Sealing your attic can be a challenging and daunting task for the do-it-yourself person. The benefits will surely be worth the effort you put forth on this project. The ceiling between your attic and your living space is where most of the air leakage from your attic occurs. While your air conditioning is running during the summer, hot air is pulled down from the attic into your living area. During the winter when hot air rises, you lose the warmer air through these air leaks in your ceiling. We will take a look at where these leaks are and what to do to seal these energy-losing air leaks.
Most common location for attic leaks
- Behind and under knee walls
- Attic access
- Electrical wiring holes
- Pipe holes
- Recessed lights
- HVAC air closets
Behind all of your knee walls, stuff the cavities with insulation much the way that your exterior walls were insulated. A knee wall is a short wall usually under three feetÂ in height that is used to support the rafters in timber roof construction. (You can find images on the internet.) Most attic accesses are located inside the homeâ€”usually in a hall or back bedroom. Hot air escapes from the attic into the living area around the attic access door. You can purchase a cover that works really well when installed over your attic access. When you get ready to access your attic, it can be removed and replaced easily.
Another easy fix is to seal around the electrical wiring holes and all of your ceiling fans and lighting fixtures with good quality latex caulking and silicone.Â When you pull back the insulation from these fixtures, you can easily see the light from the living area below. Seal these cracks until you do not see any light coming through from the bottom. Recessed lights are some of the most costly lights you can have when it comes to energy loss. The more recessed lights you have, the more heat is pulled in from your attic into your living area. You can make small boxes from foam and place them over your recessed lights (on the attic side), and seal them with a sealer to solve this problem. Make sure that you build the boxes big enough to allow for plenty of room around the fixtures because this type of lighting fixture generates a lot of heat.
Check all of the pipes and exhaust ducts that are coming through your ceilings. You can seal these with a good silicone or caulk. If the cracks are too big to seal with caulking, you can purchase spray foam to fill them. Look into your HVAC closet and see if you can see your attic when you look up. If you can see your attic, you need to seal the top of this closet with insulation or plywood. This simple project can be accomplished in a single day.
If you take the time to follow these simple steps, your house will be more comfortable and your energy costs will go down. Your local HVAC contractor will be more than happy to help you accomplish this task to save you money.
Without a doubt, our attics are the hottest places in our homes. At times during the summer, attic temperatures can reach as high as 200Â° or more. No matter what steps you take to cool your home, without adequate ventilation in your attic, it can be a struggle to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in winter. In a sense, your home is alive and breathing much like we do. Let’s examine what I mean when I say that our homes are living and breathing. We will also consider natural ventilation and how it will help you save energy in a big way.
Science teaches us that hot air rises. It is this principle that makes natural ventilation work. Most of the heat that is generated in our attics hangs around in our attics; that is why attics are so hot. If there is no place for the hot air to escape, our houses will not start the breathing process. By breathing process, I mean hot air out and fresh air inâ€”without it, cooling our homes efficiently becomes very difficult.
The ac unit in your home does more than just cool your home. The ac unit also circulates air throughout your house. That is the reason for air returns and filters on the ac unit. If you turn your ac unit on and go to a closed room and feel at the bottom of the door, you will feel air being pulled from the room towards the fresh air return on your ac unit. The same principle applies when your ac unit pulls hot air down from your attic through holes, light sockets, and ceiling fans as well as other small cracks in and around your ceilings. This is the main reason we need our attics to be cooler.
- There are several ways to vent your attic and keep it cooler. There are natural vents that cost you no money at all to operate. These vents work from the natural movement of hot and cold air. There are many types of vents that operate using electricity and will do a great job of venting your attic. But the object here is to save money. You can use one of the following methods to vent your attic; the more you use, the better because all these types of vents work great together.
- Continuous ridge vents are located and installed at the peak of your roof. They are designed to let the hot air escape through the openings located at the very top of your roof. There will be about a 2â€ gap on each side of the ridge, and it will run the total length of your building. This will allow hot air to escape from your attic.
- Gable vents are located at the ends of your attic at the top of your gable ends. These vents will also allow hot air to escape from your attic.
- Whirly birds are vents that are installed close to the top of your roof. These are installed on the outside of your roof. When the wind blows, the turbines are turned, and it helps exhaust the hot air from your attic.
- Soffit vents are located at the bottom of your roof underneath the soffits. They are usually installed every 4â€™ around your house. These small but effective vents are very important because, when hot air leaves your attic, fresh air is pulled into your attic through these vents. This is where the â€œbreathingâ€ aspect of your home originates.
If you install these vents in your home, your attic will cool off several degrees, and your home will be easier to coolâ€”saving you money. Another benefit is that after these vents are installed, it costs you no money for them to operate. You will be cooling your attic with natural ventilation.
Time to Investigate
Do you know what is in your attic? The best time to climb into your attic to investigate is during the Â winter months. You will find that the unconditioned atticâ€™s temperature will be more bearable during winter than it will ever be during the summer months.
What You Might Find
If your home is built on a concrete pad foundation, you are going to find your heating and air ductwork in the attic. Ductwork is the veins and arteries of the air flow system that provides heated or cooled air to the living space in your home.Â Ductwork is sealed and is most likely wrapped in insulation in your attic. In older homes, ductwork can leak causing warm or cold air to escape into the attic before it reaches your living space.Â If your unit is working properly, but you are having issues heating or cooling your home, leaky ductwork may be the culprit.
A common cause of leaky ductwork is attic invasion. If you are hearing noises in your attic and your homeâ€™s temperature is not comfortable, you might have unwanted and uninvited guests living up there. Squirrels and raccoons are common attic invaders. Squirrels most often enter from the roofline during the end of winter to build new nests. They are known to damage ductwork and electrical wiring. However, the raccoons tend to wreak much more havoc by destroying insulation and all of the ductwork. These invaders must be removed by trapping and physically removing them, and then the damaged ductwork must be repaired by trained technicians.
January is the time for pest prevention in your attic. You should check for entry points and close them off with wire.Â Uncovered vents of any kind on the roof are perfect access points for squirrels. Wire is the best deterrent because the varmints cannot chew through it to make their own way inside. Once you have your attic pest-proof, you will be able to rest comfortably knowing that your ductwork and electrical wiring is safe.