Homeowner’s Guide to Blown-In Attic Insulation
Posted in Attic Insulation, on March 17, 2020
When it comes to insulation materials for your attic, blown-in cellulose insulation is one of the best options out there. It’s cost-efficient, affordable, and most importantly, reliable. And with unpredictable temperatures and weather in Toronto, having the right insulation is absolutely vital for your home. However, re-insulating parts of your home such as your attic can be a daunting task. You might not know where to start, what you need to do to prepare, or how to make sure attic insulation has been properly installed. There are a lot of considerations around material, ventilation, and processes that need to be kept in mind as you ensure your attic is insulated effectively.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to attic insulation, then this is the right resource for you. We’ll run through some of the basic features that homeowners should know. This will help you understand what you absolutely need to know for a smooth blown-in insulation process, key things to look for, and how to add some extra benefits to your re-insulation for even better results.
Steps to insulating your attic
1. Start with cleaning & damage assessment
Before you get started, your first step is to prepare the space. Attics can be susceptible to a lot of different weather elements and damage, so you need to assess the space before starting any work. You need to check that there is no mold growth, animal waste, insect waste or water damage. There can also be other issues as moisture build-up and ice dams, so doing a top-to-bottom inspection before starting anything is absolutely vital.
If you find any of these before starting the insulation process, stop! First take care of the damage, because otherwise, it can snowball into other issues. And if you’re not sure, have a professional come in and assess the space. Getting a second (expert) eye can be helpful to ensure you have not missed any damage and that space is ready. It might be a sign of poor ventilation or none at all. Think of this as a health check-up for your attic and as a way to better understand what could potentially be affecting it before you start on the insulation process.
2. Seal out air
Once the attic has been assessed and any damages found have been remedied, the insulation work begins. Sealing out air leaks is important for two reasons:
First, it allows the insulation itself to work more effectively. And secondly, it minimizes how hard the HVAC system must work. These factors are important for your home as a whole, not just your attic. It helps ensure that you are not using more energy than you need and that home temperature is regulated as efficiently as possible. If you find yourself constantly messing with the thermostat, and not getting the right temperature despite having insulation in the attic, there may be an issue affecting its performance.
Whether it’s an air leak or issue of insufficient insulation, it has to be assessed. Remember, your house is not just one door or window, it works as a unit. Therefore, each individual part of the attic needs to be examined, as well as how they all operate together.
3. Focus on ventilation
No one wants a stuffy room or an even stuffier attic. And more importantly, without ventilation, there can be a lot of long-term damage. It is incredibly important to ensure that the attic is well-ventilated and that warm air can escape.
This helps prevent water damage from condensation, mold growth, and is also important in terms of energy efficiency. Exploring it a bit more, you’ll find that improper ventilation leads to a whole host of issues. Without ventilation, your attic could be more susceptible to ice dams in the winter, along with moisture build-up, wood rot, mildew, external and interior roof damage, as well as issues with your shingles.
Unfortunately, ventilation is the only way to prevent these issues, which is why it is such an important part of the insulation process. Intakes need to be balanced with exhaust. Without this, there is no airflow, and the starting point of a host of other issues. Before moving forward, you need to have a full assessment done of your ventilation. Whether you choose to do that yourself or enlist the help of a professional is up to you, but this needs to happen in order to undertake a successful attic insulation project.
4. Time to Insulate Your attic
Once everything is in order, now it’s time to actually insulate. However, before starting the insulation process in earnest, it is important to consider some key questions before getting started. What materials work best for attic insulation, and how important is it to have a residential service expert undertake the process? Blown-in cellulose has a lot of benefits whether used on its own or in combination with other materials. It is particularly effective when paired with spray foam, and can lead to even better results when it comes to heat transfer.
While some homeowners use blown-in cellulose as their first option, we know that others will want to do more research on the topic to better understand the pros and cons of different insulations for their attics. Here are some of the common questions we have come across during this process, and our research into the answers:
What materials should I use for insulation?
You’ll find that when it comes to insulation materials, there are a lot of debates about what works and what doesn’t. And while it might be hard to sift through that information and come to the right decision, that’s where we come in. We have over 30 years of experience in the residential services field, and we understand what homeowners need. It can be difficult to balance costs and materials. You want what’s best for your home, but you also want an insulation material that provides good value for money while keeping your home running the way it should.
For a long time fibreglass was the conventional material used, but insulation has evolved since then. Alternatives like blown-in cellulose are far better for the environment and for your energy bill, while still being cost-effective. It has a lot of benefits and has become a popular insulation solution for a good reason across many homes and attics. While there are a lot of costly options out there for insulation, not all of them are created equal. Some may end up costing you more in the long run, since they will not be able to transfer heat as effectively. This, in turn, forces your HVAC system to work more, but not as efficiently...which ultimately leads to a lot more temperature issues throughout the house, and higher energy bills.
Why should I use blown-in cellulose for my attic insulation?
Cellulose is the best option for a variety of reasons. It’s eco-friendly since it is made of recycled newspaper and plant fibres, making it a great green option. Compared to other materials such as fiberglass, it performs much better when it comes to heat transfer and as a sealant against air leaks.
Blown-in cellulose also contains borate, which is a natural solution to help prevent fire, pest, and mold damage. It can help keep your attic in good condition, and its ability to retain heat makes it the best possible choice. Using a renewable energy source to insulate with, such as blown-in cellulose enables you to run an energy-efficient home that will retain heat properly, and won’t require frequently adjusting your thermostat. More importantly, blown-in cellulose is also a non-toxic substance, making it incredibly safe to use in your home.
R-Value is an important consideration when choosing insulation, and other materials such as fiberglass or spray foam may not be as helpful. The R-Value of your insulation refers to how well a substance can resist heat transfer. There are often gaps and voids left in the attic space with other insulation materials that can end up making your home even more inefficient, and ultimately affect your HVAC system and airflow. Blown-in cellulose continues to outperform these other materials in terms of efficiently filling in the attic space for optimal thermal performance without breaking the bank. It has a higher R-Value per inch than fibreglass insulation, and you can often achieve R-Values similar to spray foam with blown-in cellulose, without the same steep cost .
Another little known benefit of blown-in cellulose insulation is its noise-cancelling abilities. Filling your attic with cellulose effectively buffers and diffuses noise within the home, so you don’t have to worry about how your daily activities affect the rest of your family or your neighbours. If home sees a lot of inside activity, including lots of music, loud talking, or hobbies that require noisy tools, blown-in cellulose can minimize noise transfer to support the comfort of your home, and those around it.
Why should I get an expert to help with my attic insulation?
A properly insulated attic can help increase the structural integrity of the room while also ensuring that other systems in your home such as air conditioning and the furnace are running effectively. It is very important to ensure attic insulation is installed methodically and thoroughly, while keeping an extra close eye out for potential problems or vulnerabilities in the attic.
There are a lot of different components that need to be assessed and inspected before and during the attic insulation process, which can make it stressful and overwhelming. And if you are not sure what you should be looking for while you are inspecting, you might miss some sort of damage that could make the insulation process harder, or compromise your home altogether.
By getting the help of a professional attic insulation expert, you can not only ensure that insulation is installed correctly, but that you also have a sufficient thickness and R-value, and there are no other potential issues in the attic that would compromise insulation and overall energy efficiency of the home. They can help you with identifying potential or existing ventilation issues, air leaks, and check that each part of your attic such as windows and doors are in good condition. This makes the insulation process that much easier, while also helping you with key maintenance for your home.
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with the insulation process itself, what materials to use, and the best way to do it, you can enlist the help of the attic insulation experts at Four Seasons Insulation to manage the insulation process and ensure that it is being done correctly. They have insight and experience into the entire process, can quickly understand what your particular situation needs, and the best options for your home. As Homestars Verified Insulation Experts, our team can give you tailored advice for your home that is incredibly valuable not just for the short-term but also for your long-term insulation needs. Thermal conduction can be an incredibly complicated system to figure out, but that’s what we do best!
The bottom line
Insulation is an absolutely key part of owning a home and it is important to keep an eye on it and ensure that everything is being inspected and re-insulated in a timely manner. Without inspection over the course of years, insulation can compress and settle enough to severely reduce heat flow which, in turn, means higher energy bills for you. In terms of materials, blown-in cellulose is by far the best choice for attic insulation compared to other materials such as fiberglass or spray foam. It’s better for the environment, your attic, and your energy bills while still providing the best value for money.
And while this guide serves as a resource, it is by no means exhaustive or can replace an expert eye on attic insulation. Some homeowners may feel equipped to undertake installing insulation on their own, but having a professional to manage ensures that everything is being done correctly, and there are not any issues being missed such as mold or water damage that may cause issues later on.
Whether you need a helping hand during the process or a more dedicated insulation service, Four Seasons Insulation can help. We serve Toronto, and throughout the Greater Toronto Area. We are experts in attic insulation and mold remediation and are committed to helping homeowners, making us a trusted attic insulation company in Toronto that delivers efficient and eco-friendly solutions. If you would like to learn more about services and how we can help you with your home and attic insulation, please contact Four Seasons Insulation today.
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