Air sealing an attic is a big job that’s not for the feint of heart. If you’re thinking about tackling one of the biggest home improvement jobs known to man, consider doing yourself a favor and going with spray foam insulation. Spray foam insulation does a better job getting into the cracks and crannies than regular fiberglass insulation and since you don’t want to repeat the job in the near future, you might as well go with the best material available. Read on to learn everything you need to know about air sealing your attic with spray foam insulation.
Make a plan!
The first thing you’ll need to do is make a plan. That means you’ll need to get up into your attic to address the situation and determine what all needs to be done. Every attic is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to air sealing.
Once you’ve gotten into the attic, take a look around. Do you see electrical wires, pipes or HVAC equipment running around? If the answer is yes, your job just got harder. It’s important to insulate around everything as best as you can, but in some cases you’ll want to leave things like wires accessible for future changes.
While you’re up there, look for drill holes in the walls used to run pipes and wires through. Make a mental note where the holes are. Also look for chimneys furnace flues and recessed lights in the ceiling below. These are the most common places for leaks and should get special attention.
While in the attic, pull back some of the existing insulation and look at it. If it’s black and dirty, you definitely have an air leak. Warm air traveling through the ceiling can carry dust that gets left behind in the insulation. That creates a small black or brown stain that indicates an air leak.
Air sealing an attic is a BIG job!
When you’ve addressed any trouble spot and made lists of areas that need extra attention, the next step is to air seal the wall plate around the perimeter of the attic. This is the hardest place to air seal because of the confined area. Start in the back corner of the attic and work your way towards the door.
Once that’s done, it’s time to look at top plates and electrical wires. Finding the top plates of interior walls shouldn’t be too difficult. Once you find them, remove the insulation and spray foam in its place. By now you’ve likely noticed wires running through some walls. Shoot a little spray foam in the hole to seal the crack around the wire. Keep moving around, inspecting interior walls for damage before continuing.
Light boxes are another place that air tends to escape. Whether you have recessed lighting or a pendant, you can bet that your light boxes are letting a lot of air escape. You can use spray foam or caulking to seal up the box.
Plumbing vent pipes are another air leak maker. The large holes required to house them lets a significant amount of air through. Seal around the pipes with spray foam insulation, adding more as needed to close the hole. Do the same for any large HVAC equipment you see like ductwork.
Count on the air sealing project to take several weeks whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. Air sealing the attic is a big project, but you’ll have a much nicer home and lower energy bills to show for it.
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