There are many types of homes in the USA. some of them do not have attics in them, instead, they might have small crawl spaces or none. While we should insulate any home, the way to approach this task differs from one kind of home to another.
Ceiling insulation will assure you that your energy bill will not go overboard. During the raining season months and months of winter, the warmth that you set your home for will remain without additional problems and will not escape through the ceiling.
However, any house has “more ceilings” than the one we all know where Santa lands his sleigh every Christmas. Each room has a ceiling and a floor. Each room in the house has an original purpose and a different need in terms of insulation.
So it does not matter where to start?
Yes, it matters. The first ceiling you should insulate is the one that covers all others. That is the rooftop of your home. The reason for this is that the rooftop of your house is the weakest link in the entire building. Through this point of entry or exit the warmth of the sun sifts into the house stealing it off its coolness during the hot months of summer or allows the warmth to escape in the raining months or winter.
Once you have successfully insulated the roof of your home, then you can proceed with the insulation of the other rooms in your home. It will depend on what you need for each one. Consider that not every room has the same needs and requirements.
For instance, the nursery might want to have a sound proof insulation that prevents the baby from waking up if the older kids play rugby indoors.
Along with this article, it is important to mention (as many times as necessary) that doing insulation on your own, while possible, should always be done with the proper precautions and considerations. That is having the needed protection, and getting the area read for insulation.
It is always easier for either a neophyte insulation in do-it-yourself or a seasoned one to work with an already prepared area rather than start on bits and pieces of the area. If you toss everything into the wind and proceed without the proper first steps, you could ruin all the work, which not only means that you have wasted all the money and time invested, but also could cause a serious spike in your energy bill.
If the worst happens, you could end up with structural damage in your rooftop or the foundations of the house. It is a worse-case scenario, but that does not mean it does not happen.
How to start?
Before starting to consider what is it you need to achieve by insulating your ceiling? Do you want to make sure that the indoor temperature stays like it is for a longer time? Do you want to reduce your energy bills? Perhaps you want to make sure that there is no moisture, water vapor, mold or mildew growth in the crawl space in your ceiling.
These are valid reasons, however if yours is not listed among these, your own decision and wish are also valid reasons to insulate your home.
Now that you have decided what you need the insulation to do for you; the time comes to seek what kind of insulation do you think you will benefit more from. To insulate a ceiling, you can use different types of insulation, from loose-fill to paper faced insulation. It all depends on what it is you want to accomplish.
If you are uncertain what kind of insulation to use, check the rest of the articles in this site or leave us a line or two. I will delight us to help you find the perfect insulation for your needs and home.
At this point you also need to be truthful about your safety and the availability for you to access properly the ceiling. If it is hard to access, if you need special equipment it might not be the best idea to do your own insulation.
This is the second step in the process. It is now the time to decide if you will go on forward and install the ceiling insulation yourself or are you going to hire a contractor or an assisting guide.
Consider that while using some insulation types you can have a process that will be seamless, there are still things that can become bumps in the road and that hinder the easiness of the process. In addition, it is not a task that will take a few hours. Always consider that this process, regardless if it is insulating your ceiling any other part of your home, will take several days.
Next, if your ceiling has a crawl space, if it has electrical connections, lamps or any other electrical installation (even the cable from your local cable tv company counts) you need to be sure that these are properly installed and insulated by themselves.
Electricity in faulty wires can cause short circuits that can cause a fire with an electrical origin. The problem with these types of fires is that they are not easily put out. They require more experience and resources and can consume a lot more surface/areas before being extinguished.
The same applies if you have water or drainage installations in the attic. For all practical purposes, if you have any installations or cables running to and from your home through the ceiling, crawl space or attic, it is important to check them before starting with the insulation work.
Keeping the number of a trusted insulation contractor, salesperson or even your favorite insulation manufacturing company is an excellent idea as they might help you out if at any point you face problems or bumps along the road.
Consultation is a tool that will come in handy not only during the installation process but also if accidents should happen. This is a step that, while it has little influence in the actual installation, is a process that I would not suggest you skip.
Preparation is the next step in the doing process for insulation installation. While the installations in the ceiling, surrounding areas, attic or crawl space have been revised and corrected if needed. Now is the time to clean and make any other changes, modifications or corrections that need to be done before starting the insulation process.
Also take this moment to remove any fixtures, furniture and other movable objects that can become an obstacle when installing your chosen insulation.
If during the planning or the thinking stage you notice that in the ceiling or its surrounding area there is the unmistakable smell of mold or mildew, then it is now the time to have it corrected. Correcting problems of mold or mildew might take the longest time in the overall plan of insulating your ceiling. However, it is the best way to ensure that, at a later date, you will not be facing structural damages or health problems for you or your loved ones.
Do not correct the mold, mildew or water vapor related problems by yourself. Doing this on your own without the experience or the proper equipment will only cause a bigger problem and will not solve the matter at hand.
All the previous steps are connected between them. When you are checking the installations (water, electricity) of your home through the ceiling, it is also a splendid opportunity to see if there are any additional repairs that need to be done. One of the most common ones is wood replacement of the beams that support the ceiling itself.
What if I already have an insulated ceiling?
Sometimes homes have insulated ceilings already. It is always an outstanding idea to check the state of the already installed insulation every so often. Preferably with the change of the season. The reason for this is that in order to be efficient in checking whether there is a water leak from the ceiling onto the insulation, the raining season is the best time.
To ensure that there is no vapor condensation in the insulation, then the period of autumn and winter are ideal. It is during those times when you can verify if the heat from the home clashes with frigid air sifting through, causing water vapor or condensation to create.
During the months of spring is the perfect time to see if there is a problem with any potential condensation created during the months of winter. If so, you will see mold or mildew growing in the insulation and/or the house foundation structures.
Another thing to consider when you do all the preparations for insulating your home is to remove any of the old insulation that may linger in our home. Setting new insulation on top of the old insulation will cause problems as the fresh one will not hold properly and can easily come down or peel off the place whether it has been set up.
However, it is interesting to know that there is a difference of opinions regarding whether there should be a removal of existing insulation prior to installing new insulation. For many experts, there is actually no proper reason for the old insulation to be removed. These experts consider that, for the do-it-yourself homeowner, using the previously installed insulation gives them proper blueprints so-to-speak much like a paint-by-numbers project.
The opposing opinion states that, since the insulation has a viable life expectancy of 8 years, keeping it longer will only cause the insulation to degrade and that will give the new insulation an unsteady foundation. As I have mentioned earlier, it is expected for the new foundation to slip off and crumble if applied over old insulation.
Whether you decide to follow one approach or the other, something is for sure. The state of the previous insulation is what will give you the guideline to follow the first train of thought. If the already installed insulation is:
- Has an appearance change, it can look like old cotton or worn out wool
- Has a structural change it could slip or look shaggy
- Smell funny or unpleasant
If you notice one or more of the previous changes, then you should NOT use the old insulation as a blueprint and install the new one on top of it. Depending on the type of change you might need to call a contractor, a plumber or a mold remediation crew to help you clean and clarify before re-insulating.
Materials and equipment to have.
- Vapor barrier. This will come in handy, mostly. If your chosen insulation material does not come paper faced, then you might choose to use a polyethylene sheet.
- Air seal. This is a complement to the vapor barrier. This will prevent any vapor that escapes from the home to not condensate.
- Weather strip. This is a complement to the Air Seal, Just like the previous, it will prevent the frosty air of the environment from sifting into the house and condensate with any vapor that escapes.
- Security equipment. Do not forget gloves, goggles and the air breathing masks. Even if you choose not to use loose-fill insulation, it is important to be fully protected.