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Attic Insulation

What Type of Insulation is Best for My Attic?

Last year, your feet were always cold. You’ve decided to take action. Your attic is the place to start. But what type of insulation is best for your attic?

Winter is coming. It isn’t uncommon to see the first flakes of snow in October in the midwest. 

Be ready to bundle up this coming season. Get your layers: sweaters, jackets, vests, coats. 

But you shouldn’t need to bundle up indoors. Let your attic wear the layers, and you will stay comfy in your home without always reaching for a sweater. 

If you’re ready to invest in your comfort at home, reach out to SoDak Insulation for an inspection or estimate today. We’ll walk you through your options and offer solutions fine-tuned to your home.

How Does Insulation Work?

Regardless of the type you choose, insulation works by preventing the transfer of heat. 

insulation material like fiberglass or cellulose

Think of a thermos. It will keep the heat inside when you fill it with coffee. It keeps the heat out when you fill it with lemonade. 

The thermos is blocking the movement of heat in both cases. Likewise, the insulation in your attic keeps your home’s heat inside while keeping the exterior heat out.

Have you ever been disappointed in a thermos? You were planning on a nice, hot chili for lunch. But when you opened your container at noon, the contents were barely warm. You just experienced the effects of inadequate insulation. 

You don’t want your house to be like lukewarm chili.

The thickness of your insulation matters, but the kind of insulation you choose matters even more.

All types of attic insulation have an R-value. R-value is a measure of how well the insulation material prevents heat loss. 

As you consider what type of insulation is best for your attic, you’ll need to know the ideal r-value to add. In a cold climate like South Dakota, plan for a total R-value of 60. This will keep your home cozy all winter long.

What Type Of Insulation Is Best For My Attic? 

Proper insulation improves comfort levels and energy efficiency. Adding insulation is a relatively inexpensive improvement with a big payout in comfort as well as lower utility bills. 

Let’s take a look at some common types of insulation for your attic.

builder installing or removing old insulation

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation is the pink stuff most people think of when they hear the word insulation. Molten glass is spun into fibers, like a glass cotton candy.

This type of insulation is available in rolls or batts that are easy to lay between the floor joists. 

Fiberglass insulation has several advantages to consider:

  • It’s inexpensive. When estimating the cost of adding R-value, fiberglass can give the biggest bang for your buck.
  • Insects don’t eat it. Fiberglass has no nutritional value, so insects are not drawn to it. 
  • Blanket fiberglass insulation can be installed without any special tools. It just needs to be rolled out to cover your attic space.
  • It doesn’t burn. 
  • Faced insulation (the kind that comes with a vapor barrier on one side) is resistant to moisture and mold.

 

Fiberglass insulation has some disadvantages to consider, as well:

  • It’s itchy. If you’re planning on installing this yourself, make sure to cover all of your skin. Wear a dust mask to protect your lungs. The tiny shards of glass that make up fiberglass can leave you feeling itchy or scratched up if it touches your bare skin. If you inhale them, they can cause lung disease.
  • It doesn’t seal at the edges. Like a blanket that isn’t tucked around your feet, fiberglass batts can leave a gap where it meets the walls of your attic. You can try to squash it in those spaces, but fiberglass insulation only works well if it isn’t compressed. 

Blown-in fiberglass doesn’t have this problem.

  • It will eventually lose its fluff. Insulation works by trapping air. Fluffy insulation holds more air in place, so as fiberglass batts settle and sag over time, its efficiency decreases. 

Fiberglass is also available in loose-fill, which is blown in with a machine. This job is best left to professionals. 

loose fill fiberglass insulation for attic

Cellulose

Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper, making it an eco-friendly choice. This loose-fill insulation is blown in with a machine, making it easy to reach those edges where your attic is too short to stand. 

Here are a couple of pluses about cellulose:

  • It’s environmentally friendly. 
  • It fits in tight spaces. The blown-in cellulose works neatly around ducts and wiring.
  • Cellulose is fire-resistant. It’s coated with boric acid and is considered safe. 
  • Insects won’t eat it. 

Here are some of the downsides:

  • Settling. Like fiberglass, cellulose has a tendency to settle over time. As it ages, it becomes less efficient.
  • It has the potential to mold. Cellulose will soak in any moisture quickly. If there are any moisture issues in your attic, cellulose will quickly mold.

Cellulose may be the best type of insulation for your attic, but you definitely want to correct any moisture problems before installing it.

Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation comes in two forms.

Closed-cell foam has a higher density and a higher R-value. It also is more resistant to water penetration. 

Open-cell foam has a lower R-value. It expands as it’s applied, making it a good choice for hard to reach areas. 

Open-cell foam is permeable to water and air. It should only be used for small fill in spaces. 

Closed-cell spray foam has some excellent advantages:

  • It expands quickly to create an airtight barrier around gaps and crevices. 
  • Spray foam doesn’t soak in water, and it doesn’t let water pass by. If you do have water penetration in your attic, spray foam has the best chance of holding up to it.
  • It lasts. Unlike many other options, spray foam does not settle over time. 
  • It’s a great sound dampener. Spray foam helps absorb sound waves that might otherwise echo around your house. 

The downsides:

  • It costs more than other options. 
  • You’ll need a professional to install it.
  • It can’t be added to other types of existing insulation. If you’re just looking to beef up the R-value in your marginally insulated attic, this may not be the best type of insulation.

The Best Choice Will Keep You Happy For Years To Come

So, what type of insulation is best for your attic? It’s the kind that leaves you and your home the most comfortable. 

Contact SoDak Insulation today to get more information about the best attic insulation plan for you. We can give you options that won’t leave you out in the cold. 

 

Categories
Attic Insulation

Save Money This Winter with Home Insulation Services

In a world of current uncertainty, finding ways to cut back on costs is crucial for many of us. Making the most of home insulation services may not be the most obvious choice. It is, however, a great chance to save the pennies and stay cozy this winter.

Here at SoDak Insulation, we are dedicated to helping our customers secure their homes — even on a budget. Why not get in touch before the winter months hit, and see how our free estimate could help you stay snug and secure?

What Are Home Insulation Services?

As the name suggests, the term ‘home insulation services’ refers to available options to help you insulate your home. This concept helps keep the property warmer by reducing heat loss and helps make your home more energy-efficient.

For many of us, staying warm accounts for a large percentage of our energy bills. A surprising amount of heat is lost each year through inadequate insulation. Research from the US Department of Energy confirms that 49% of energy consumption is used to heat or cool homes. Over time, this can lead to some very high bills.

house in cold winter snow

Do I Need Home Insulation?

You should start by checking the current situation, by removing electrical outlets or unfinished surfaces to check for existing insulations. There are a few signs which may indicate that your home could benefit from additional insulation:

  • Very high power bills when heating or cooling
  • Icicles on the rooftop in the winter months
  • Drafts — usually around a window or dryer vent
  • Fluctuating temperatures between rooms — this could show an issue in a particular area of the home.

 

What Are My Options?

Home insulation services offer several different varieties of insulation and insulation materials. The type of insulation you choose will ultimately depend on your own setup and the areas in your home which most require attention.

Attic Insulation

Attic insulation is one of the most common ways to boost your overall home insulation. The roof comprises an enormous area of your home, and it is situated at the top of the house. As we know, heat rises, which means that most heat lost will be at the top of the house — from the attic. 

Most home insulation services will start with this part of the house, as it can have the most dramatic impact on reducing energy costs. There are two main options available, depending on your type of attic. The easiest is designed for an unfinished space and simply requires you to add layers to your flooring on top of the existing material.

insulation in a home

The second option is to finish the attic and place insulation against the roof. This is the more useful option in most cases as it provides complete insulation. Additionally, if the heating and cooling ducts pass through this space or are in a humid client, roof insulation is the way to go.

When it comes to getting the work done, there are two solutions. Those looking to cut costs can go the DIY route — in which case take care not to compress the material. Alternatively, it is possible to hire professional insulation contractors. 

The latter will often open you up to better materials, such as cellulose insulation or fiberglass, which can fit crevices more snugly. Most home insulation services and contractors will also spray foam polyethylene on the roof. This process helps block water and molds to the shape of the rafters.

Wall Insulation

Wall insulation is perhaps the most popular option once the attic has been taken care of and is one of the popular insulation solutions. As a bonus, it is usually fast and relatively painless, especially in stud bays. Once again, cellulose and fiberglass insulation are the most popular, while rock wool also works well.

It should be noted that if your walls are already insulated, you will need to remove drywall and plaster to add more. This can drive up costs and reduce any potential savings. If you are in this situation, there are other home insulation services you can take advantage of, such as attics and crawl spaces.

Crawl Spaces

Did you know you can make the most of your crawl space by using it to cut down on energy bills? Up to 30% of all energy loss can occur at the bottom of your house, making this a must for insulation. 

There are two main options here: walls or floors. In the former, the crawl space is treated as an outdoor area and insulated beneath the floor. In the former, the focus is on the walls.

Though the latter is less common, it is cheaper. The process involves closing all exterior vents — except any needed for any exhaust or combustion air — and insulating the walls. The space is then treated as though it is indoors, and less material is required. The walls can then be finished to neatly hide any insulation.

house wrapped in a scarf on a radiator to indicate home insulation services

What Will I Save?

Home insulation services put off some homeowners due to cost, and this is a valid concern. In particular, the attic can prove a costly project and may command a bill of $1000 – $2000 if done correctly and with the best material.

However, there are estimates that the average homeowner can make savings of 15% on heating and cooling costs. This translates as an impressive 11% of the total energy costs by merely adding adequate insulation. 

This can add up to savings of around $200 per year — and the figures increase in colder areas. Climate zones six and seven can see savings of up to 20%, making this a worthwhile investment.

The long-term future is also positive; houses with the correct insulation can often command a higher price on the market. This is good news if you decide to sell. Home insulation services are seen as an investment in the property and attractive to buyers.

In addition to the financial benefits, adding insulation to your home means that it is a more comfortable and pleasant place to be. You will be able to enjoy the space all year round, with no fluctuations in temperature or high energy bills. 

This is a chance to remain cozy in the winter and cool in the summer. As an added bonus, many homeowners report that insulation also offers noise protection, allowing you much needed peace and quiet.

How Can We Help?

Here at SoDak Insulation, we know a thing or two about home insulation! We are keen to help our customers enjoy their homes comfortably and in the most cost-effective manner. Better still, we have the secret weapon to help you achieve this. Reach out today for a free estimate, and prepare to start enjoying your home once more.

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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.