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  • All American Inspections

Is you attic well insulated?

Make sure your home is well insulated. Proper insulation can help lower your heating bill. One of the biggest culprits of a high heating bill is inadequate attic insulation.

Below are 10 attic insulation defects:

Missing Blown Attic Insulation - This is because so few attics over the past fifty years have been inspected after they are blown. During the past fifteen years, it’s rare to find attics with blown in insulation that meet the specified R-value.

Blown Insulation and Missing Rooms - Framing issues in certain homes prevent access for the installer to access a room. It can be easy for laundry rooms that are adjacent to garages that an installer assumed was part of an un-insulated garage to be missed. An installer should walk around a house before they blow it, so they don’t get disoriented up in the attic.

Kneewalls - A kneewall is a vertical wall between the house and the attic. Kneewalls typically occur where ceiling heights change, such as a vaulted ceiling to flat ceiling. Skylight wells would be another example of a kneewall. Temperature difference drives heat flow, so the rate of heat gain is greater from the attic than it is from the outdoors. Therefore, it is so important to have to kneewalls insulated correctly.

Fiberglass Batts & Dropped Soffits - What typically happens is that a fiberglass batt is laid over soffits at the ceiling line creating a large air space between the batt and the bottom of the dropped soffit. The fiberglass batts do not form an air barrier and they need to be in contact with the sheetrock. In homes with multiple ceiling heights, the insulation installers sometimes decide to run the fiberglass batts along the bottom chord of a truss even when the ceiling drops several feet below. An example would be a drop ceiling in a bathroom or closet. When the batt falls down to the ceiling below it creates a significant breach in the insulation system. When a ceiling height changes inside a house the proper way to insulate is to have the fiberglass batt follow the plane created by the sheetrock.

Open Chases - A smaller version of the dropped soffit is the open chase. Open chases are less frequent but can create significant problems. An open chase is best observed in the attic. It is a framed area that is not capped off and you can see down between the house walls, often all the way to the floor below. Ideally, the chase is capped in the attic with rigid insulation, sheet metal or plywood and then air sealed with foam or caulk, which prevents air leakage and eliminates the thermal bypass.

Misaligned Batts – When the batts are not in contact with the sheet rock and depending on the season either hot or cold attic air gets around the batts, which is referred to as thermal by-pass.

Attic Platforms & Walkways - In some attics it is not unusual to see platforms or walkways that lead from the attic access to the mechanical unit. These platforms are constructed so the heating and air conditioning technician can easily access the air handler. The issue with these platforms is that if batts are not installed underneath them or the installer blowing the attic fails to blow under the deck a thermal defect results.

Disrupted Insulation - While the insulation industry is responsible for a majority of the problems found in attics, there are others who go up into the attic to perform repairs or upgrade existing systems, often at the expense of the insulation system. Other subcontractors either may not realize the damage they are doing, or they simply don’t care.

There is often little regard for fiberglass batts. The batts make people itch, so after they move them away from where they are working, they don’t put the material back.

Uninsulated Attic Access - If the access into the attic is in a closet or another part of the house, it must be treated as an important part of the thermal envelope. To gain access to an attic often a piece of sheetrock needs to be moved away from the access point. It is important that a piece of fiberglass be physically attached to the back of this sheetrock with glue. If the batt is not secured to the back of the sheet rock, it is not unusual that it is not put back in place when someone has been up in the attic.

Insulation Blown Away from Soffits & Vents - Light density blown fiberglass insulation at a half pound per cubic foot can be blown away from both eve vents and/or tile roof vents on low pitched roofs. The result is exposed sheet rock, and this is the very thing you want to eliminate in an attic. Ideally in an attic with eave vents a baffle is used to prevent the air blowing through the vent and into the insulation.

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