Attic insulation is like chocolate chip cookies — there’s always room for more. If you’re looking to lower your air conditioner bills, you’ve probably considered more insulation at some point. You may have even gone so far as to have someone come out and install it. Although insulation is a great way to get more bang out of your air conditioning buck, there are a lot of things that can go wrong during installation.
Whether you’ve had your insulation updated and you aren’t getting the benefit you expected, or you’re just looking toward the future, consider these common problems that can occur when insulation is added in Phoenix attics:
Blocked Attic Vents. Attic vents, especially soffit vents, are prone to blockage when new insulation is installed. No one wants to close up ventilation, but sometimes people simply neglect to protect vents. Install attic vent baffles before you put in new insulation to keep the fresh air flowing. In most existing homes, it is more efficient to add roof vents for proper attic ventilation. The best way to complete your attic efficiency is to make sure that your attic has proper ventilation. The insulation acts as a thermal barrier, but the heat and pressure in the attic must be able to escape to ale your attic energy efficient.
Poor Insulation Distribution. Blown insulation is notoriously difficult to get perfectly even. While a little irregularity is ok, very poor distribution is not. You can’t simply install from one central point — you’ll have to move from the back of the attic to the escape hatch to ensure even coverage.
Old Insulation Removal. Many people mistakenly think they need to remove the old insulation in their home before installing new. This couldn’t be further from the truth — as long as the insulation is still in good shape. Even if it’s a little dirty or beginning to settle, the extra R-value the old insulation provides will help bolster your new insulation — plus, you’ll save a ton in disposal fees.
Reversed Insulation Batts. In a properly insulated attic, the paper backing on the batts goes against the drywall. This is because the paper acts as a moisture barrier, protecting the insulation from any condensation that might occur in areas where temperature shifts are common. If you’re laying new batts over old, choose batts with no paper to prevent moisture issues in your insulation layers.
Missed Spaces. Sometimes, there are spaces in your attic that are hard to reach, or easy to overlook. Is there a room behind your garage that was never insulated or a tight spot over a room that always seems too hot? These areas need insulation as well, even if you have to limbo through the rafters to get to them. The job’s not always easy, but it’s always necessary. The most effective way to take care of areas in your attic that are not accessible or difficult to access is by adding roof vents. They will serve as a means of access and will enhance your ventilation.
Buried Problems. Bugs, rodents and other pests can destroy attic insulation by tearing it up and soiling it. These are problems that can’t simply be covered up — you’ll have to remove that insulation first. Not only can it harbor human-hungry pests, it can also cause the insulation to hold on to moisture and promote mold. It is best to have a pest control company take care of any of these issues, before moving forward with adding insulation.
Neglected Attic Hatches. Is your attic hatch nothing more than a plain piece of board? If so, it needs attention, too. Attic hatches are frequently overlooked areas where hot air can come into your home. Make sure you add a piece of batt insulation over the hatch and cut it wide enough that you’ll cover both the opening and the trim to prevent air leakage.
Uninsulated Knee Walls. Knee walls are found where a ceiling changes height — they’re especially common with tray ceilings and similar ceiling treatments. Some contractors neglect to install insulation in these walls or do so poorly, and it falls down over time. Any breach in the thermal barrier of your attic can create a huge air leak, so don’t miss these spots when the new insulation goes in.
Improperly Insulated Soffits. Like uninsulated knee walls, improperly insulated soffits create huge pockets of heat that leak into your house. With soffits, people often think they can simply lay the insulation over the top of the opening, which may work temporarily. Over time, however, the insulation sags or falls into the soffit, creating a huge opening in your barrier. Insulation should be in contact with each piece of drywall. Don’t cut corners when it comes to these areas.
Uninsulated Attic Platforms. Older homes are notorious for uninsulated or under-insulated attic platforms. When they were installed, people weren’t thinking about energy efficiency — they just wanted somewhere to stash their Christmas ornaments. But that neglect equals a house that’s hard to evenly cool. When you’re ready to install new insulation, check that your platforms are insulated and if they’re not, fill them from the top with blown-in insulation or remove the boards and lay batting underneath. It’s a big job, but it’ll pay dividends in the long run.
If you avoid these insulation pitfalls, you’ll fully benefit from the extra insulation installed in your Phoenix attic. The better and more complete your attic insulation coverage, the more comfortable your home will be on those super hot days, and the less work your air conditioner will have to do to keep up.
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