Pros and Cons: A Guide To Choosing Attic Insulation Replacement

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Attic insulation is something that is a necessity for the welfare of your home. It is your home’s sweater in the winter and its fan in the summer. If your attic is happy, your home will be too. You may already know that your insulation needs replacement, or you’re wondering if that time is nearing. Either way, you’ll need to know which insulation is the best for your home. There are many variables when choosing the proper insulation for your attic, and we’ll cover all of them! 


When Should You Replace Your Insulation?

First, you need to know what type of insulation you have. Different insulations have different lifespans. If you don’t know whether your attic is ready for new insulation, here are some questions to answer:


  • What Is the Current Condition of Your Insulation? 

Take a look at your attic’s insulation. Do you see puddles, leaks, or condensation in your attic? Does your insulation appear wet, thin, shifting, deteriorating, or falling? With a high amount of moisture in your insulation, not only will it not be doing its job, but there is a high chance that mold could be present, which is dangerous to the health of your home and those who live there. Black spots on your insulation are the first indicator of mold.

  • Are there gaps or holes in your insulation? 

Rodents and other pests love insulation, especially the wrong kinds. An infestation is no joke. Suppose your attic suffers from rodents or other pests. Atticare, in San Leandro. In that case, California offers rodent proofing when you replace your insulation that prevents further infestation with a one-time non-toxic, pesticide-free solution that’s safe for children and pets.


  • What Does Your Energy Bill Look Like? 

If you’ve noticed an increase in the price of your energy bill, it may be time to look further into the matter. When your insulation isn’t doing what it should, temperatures in your home have difficulty stabilizing, which will cause your thermostat to work double-time, decreasing energy efficiency. 

Let’s Discuss “R” Values

Your thermostat is always working. It’s best to keep you and your family comfortable in your home. It strives to do its best to keep you warm through the winter and cool in the summer months. However, think again if you think it’s doing its job all by itself. Your thermostat has either a best friend or the worst enemy– your insulation

The term “R-value” refers to heat transfer resistance (R) from hot air to cold air. R-values measure the thermal resistance of a material of a specific thickness and its resistance to the transfer of heat across it. The higher the R-value of a material, the more effective it is as an insulator. While insulation contributes hugely to your home’s R-value, there are other things responsible. Gypsum board, siding, sheathing, and even empty air space also provide some R-value. Houses in cold climates should have a minimum of R-49 in the attic. Warmer temperatures only require an R-38 or higher.

And If you’re local to San Leandro, California, call us to find out what minimum R-values are required for your home. 

Choosing The Best Insulation

You’ve answered the questions above and learned about R-values. Now what? You’re probably asking yourself a new set of questions. What is the best type of insulation for your home? Does the environment of your home determine which insulation is better than the others? Which insulation is the most cost effective and energy efficient? A few types of insulation are generalized to be “the best,” but which is best for your home? 

Spray-Foam Insulation

There are two types of spray foam insulation: Open-cell and Closed-Cell. Open-cell spray foam can fill nearly any cavity but offers a lower R-value than closed-cell because it can be susceptible to moisture transfer. Closed-Cell foam creates a complete air, water, and vapor seal. 

Pros: Spray foam is the best choice in insulation when it comes to its effectiveness and can be applied to nearly any surface. It eliminates vapor barriers, as well as reduces sound transmission. 

Cons: Spray foam installation produces toxic gasses and must only be done by a professional with the proper equipment and safety gear. It often requires a specialized subcontractor and can be very costly. 


Rigid-Foam Insulation

Pros: Rigid foam is easy to install and comes in three primary forms; expanded or extruded polystyrene and polyisocyanurate. While this type of insulation does not quite reach the R-value levels that spray foam does, it comes close. Installing this type of insulation is much safer than spray foam and requires no special equipment or extra protection for workers. The price for this insulation resides somewhere in the middle of the cost bracket, making it the biggest bang for your buck. 

Cons: If foam insulation catches on fire, it burns rapidly and releases toxic gasses from the smoke, making a fire barrier necessary. Insects also are a common issue that foam insulation faces. 


Reflective Insulation

Pros: When you stand in the sun on a cold winter day, you feel radiant heat transmission from the sun even though the air temperature is cold, and vice-versa. Reflective insulation blocks radiant heat transmission, the transfer of electromagnetic radiation. Your roof constantly absorbs the sun’s heat, which transfers into the rest of your home. Installing reflective insulation or a radiant barrier reflects that heat away from your home, helping to reduce the indoor temperature and save on the cooling cost. Reflective insulation is excellent for warm climates, is easy to install, provides a vapor barrier, and does not decompress like other inexpensive insulation materials.  


Cons: Reflective insulation cannot work on its own in cold climates and is often added to rigid foam as a foil layer. As dirt and dust build up over time, reflective insulation depreciates its effectiveness. 


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