Reduce, reuse, recycle. These three Rs of conservation work great to cut down on waste. What about attic insulation? We know we should never reduce the amount we have, but should old insulation be replaced? If so, how often should insulation be replaced? Find answers fast, right here!
Updating Versus Replacing
Your Twin Cities home may need to have its insulation updated, not replaced. Updating simply means adding insulation to the warm blanket you already have in the attic so you are up to the current recommended levels.
The federal Energy Star program provides insulation guidelines, with our region sitting solidly in Region 6, where an uninsulated attic should have R49 to R60 insulation added. Suppose you already have three to four inches of fluffy goodness; the Energy Star folks recommend an additional R38 to R49 on top of your current insulation.
Updating your insulation is very easy, especially if you have trained professionals perform the work. Your choice: cellulose or fiberglass insulation. To give your home R60 insulation will be a welcome update, no matter the existing insulation’s age.
Signs Saying Update Insulation
To know if updating your insulation will be a wise economic choice, look for these warning signs (they do not require a visit to the attic):
- High utility bills
- Drafty rooms or cold spots in your home
- Ice dams forming on the roof in winter
- Unwelcome pests leaving traces in the attic
- Moisture or mold issues developing in your living space
Suppose you feel safe climbing up into the attic. In this case, you can look for these signs your current insulation could benefit from professional, thorough new insulation as part of an overall updating project.
- Existing insulation has sagged, settled, shifted, or disintegrated. The paper backing can decay over time without ever getting wet. Cellulose insulation can break down.
- Insulation which is either at the height of the joists or just below them. Joists are the horizontal framing members which form the attic floor and your living space’s ceiling.
You want to be sure your existing insulation is largely intact, free of mold or mildew, and is relatively clean. In addition to updating the insulation with professional installation, an overall energy efficiency project can include a few easy steps you can do on your own:
- Check, repair, or replace all window and door weatherstripping
- Check, remove, and replace dried, cracked caulk around all windows, doors, and exterior joints (such as the joint between brickwork and siding)
- Replace door saddles or add door sweeps to reduce airflow
Signs Signalling Replacement
Sometimes insulation cannot be updated. It needs to be replaced to be effective. These signs signal your local, friendly insulation service will be doing more than topping off:
- Moldy. Any attic insulation displaying mold should rightly be handled by a mold remediation company, which can safely remove it without stirring up or spreading mold spores. Your roofer can then install all-new insulation.
- Wet. Existing insulation which has gotten wet and not dried within two or three days should be carefully removed and promptly replaced.
- Pests. Existing insulation with extensive animal use should be replaced.
- Leaks. Any attic insulation directly under an active roof leak, whether the insulation appears dry or not, has lost its insulative abilities and should be replaced.
When Do I Call?
If your Twin Cities home is cozy, dry, and warm all winter, your insulation is probably sufficient. You may want to be proactive before the heavy heating season sets in and get your attic insulation checked by your reliable and local insulation experts, so you can avoid worry.
Every 15 uneventful years or so, have the same helpful contractors recheck the attic or call earlier if you see any of the signs outlined above. At one time, thin layers of cellulose insulation were considered adequate; who can say definitely what the standard for energy efficiency will be in a decade and a half? The R60 may well need its own additional layer to keep your energy bills low.
Can’t I Do It?
Most homeowners are, to be polite, jacks of all house trades but masters of none. If you were unsure what “R” stood for in R49 and R60 insulation, you will benefit from getting highly trained insulation professionals to handle your inspections, updates, and replacements. R means “resistance to heat flow,” with higher numbers indicating higher resistance.
Home improvement stores thrive for two reasons: Homeowners repair something and then repair the damage they caused by their repair. An attic can be treacherous, and more than one homeowner has crashed a foot through a ceiling trying to walk along joists. If you have any doubts about your abilities, contact your local, helpful contractor.
Midwest Roofing, Siding & Windows is your local insulation expert. Contact us today to learn more about updating or replacing your attic insulation.