What Are the Best Tips for Installing Attic Insulation?

David Bishop

While installing attic insulation can be a difficult chore, it also can help households save money on their winter heating bills. The installation process is dependent on the type of attic in the home and how it is designed. Attics above the living space should be carefully sealed with caulk and insulated with either loose fill or blanket products. Walk-in attics will typically require blanket insulation along the walls and weatherstripping around doorways to help prevent heat transfer between the attic space and the rest of the house. Homeowners should always wear gloves, masks and protective eye-wear when installing new insulation to help keep fibers and dust out of their eyes and lungs.

Batt insulation is often used in attics.
Batt insulation is often used in attics.

The first step in installing attic insulation is to limit the airflow between the space and the exterior, except for any existing ventilation systems. Owners should check around ducts, chimneys and other structures to make sure they are properly sealed from both air and water. Any spaces should be filled and sealed with the appropriate type of caulk. The homeowner may wish to inspect the attic after a heavy rain for signs of roof leaks and water damage before applying insulation that could conceal a problem.

A dust mask should be worn during insulation installation.
A dust mask should be worn during insulation installation.

In some climates, the owner may wish to wait for a day of relatively milder temperatures before installing attic insulation. Unfinished attic spaces can become extremely hot in the summer or cold in the winter months. Installers should wear protective clothing when handling insulation to help avoid irritation or injury from loose fibers. They also should use caution when moving around in the attic and try to put weight only on well-anchored surfaces, such as roofing beams. Stepping directly onto the ceiling can result in major injuries or damage to the drywall.

When choosing insulation, the homeowner should take into account the type of attic and how easy it is to access. Smaller attics generally require loose-fill insulation, because it can be pumped into tighter spaces. Larger attics with regularly spaced beams can usually accommodate some kind of blanket or batt-and-roll insulation. This type of insulation comes in rolls that are designed to fit into the space between the ceiling beams. Homeowners may wish to consult with a representative from a heating and air-conditioning company before purchasing or installing attic insulation.

Walk-in attics may require additional work to help keep air from moving between the finished and unfinished spaces. Owners may wish to install weatherstripping or foam tape in doorways to help prevent cool drafts from blowing into the home. Installing a solid core or insulated door also may help limit heat transfer inside the home. After the owner has finished installing attic insulation, he should inspect his work during the winter to make sure the insulation is functioning properly.

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