Attic Insulation Can Positively Impact Floridians’ Home Comfort

Published on: December 22, 2014
Installing insulation | AC Southeast®

Boosting attic insulation is a home improvement project that could provide substantial benefits, especially if you choose the ideal type of insulation for your situation. If you feel up to the task, adding attic insulation is considered a moderately difficult do-it-yourself upgrade. Even if you’re not comfortable doing the work yourself, you can hire a qualified contractor to get the work done for you. Here’s what you need to know about attic insulation and its positive impact on Floridians’ home comfort.

Benefits of Attic Insulation

Combined with sealing the attic floor to reduce air infiltration, adding insulation to the attic can provide multiple benefits. First, it increases home comfort. If the upper floor in your home feels drafty in cooler weather or extra hot during Florida’s long cooling season, adding insulation could help. It also reduces hot and cold spots throughout your home.

Extra insulation also helps you save energy. With a thick blanket on top of your home, less of the air you pay to heat and cool escapes to the outside. Less energy waste means you spend less to keep your home comfortable all year round.

Choosing the Right Attic Insulation

When increasing the amount of insulation in the attic, you don’t have to use the same type that currently exists there. For example, you can add fiberglass batts or rolls on top of loose fill cellulose insulation or the other way around. Just make sure that if you use fiberglass on top of loose fill, the batts or rolls don’t have a paper or foil backing.

Loose fill insulation can cover your entire attic floor, including irregularly shaped or hard-to-reach spaces. If you choose this option, you probably want to hire a professional to complete the job because the insulation is blown into place with special equipment. If you’re an avid DIYer, you may be able to rent the necessary equipment from a home improvement store

Batt and roll insulation is the easiest if you’re set on a do-it-yourself job. The fiberglass comes in standardized dimensions to fit between joists and rafters that have been built to code.

Installing Attic Insulation

Before you begin, make sure you have the proper safety equipment to protect yourself during a DIY job. This includes safety glasses, gloves, a dust mask, lightweight coveralls, knee pads, flashlight, drop light and hard hat. Other important tools for the job include boards to walk on, a tape measure, sheet metal cutter, retractable utility knife, tape measure and your choice of insulation.

Check out the state of the insulation already installed. If you live in an older home, you may have vermiculite insulation, which could contain asbestos. This type of insulation is flaky, lightweight, pea-size and gray in color. Don’t touch the insulation unless you’ve had it tested by a lab and cleared as asbestos-free.

Start the installation project early in the day, since Florida attics heat up quickly as the day wears on. Walk only on joists, truss chords or the boards you bring with you into the attic to prevent falling through the ceiling.

If some insulation already exists between the floor joists, install more to cover the top of the joists and reduce heat transfer through the frame. If you choose fiberglass batts or rolls, install them perpendicular to the joists for the most effective coverage.

Look for fixtures, vents and recessed can lights penetrating the floor. Covering these with insulation could impair venting or even create a fire hazard. To prevent this, surround these penetrations with sheet metal or wire mesh. Some recessed lights are approved for insulation contact, or IC. In this case, a barrier is unnecessary. Look for the IC distinction before you install insulation around the can light.

When to Call a Pro for Help

While it’s possible for non-professionals to install attic insulation, you should consider calling a professional if you get into the attic and find it’s difficult to move around in or has little to no existing insulation. Some situations require an overhaul before you can add more insulation. For instance:

  • Wet insulation indicates the leaky roof needs to be fixed.
  • Moldy rafters point to a moisture problem that requires attention.
  • Bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans and dryer vents exhausting air into the attic must be redirected.
  • Knob and tube wiring from before 1930 is a fire hazard and needs to be replaced.

For more tips about installing attic insulation, or for help finding a reliable HVAC contractor to help, please contact AirConditioningSouthEast.com.