There's a right and wrong way to go about attic insulation, and a professional knows what your house needs.
If you watch DIY TV shows often enough, you might come away with an empowered feeling that you can take on the world.
Or at least most of the aisles at your home improvement store. But where attic insulation is concerned, you might want to press the pause button and talk with a professional instead.
Insulation seems straightforward, but it's really not. Not the removal of what's already there, and not the installation of new material. When it's time to improve upon or replace the insulation in your home, here's why a pro is the best approach.
Sometimes removing insulation is as tricky as installing it.
#1: Old Attic Insulation Might be Hazardous
You're probably familiar with insulation in the form of fiberglass batts or blankets. While it seems hazardous enough, particularly if you're unlucky enough to find some inside your shirt collar, that's not the biggest risk in an older home.
Prior to the 1970s, asbestos was not regarded as a hazard, at least not in earnest. It wasn't banned in many household applications until the late 1970s, according to This Old House. If your home was built before 1980, there's at least a chance that asbestos is lurking in the attic insulation. The older the home, the greater the chance.
The problem with asbestos isn't its general presence in your home, but its specific presence in the air. Undisturbed, it's often OK. But even a slight disturbance can make the material friable or airborne. That's when it's a breathable, serious health hazard. But a professional knows how to safely handle and remove it.
#2: Choosing New Attic Insulation Isn't Simple
You can head to your favorite big box store and buy enough fiberglass batts to cover the whole attic. It's lightweight, inexpensive, and not especially difficult to cut or roll out. But wait. What about all of the other insulation products in the aisle?
Insulation isn't just insulation. Each type has its place, and some works better in certain homes than others. Sometimes you need a combination of materials for the best thermal barrier in your attic.
Insulation selection ranges from batts or blankets to rigid foam board to loose material that's blown in. There's also spayed-on foam in both open-cell and closed-cell varieties. Buying insulation isn't hard. Knowing what's right for you home often is, and a pro knows the difference.
Ceiling insulation might be a great idea or a total disaster.
#3: Installation is Anything but Straightforward
Just because you could roll out a blanket or rent a machine to blow in loose materials doesn't mean that either is a good idea. Each material has its own specific method, and every house has its own design. Installed correctly, the material will create a barrier that helps keep your home cooler in summer and warm as toast in winter. Installed incorrectly, and the potential for damage is phenomenal.
It might be hard to imagine, but something as simple as installing a fiberglass batt upside down or in the wrong place could create a condensation problem in the attic that produces hazardous mold and widespread structural rot. Some condensation problems can mimic a roof leak, complete with drips and a soggy attic floor. And The Family Handyman says ice dams are often the result of faulty insulation.
A professional understands the scientific complexities of attic ventilation, why it matters, and how to insulate properly to avoid problems. Nobody likes to go to the attic with any sort of regularity. When it's insulated by a professional, you won't have to.
Insulation entails a whole lot more than wrapping your house in a blanket. The theory is simple enough. With a nice barrier, hot air won't transfer in during the summer and heated air won't transfer out in winter. But a house is a sophisticated thing with ventilation avenues throughout.
Done poorly, that thermal blanket could result in a host of expensive headaches. But done well, you'll get exactly what you'd hoped for: A dry, comfortable, energy efficient home. If you're in the market for new attic insulation, do yourself and your home a favor and call the professionals at Clean Crawl. And download our Homeowners' Insulation Handbook to learn more.