Tips For Working In The Attic And Sealing Air Leaks
Have a Plan in Place
The key to any successful home improvement project is adequate planning. Gather all your tools and supplies before you begin to minimize trips in and out of the attic. Be sure that the work area is well-lit by using a drop light, and keep a flashlight handy.
Prepare to Get Dirty
The entire process of sealing your attic will be made easier if you take the time and effort to wear the right gear. Wear knee pads to help prevent pain associated with crawling on attic joists. Additionally, a lightweight disposable coverall, gloves, and hat can keep itchy and irritating insulation off your skin.
Above All — Be Safe
Take precautions to avoid a dangerous working environment in the attic. During hot weather start working early, as attics heat up as the day moves on. Drink plenty of water and use an OSHA-approved particulate respirator or double-strap dust mask to prevent inhalation of hazardous substances. Also remember to watch your step. Walk on joists or truss chords, not exposed ceiling drywall or insulation. In addition, watch out for sharp nails sticking through the roof deck!
Plug the Big Holes First
Don’t worry about finding and sealing all the little holes in your attic; your biggest savings will come from plugging the large ones. Once in the attic, refer to your sketch to locate the areas where leakage is likely to be greatest: where walls (inner and outer) meet the attic floor, dropped soffits (dropped-ceiling areas), and behind or under attic kneewalls.
Look for dirty insulation — this indicates that air is moving through it. Dropped soffits may be filled or covered with insulation and hard to see. Push back the insulation and scoop it out of the soffits. You will place this insulation back over the soffit once the stud cavities have been plugged and the soffits covered.
If You Have a Finished Attic, Seal Behind the Kneewalls
Finished rooms built into attics often have open cavities in the floor framing under the side-walls or kneewalls. Even though insulation may be piled against or stuffed into these spaces, they can still leak air. Again, look for signs of dirty insulation to indicate air is moving through. You need to plug these cavities in order to stop air from traveling under the floor of the finished space.