Finding the Right Material – On the House

Finding the Right Material

By on March 27, 2014
insulation with batts

Question

I am planning to insulate the ceiling of my condo which is located under the roof. Please help me making a decision by furnishing me with information regarding the best material and procedures, cost effectiveness and any other information that might be helpful. Thank you for your assistance.

Margarette

Answer

The addition of insulation to the attic above will certainly improve your living conditions while at the same time reduce your energy bill. Whether you elect to do-it-yourself or hire a licensed insulation contractor, check with PG&E first.PG&E always has some sort of energy program going that could save you big bucks. They also have several publications available that might help as well. If you are a senior citizen or in a low income bracket check with your county planning department to see if you qualify for an energy assistance program.

Naturally, the most cost effective method of insulating is to do-it-yourself, but be prepared to itch and scratch for days after. This is because the best insulation materials available today are made from spun fiberglass (very similar in nature to spun glass). The small fibers break easily, and no matter what protective clothing you wear, they will most certainly reach many parts of your skin before the job is over.

Two distinct types of insulation can be used — loose fill and batts. Loose fill insulation looks much like a clump of cotton balls. As with cotton balls the clumps of insulation you see are not attached to each other. This can be a draw-back because attics can sometimes be very windy inside. As air enters through the eaves of the attic and then leaves through the gable vents powerful air currents are created. The “wind” created very often will blow the insulation into piles in the center of the attic. This problem is supposedly resolved by the use of cardboard baffles at the attic side of each eave vent. The baffles are designed to redirect air in such a way as not to affect the insulation, but we don’t feel that they are fool proof enough.

Batt insulation is made from the same material as the loose fill insulation, but is fabricated into sheets where the fibers are intertwined and won’t blow apart. The insulation comes with a paper backing glued to it, and the paper backing is usually stapled to the framing members of walls or ceilings to help hold it in place. Actually, a secure installation in an attic can be achieved by simply laying the batts onto the attic floor (upper side of the ceiling).

Special attention should be given to plugging holes between the attic and the rooms below — like at heat registers and plumbing pipes. Expandable foam is better for this task than trying to fill the holes with clumps of insulation. If do-it-yourself isn’t in the cards contact a licensed insulation contractor. Look in the yellow pages under insulation contractors. Insulation is an inexpensive and effective way of reducing energy costs and improving comfort. Go for it, and good luck!

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