are the best choices for attic roof insulation.

Rigid foam panels: These panels provide a moisture and air barrier, and can install between attic rafters or just below them. They provide a light-weight, finished-looking option and versatile utility. Joints must be sealed with tape or joined with spray foam to ensure a proper tight vapor seal.

Foam panels come in several varieties, including EP (expanded polystyrene), EXP (Extruded Polystyrene), and ISO (Polyisocyanurate).  All have different applications and R-values, so check with a professional installer for the best option for your project.

Spray foam: Made of polyurethane, this flexible attic insulation choice goes into any tight space and expands to fit correctly. You’ll have an instant moisture and air barrier between the roof rafters. For extra attic living space, this is a great option. 

You must cover the foam with drywall to meet fire safety codes after spraying. Spray foam also provides a high R-value for maximum energy efficiency.

Trust the professional installers at SoDak Insulation

In the age of DIY, it’s certainly possible to install your attic insulation on your own. However, pest messes, mold, and suspect materials aren’t fun to address for any homeowner. 

When you consider finishing your attic for conditioned storage or extra living space, it’s wise to trust a team of experienced professionals to complete the project for you. 

SoDak Insulation’s team of seasoned insulation specialists can handle any attic insulation task with ease and precision. We’ll tackle the most massive attic messes as well as recommend the attic roof insulation products that best fit your goals for the attic space. Our installations are tidy, timely, and cost-saving season on season.

Visit our website today to schedule a free, no-obligation inspection. We’re excited to be your partner in insulation that keeps your home comfortable and versatile for years to come.

Categories
Attic Insulation

Heat Loss and Attic Insulation

Having enough insulation in your attic is a lot like wearing a hat in the winter. Your stocking cap doesn’t just warm your head; it makes your whole body toasty warm. A well-insulated attic prevents heat loss and helps keep your entire home cozy.

Warm air rises. If your attic isn’t adequately insulated, the heat meant for your home will float right out of your house.

Don’t suffer through another frigid winter in a drafty house. Contact SoDak Insulation for a free inspection today. 

How Does Insulation Work?

Have you ever wondered how that hat on your head made such a difference on cold days? 

The heat your body makes leaches out to the air around you. When you get cold, your blood vessels constrict to keep more heat in the center of your body. 

But the blood vessels in your head don’t constrict like the ones in your fingers and toes; they have to keep good blood flow to your brain. So, those blood vessels lose more heat — unless you wear a hat, of course. 

Okay, biology lesson over. What does this have to do with insulation? 

Think of the living space of your house as though it was your head. It needs to stay warm and to flow smoothly; there’s important stuff in there. 

house in winter with cozy scarf and hat to prevent heat loss

Your attic is like a hat for your house. If you don’t have one, or only have minimal insulation, you’ll experience a lot of heat loss. 

Just like a knit stocking cap, a thick, fluffy layer of insulation will slow heat loss by trapping air. The air trapped in the insulation gains heat but keeps it from rising further because it isn’t bouncing around with cooler air molecules. 

Heat travels from warmer spaces to colder spaces until the temperature is the same throughout. But when insulation blocks airflow in your attic and walls, the air temperature only normalizes within that space. 

The result: you aren’t heating the whole neighborhood. 

Heat loss increases your bills. 

Insulation is measured in R-value. The R-value of insulation measures how well a material blocks heat transfer. Insulation with higher R-value blocks heat better than the same amount of insulation with a lower R-value. 

The higher your R-value, the toastier your home will feel while using the least energy. The Department of Energy states homes in South Dakota should be insulated to R-60 for maximum energy efficiency.

If your home was built in the 1970s or earlier, it probably doesn’t have adequate insulation. Building standards in the 1970s and 1980s required insulating to R-12. 

The EPA estimates that a typical South Dakota home could lower heating and cooling bills by 18% by adding insulation. If your heating bill is typically about $100 per month, you could expect to save an average of about $18 a month after adding insulation. 

If you spent $500 on your insulation project, you could expect your lower monthly expenses to make up for that in about 28 months. 

insulation in an attic to prevent heat loss

How Do I Know If I Have Enough Insulation?

Your home should feel comfortable. If you set your thermostat lower to decrease bills, you may want to wear a sweater. That’s normal. 

But if you find yourself kicking the heat up another notch, and then another, your home may be suffering from heat loss. 

Grab your step stool and touch the ceiling. Does it feel cold to the touch? If your ceiling feels like an ice cube, you probably don’t have enough insulation. 

Take a look at your roof after a snowfall. Do you have an ice shelf covering your gutters? Attics that are poorly insulated will melt the snow on the roof. That melted snow runs down the roof until it gets near the edge. 

The roof over the eaves is colder because it doesn’t have attic heat warming it. So, the water refreezes there, creating a smooth, thick ice barrier. 

As more snow melts and drips down, it reaches the ice dam and refreezes. Because ice takes up more space than water, the newly refrozen ice pushes its way back up the roof. If you have shingles, the ice can push its way under them, causing damage. 

Ice dams are a sure sign that too much heat is escaping your home. 

ice on roof and gutters

Can You Ever Have Too Much Insulation?

You want your home to be snug against the winter winds. Your home is your safe, happy place. It should feel like sitting around a fireplace with a mug of cocoa in your hand. 

But can your home be too snug? Is there such a thing as too cozy? 

Insulation with high R-value acts to keep your home’s heat in place. If you already have enough insulation to accomplish that, adding more will not improve the feel of your home or the dollar amount on your heating bills. 

The goal of insulation is to seal the interior of your home, keeping your heat inside. However, installation errors combined with excess layers of insulation can trap moisture in between the layers. 

When moisture sits for an extended period of time, it can cause mold. Mold can be dispersed in the air, affecting air quality and causing allergic reactions in the people living in the home. 

If your insulation has mold, hire a professional to remove it safely. Moldy insulation cannot be cleaned. 

Your Home is Your Sanctuary. Keep It Comfortable and Efficient With the Right Insulation.

Minimize heat loss in your home by making sure you have enough attic insulation. Don’t want to crawl around in your attic? Contact SoDak Insulation today for a free inspection. We’ll check the quality of your current insulation and make recommendations to maximize your home’s efficiency.