How to Insulate an Attic Fan

An attic fan helps reduce energy costs, especially in hot summer or cold winter months.

Studies suggest as much as 90% of all household don’t have enough insulation. A well-ventilated attic will:

  1. Save you lots of money
  2. Improve comfort
  3. Balance overall air quality

In winter, a poorly insulated attic may allow hot air to seep into air leaks. Ongoing air leaks will make the attic colder. Cold air filtering into other rooms can make them drafty in winter.

In summer, heat can rise as much as 140˚F, and filter to other areas in the home. The situation will shoot up energy output since the air conditioning will have to work harder to make the rooms cool.

The benefits of Attic Insulation

Reduces moisture and trapped air

Air seals help improve airflow

Covers areas that allow voids to attract unwanted air

Do you need attic insulation?

Here’s what to look for:

  • Exposed ductwork over insulation layers
  • 10 inches or less existing insulation
  • Floor joists over or in-between existing attic insulation
  • Pockets of cold or hot air in rooms other than the attic
  • Increasing energy bills

How much insulation do you need?

To help bring your existing attic insulation up to mark, check with your local area to see what is allowed.

The amount of attic insulation depends on where you live. For southern dwellers, studies recommend you need between 13-14 inches of resistance to heat (R-38) of insulation.

If you live in the north, you’ll need between 16 to 18 inches (R-9) of insulation.

If you already have insulation:

  • Check for any problem areas in the attic
  • Seal off any air pockets to reduce drafts or leaks
  • Insulate and seal the ducts to reduce the loss of cool air in the ducts

Where to install attic insulation:

You can install insulation under the attic or on the attic floor. Some types of insulation include:

  • Fiberglass
  • Foam Boards
  • Foam Spray

Fiberglass:

Fiberglass is widely used and is fire-resistant. However, some studies show fiberglass may flatten and reduce the amount of R-value in the attic. Also, it may not always prevent air leaks in and out of the attic.

Spray Foam:

Spray or polyurethane sits between the rafters in the attic. It can raise the R-value flow and act as a shield for air and moisture.

Foam Boards:

You can purchase rigid foam in various thicknesses, sheets or panels. In the attic, foam board sheets can go in between or directly under the rafters or in both places.

Installing Fiberglass Insulation

You will need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Fiberglass insulation
  • Putty knife
  • Duct tape
  • Boards
  • Utility knife

Safety First

  1. Protect your arms and legs from fiberglass particles.
  1. Wear shirts with sleeves and long pants.
  1. A dusk mask will help protect you from breathing in the fibers.
  1. Be sure you are on firm footing when walking around the attic.
  1. Spread a few sheets of board or plywood to step on as you move around.
  1. Assemble all tools and materials close to hand.

Take your measurements

Multiply the total length and width of the attic area you need to insulate.

Match the total with the amount of resistance to heat (R-value) required for your area.

Staging the rolls

Lay the insulation rolls completely around the edges of the attic.

Connect the soffit baffles

Never cover the soffit vents during installation. Blocking the vents will reduce airflow in the attic.

Staple the soffit baffles directly to the base of the roof planking; under the rafters and above the vents.

Laying the insulation

  1. Start laying attic insulation from the farthest point in the space.
  1. Roll the material and cut it into the required lengths with a utility knife.
  1. At the end of each line, pull back the material, put it on a joist and create a flat cutting surface.
  1. Cut along the sides using a straight edge to guide you.
  1. When you finish the cut, roll the rest of the material in the opposite direction.
  1. At the end of the roll, join another roll back to the piece that is cut to complete the line.
  1. When you are done, cut the end of the roll and fit it into place.
  1. Make sure you fit each roll close together to reduce gaps and wastage in the insulation.

Troubleshooting

  • You will meet certain areas like open pipe or cross-braces.
  • Make a notch in the material and fit it snugly around the object.
  • Continue to roll out the other areas as normal.
  • For tight edges, follow the rolling out, but be careful not to force the material into the spaces.

It will minimize the resistance to heat value (R-value).

Installing around recessed lights

Allow at least 3 inches of attic insulation between the fixtures, provided the local standards approve your fixtures.

If insulation comes into contact with non-certified fixtures, it can cause a fire if the fixture overheats.

How to install foam attic insulation

Materials:

  • Drywall
  • Craft Knife
  • Fire-resistant panels
  • Goggles and gloves
  • Tape measure
  • Foam insulation boards
  • Handsaw
  • Construction glue
  • Vapor board sheets
  • Face mask
  • Furring strips

Foam boards can work on wooden or concrete walls. Some of the benefits of using foam insulation include:

  • Easy to install
  • Cheap
  • Light to handle
  1. Take out any bits of insulation you may already have. Be careful to take out the old boards with little or no damage to the attic walls.
  1. Join the foam boards to the support beams all around with caulking. Link the furring strips evenly along the attic walls.

Cutting the Board

Cut the boards based on your measurements. Be sure to fit each board closely between each furring strip.

Caulking

  • Place a strip of caulking along the side of each board.
  • Line up the board on the caulked side with the furring strip.
  • Press the board and strip together to seal off any gaps.
  • Caulk another piece of wood and fit it in place with the caulked side fitting into the side of the first caulked board.

After you complete the whole area, cover the foam boards with a vapor barrier plastic shield.

Place vapor barriers in all areas to reduce moisture between the batting and the roof.

Conclusion:

During the summer and winter months, attic heat can rise and fall dramatically and make it more unbearable if space is not insulated correctly.

In the summer, rising temperatures can cause your HVAC to work harder to regulate air flow in the attic and the rest of the home.

In the winter, poorly ventilated spaces can let in hot air through air leaks, that will allow drafts to come in and increase overall coldness.

Insulating your attic space helps improve and regulate air flow. It also helps reduce moisture and trapped air in the attic.  When you cover unprotected areas, it keeps out unwanted air.

Insulating the attic can balance overall air quality in the home.  It also saves you lots of money in energy costs, improves airflow, and enhances the comfort levels in the attic.

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