DIY Fall Maintenance Tip #3

A very important part of home maintenance is maintaining energy efficiency.  One of the most overlooked way homeowners lose energy is right through their roof. When thinking about winterizing our homes, many people consider the common areas like doors, windows, and other obviously drafty areas. It is important that we do not overlook our attic spaces as well.

Even if you do not have an attic access that allows you to use your attic area for storage, your attic should be still be accessible.  Even in older homes, there should be a peep-hole access cut away in the ceiling of at least one room. If you haven’t been in your attic space lately, now may be a good time to climb up there and take a look around. Maintenance inspection points are as follows:

  1. Venting – Every roof should have a venting system installed. If you have gable vents (vents on the sides of your home where the hot air escapes) ensure that these are not blocked  by stored items or boxes. Some gable vents have a fanned system that turns on automatically to blow out the warm air. If you have this type of fan, ensure it is functioning properly (not burnt out or unplugged). If you do not feel safe checking by yourself, please consult a professional.
  2. This would be a good time to look for evidence of small rodents also. If found, treat the area appropriately for removal.
  3. Insulation – attic insulation types and ratings vary from home to home, but the code requirement remains the same. The rating of insulation is characterized by an R-##. The higher the # is that follows the R, the higher your insulation factor is. Attic insulation in Knoxville should be a minimum of R-30 (old requirement – used in older homes) up to the new requirement of R-38. The type of insulation used is determined by the type of structure (finished, unfinished, or vaulted) and the desired insulation factor you are trying to achieve.
  • Insulation types include: Blanket (rolled or batts), Loose fill and  Blown-in, and Sprayed Foam and Foam-in-place. You may find any of these types or more than one in your attic space.
  • Insulation should be visible in an unfinished attic on the “floor” of the attic between the rafters. The insulation should not be mashed down or compacted in any way.
  • If your attic is partially finished (for storage access) spray foam or foam-in-place should have been used on the floors around walls and filling in larger cracks where heat could escape the living quarters of your home. Insulation should also be used on the walls between the studs. This area maybe covered or uncovered depending on the level of “finish” in your attic space. Also, all knee walls (vertical walls with attic space directly behind them) should be sealed and insulated.

If you have been advised or already know that you have blown in or loose fill insulation in your attics space, take a ruler or measuring tape  with you as you go to inspect. There are 3 common types of blown in or loose fill insulation that could be installed. Fiberglass, cellulose, or rock wool. If you have cellulose blown in insulation, you should have approximately 9″ of insulation covering the entire “flooring” area of your attic. 9″ of this type of insulation provides an R factor of R-32.4.  8″ only provides an R factor of R-28.8. To meet Knoxville code, the depth should be 10.6″ to meet the R-38 factor. If you have cellulose blown in insulation, you should have a minimum or 14-17″ of insulation on the “floor” of the attic to achieve the R-38 factor. If you have rock wool  blown in insulation, you need 11.5-13″ of insulation to achieve R-29 to R-33 factor.

Once you have determined if this DIY project is for you, purchase the insulation needed at a home improvement store and determine a day to do this project. If you are unsure this DIY project is for you personally to complete, please call a professional.

For assistance installing more insulation, inspecting your current insulation factor or for questions, feel free to call us at 865-200-9627 for more information.