Home Maintenance 101: Why Proper Attic Insulation Matters

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • December 23, 2019

Understanding the Importance of Proper Attic Insulation

Did you know between 40 to 70 percent of your home’s energy escapes through the attic? In most cases, this is why your energy bill may be higher than you expected — and it’s almost always due to poor attic insulation. 

Unfortunately, a large percentage of homeowners neglect the importance of proper attic insulation, with roughly 60 percent of homes not having adequately insulated attics. Out-of-sight, out-of-mind, right?

While the attic likely isn’t your favorite spot in the house, it’s important to keep it properly maintained since it plays a key role in the function of your home. Keep reading to learn why a properly insulated attic matters for your home.

Types of Attic Insulation 

Let’s begin by first discussing the four main types of attic insulation.

1. Blown Insulation

Commonly referred to as loose-fill insulation, this is an insulation made from shredded or pelleted materials including fiberglass and cellulose and is installed using an air-powered blower. This variety is perfect for attics with hard to access areas or unusual shapes.

2. Batt Insulation

Batt insulation, also known as blanket insulation, comes in pre-cut rolls and is the least expensive insulation option. Many homeowners can install this insulation variety themselves but should seal any gaps first for the blanket insulation to be most effective. 

3. Expanding Foam Insulation 

Expanding foam insulation is used to stop interior air leakage from cracks or crevices. This is another DIY option that can also be used to insulate the entire attic.

4. Foam Board Insulation 

Unlike the expanding foam insulation mentioned above, the foam board is not an ideal option for insulating the entire attic. This type is costly and best suited for sealing small openings instead.

Signs of Poor Attic Insulation

So how can you tell when your current insulation has failed and needs to be repaired or replaced? In your home, keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs of a poorly insulated attic:

  • Cold air drafts
  • Fluctuating temperatures
  • Expensive heating or cooling bills 
  • Ice dams on the roof during winter
  • Frozen pipes
  • Water leaks from the attic
  • Mold growth inside the attic
  • Cold floors inside the home
  • Water or temperature damage to items stored in the attic
  • Visibly damaged insulation
  • Unwanted pests

The 4 Main Purposes of Attic Insulation

Insulation works by holding onto air pockets that remain trapped inside the insulating materials. This acts as a thermal barrier and prevents the combination of interior and exterior air between the living spaces of the home and attic. In doing so, attic insulation benefits your home by:

1. Maintaining Temperature

Attic insulation plays a vital role in keeping your home at a comfortable temperature throughout the year. Plus, a properly insulated attic requires less effort from your HVAC system, allowing you to save money on your energy bill.

With proper insulation, your attic should be colder than the rest of your home during the winter, while the warm air pumped out from the HVAC system stays in the livable spaces below. Otherwise, hot air from your home may settle into your attic and increase your chances of an ice dam.

Attic insulation isn’t only important in winter, but in the summer months as well. Without proper insulation, the heat from the sun during the summer penetrates through the exterior roof and warms up the rest of the house. This can result in unbearably hot temperatures throughout the lower parts of the home. 

2. Preventing Moisture

Another issue that can stem from poor attic insulation includes high moisture levels that can lead to mold growth and water damage. When left untreated, these issues can become expensive and difficult to repair, which is why it’s important to inspect your attic throughout the year for these types of damages. 

Worried about water damage throughout your home? Learn how to check your home for signs of water damage, here.

3. Protecting Storage

The attic is commonly used as storage for priceless items such as photographs, family heirlooms, and vintage antiques. Improper insulation can result in extreme attic temperatures or moisture levels that can ruin these irreplaceable items. Read our blog, 3 Ways to Protect Storage in Your Attic and Basement, for helpful tips to protect items in the attic.

4. Maintaining the Roof

Roof maintenance is another reason why proper attic insulation matters. Since the attic is the divider between your roof and the rest of your home, issues from your roof may directly impact your attic and home without proper insulation. When properly insulated, however, insulation can confine issues to the attic and prevent them from wreaking havoc to other parts of your home.

Related: Maintenance Tips to Extend the Life of Your Roof

As you can see, taking care of your attic and its insulation are important to maintaining a healthy home. Without proper insulation, your attic may be vulnerable to high temperatures, moisture damage and pest damage. Not to mention the hefty energy bill that accompanies a poorly insulated attic!

The first step to evaluating the condition of your current attic insulation is by completing a brief attic inspection. While we always recommend contacting a professional, we have prepared a downloadable guide to help you complete an in-depth attic inspection on your own. 

Click the button below to download our interactive guide, DIY Attic Inspection: A Pre-Winter Checklist, and access your copy!

DOWNLOAD YOUR GUIDE

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