Why You Should Insulate Your Crawl Spaces

why you should insulate your crawl spaces

Insulation is a key player in your home’s energy system. Sufficient, geo-specific insulation can reduce your home’s energy spending because it reduces heating/cooling costs. When you consider that 40% to 70% of a home’s energy consumption is directed towards heating/cooling – air sealing and insulation becomes a significant priority.

Crawl Spaces Need Insulation Too

Most people understand the need for insulation in the attic and exterior wall spaces, but they often forget that insulation is necessary for crawls spaces as well. These wide-open spaces – many of which are ventilated – can act like heating/cooling vacuums when they aren’t adequately insulated.

There’s another reason why crawls spaces require insulation: moisture control. Many crawl spaces are susceptible to the moisture or condensation that occurs due to fluctuations in temperature and humidity – or water that collects below and around the foundation. If your ventilated crawl spaces are insulated but don’t have the right moisture barrier in place, they provide the perfect environment for mold, compromising your home’s structural integrity and negatively impacting indoor air quality.

If your home was built before the 1990s, we can almost guarantee your crawl spaces require an insulation upgrade if one hasn’t been done already. If you live in a home that is 20-years old or less, it’s still worth a peek underneath the house and any additional crawlspaces to establish whether your crawl spaces are insulated or not.

Signs Your Crawl Space Insulation Needs to be Replaced

Here are some of the most common signs indicating the insulation in crawl spaces and other locations needs replacing or an update:

  • Your heater is on, but your feet are cold
  • Energy bills are going up – even though you’re HVAC is regularly maintained, and your thermostat settings haven’t changed
  • Humidity levels are going up
  • Evidence of mold
  • You’ve taken a peek and notices it looks flat, shredded, spotty or dilapidated
  • There is evidence of water or pest damage
  • Odd drafts in your home that don’t seem to align with window and doors
  • You know the insulation pre-dates 1990

Any of these signs mean it’s time to schedule an inspection from a licensed, insulation contractor who can let you know what – if any – crawlspace insulation modifications are necessary.

There’s a Difference Between Ventilated and Non-Ventilated Crawl Spaces

Not all crawl spaces are created equal, and knowing what you’re dealing with ensures you insulate them correctly.

Insulating ventilated crawl spaces or subfloor crawlspaces

Some are ventilated, which means they’re vulnerable to moisture and are typically found underneath the floor of your home. In addition to the insulation, you’ll want to seal any gaps or air leaks from electrical, plumbing, venting, or other penetrations in the subflooring. As long as you’re underneath the house – or in the crawlspaces – use the opportunity to insulate air ducts and plumbing pipes to further optimize efficiency.

Then, install a vapor (moisture) barrier between the exterior and interior crawl space surface, before adding the insulation, to keep inevitable moisture from seeping through.

Non-ventilated crawl spaces

If a crawl space isn’t ventilated, you’ll only need to insulate the walls, rather than the subfloor above.

Additional Tips for Professional-Quality Crawl Space Insulation

Here are additional tips for obtaining professional-quality crawl space insulation:

  • Use a licensed insulation contractor. Hiring a licensed insulation contractor with a reputable reputation ensures the job is done thoroughly and complies with current energy efficiency/building codes and guidelines for the Bay Area climate.
  • Eliminate any water or moisture. If there is water or moisture evident, eliminate it and/or dry the space completely before proceeding. SmartPipe Systems, crawl space-specific sump pumps, and drainage matting designed for dirt floor crawl spaces are all helpful for keeping the bulk of underground water or moisture from accumulating in the space.
  • Install water- and mold-proof insulation. Fiberglass insulation batts are still a standard because they’re the most affordable in terms of first-time costs. However, if moisture is at all an issue, invest in higher-quality, water-resistant insulation options, such as spray foam, ridge board or cellulose. These products are more durable and efficient – which means they’ll save money in the long run.
  • Address any maintenance issues you notice. If there are signs of structural damage or obvious repairs, stop and address those first.

DIY Insulation Jobs Are Not The Ideal

While insulation can be installed in DIY fashion, it’s not recommended. Firstly, insulating attics, walls and crawl spaces isn’t an easy task, and it takes non-professional contractors far longer that blogs or YouTube videos may indicate. Replacing insulation also requires a level of agility and physical ability (not to mention tolerance for small, enclosed spaces) that a DIYer may not have or be able to sustain. You may wind up spending money – and hours – attempting the feat, only to cease the project and hire a professional anyway.

Installing crawl space insulation also requires protective gear, finesse, and specialized equipment to help the work go smoothly, and to not make a mess. Finally, with a home repair as essential to whole-home energy efficiency, moisture control and indoor air quality as updated insulation is – it’s essential that the job is done right. Otherwise, all that time, energy and cost will have been wasted.

Would you like to schedule an insulation inspection with a licensed, Bay Area insulation contractor? Contact us here at Attic Solutions to schedule a free estimate.

mold in air ducts

The Hidden Dangers Lurking In Your Air Ducts

Are you a neat freak? Do you clean the house on a regular basis?

Keep at it—that’s actually a great thing! After all, dust and debris can easily trigger coughing, sneezing, and other symptoms.

Don’t just clean the floors and call it a day, though—there are other areas that you be cleaning as well. Take the air ducts, for instance, allergens can easily build up, which can make you sick.

Mold in air ducts is an issue as well. As you can imagine, that can significantly impact your health in various ways.

But wait, how can you tell if your ducts need cleaning? Want to know? Then be sure to read the rest of the post—we’ll be going over everything that you need to know below!

How Often Should You Clean Your Air Ducts?

As a general rule, you should clean your air ducts every three to five years. Why? That’s how long it takes for the ducts to fill up with grime after a thorough cleaning.

Keep in mind, however, that this time frame does not apply to everyone. How often you need air duct cleaning will depend on various factors such as how often you use the HVAC system and where you live.

Do you or someone else in the house have asthma or allergies? If so, that’s another reason why you should clean the vents more frequently.

How Can You Tell If Your Air Duct Needs Cleaning?

You can tell whether or not your ducts need cleaning by looking at them. Is there any noticeable debris on the outside? Are there “poofs” of dust near the vents?

If so, you’re probably overdue for a cleaning.

It’s also a good idea to clean them if you notice a vermin infestation. After all, the critters may be entering and exiting through the ductwork.

Mold in Air Ducts: Why It’s a Problem

Mold is a common issue with air ducts. This makes sense when you think about it—after all, condensation easily forms along the vents (more on this later).

As it is, this poses a major health risk. For one thing, it can lead to various symptoms such as sneezing, cough, and watery eyes.

There’s also toxic black mold to worry about. As implied by its name, this variety releases toxic spores that can be detrimental to our health. In severe cases, it can cause nausea, vomiting, chronic fatigue, and persistent headaches.

The worst part is that the spores can easily spread to other areas of the home via the ducts!

What Causes Mold to Form in the Air Vents?

It’s not uncommon for mold to grow in your HVAC system. After all, there’s plenty of moisture and condensation.

For instance, water vapor from the air conditioning can easily make its way inside the vents. Assuming that humidity levels are high, the moisture will not be able to evaporate—instead, it will stay in the ducts.

As you can imagine, that would facilitate mold growth. Over time, the colony will grow bigger and bigger as it feeds off organic materials.

How to Tell If There’s Mold In the Air Ducts

Assuming that there’s mold in your air ducts, the first thing that you’ll probably notice is a pungent odor—something that resembles old gym clothes. It’s hard to miss!

You can also tell by checking for visual signs. Grab a flashlight and peer inside the vents. Do you notice any irregular splotches? If so, it’s probably mold.

In severe cases, mold can grow outside the ducts and onto the wall. If that’s the case, call a professional right away as the problem may be too difficult for you to handle yourself!

Last but not least, examine the vents for standing water. Remember, mold thrives on humidity—if there’s moisture in the ducts, chances are, there’s mold somewhere.

What to Do If You Suspect Mold

It can be quite challenging to remove mold from air vents. For one thing, you can easily inhale the spores when you’re doing the cleaning!

Given that the infestation is mild, however, it is possible to remove the mold yourself. Most of the products that you’ll need can be found at your local home improvement store.

Generally speaking, however, it’s much better to just call in a professional—they’ll be able to remove the mold from your home quickly and safely.

Other Contaminants in Air Ducts

Aside from mold, other contaminants can build up in your ductwork. Take dust and dirt, for instance—these particles can easily become airborne. In other words, there’s a great chance that they can get sucked into the ducts!

Another thing that can accumulate is dander. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a material that’s shed from the body of humans and animals. In large amounts, it can exacerbate allergies and other respiratory conditions.

There’s also a chance of pests in air ducts. After all, the vents are a conduit for warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer—that makes them the perfect nesting spot for critters!

Keeping Your Air Ducts Clean

Hopefully, that gives you a better idea as to why mold in air ducts is an issue.

When in doubt, call in a pro—they’ll be able to identify and solve the problem for you! Remember, your health is worth it.

Need some help in the Oakland area? Feel free to contact us for a free quote!

signs that its time to replace your insulation

Signs That It’s Time To Replace Your Insulation

The insulation in your crawl space and attic serve a very specific purpose. It works to slow the transfer of heat into your house when it’s warm, and out of your house when it’s cold.

When your insulation isn’t working properly, your energy costs are bound to go up. Insulation can save up to 11% on your home’s energy costs. It may not seem like much, but that amount can add up to significant savings over time.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your insulation is working well. If not, it’s time for an insulation replacement.

Is It Time For Insulation Replacement?

How can you tell that it’s time for an insulation replacement? Read on to find out.

Look at your energy bills

The first thing to do is to take a look at your energy bills. Have you noticed a big jump in cooling or heating costs?

That’s a sign that something is amiss in your home. Energy could be escaping through the insulation in your attic or crawl space. There could also be energy leaks in windows and doors.

If you notice that your energy costs are out of line, conduct an energy audit where you examine the insulation in your home, along with other areas of the home that can be vulnerable to energy leaks.

Bugs and other creatures

Your insulation can be a host for many types of unwanted creatures in your home. You can have any types of bugs or critters living in the insulation and not even be aware of it.

That’s why you want to inspect your insulation regularly. These pests can get into the small spaces of your home and raise a family of critters.

That can turn into a pest infestation, which can turn into a health hazard. These pests can leave behind urine and feces which can get into the air of the home.

You can have a team of professionals inspect the insulation, deal with the pest hazard, and then replace your insulation.

Strange drafts in your home

Have you ever walked into a room in your home to find that it’s much cooler than other rooms? Like there’s a draft in the room?

That is a sure sign of insulation failure. The way that insulation works are that it provides a buffer between the air inside your home and the air outside of your home. Insulation that’s failing can limit that buffer of air.

When that buffer no longer exists, it’s easy for cool or warm air to blow inside your home, which will create that draft.

Moisture in the attic or crawl space

Moisture inside your home can lead to a tremendous amount of issues. Bacteria like mold and mildew thrive in these wet environments, and they can lead to health issues. Wet insulation is the perfect place for mold to grow, too.

That can turn into a health hazard, leading to respiratory issues and impact the overall air quality inside your home. If your home or parts of your home smell like mold or mildew, inspect your attic and crawlspace insulation right away.

Not only that, wet insulation is a bad thing for your home. Insulation that’s wet will break down and deteriorate much faster. Insulation works because it traps air in the tiny crevices and air pockets. If these pockets are trapping water instead of air, the insulation won’t work.

Take a look at the insulation itself for signs of water damage. You’ll also want to check other areas around your home, such as your roof and ceilings. You’ll need to schedule an insulation replacement immediately if you suspect that the insulation has become wet.

Age of insulation in the home

Do you know when the last time your insulation was replaced? Insulation is built to last, but it doesn’t mean that it always does.

Many manufacturers will say that insulation will last for 100 years or for the life of the building. That’s enough to let you breathe a sigh of relief. However, just because the insulation is built to last for 100 years, doesn’t mean that it’s in proper working order.

You want to make sure that the insulation in your home doesn’t compact down over time. It needs to be “fluffy” so there are many crevices and air pockets to trap air. If it doesn’t, then it simply won’t work. That will create drafts in the home.

You also have to factor in technology. Older insulation simply wasn’t made with the same technological advances that you’ll get with today’s insulation. That means that insulation that was made today is more durable and energy efficient than what was produced 10 or 20 years ago.

How To Replace Insulation In Your Home

Now that you know that it’s time for an insulation replacement, how do you start? You have a couple of options. You can go the DIY route, or you can hire professionals to handle the job.

A professional company can handle just about any situation whether that’s pest infestation, insulation removal, and installation.

Going the DIY route would require that you know how to remove and dispose of insulation in a safe manner.

Time For An Insulation Replacement

The level of comfort you feel inside your home depends largely on the insulation in your attic and crawlspaces. If the insulation is breaking down or hosting unwanted guests, then your energy bills can go up while the level of comfort goes down.

It’s time for an insulation replacement when you notice certain rooms are colder or warmer than others, the insulation is full of pests or is wet.

If you know that you need to get your insulation replaced in the Bay Area, we’re here to help. Contact us today for a free quote.

California insects

Which California Insects Are Most Likely to Bug You This Summer?

Along with the hordes of tourists and the Pacific coast breezes come the summer insects to the Bay Area. You can find these pests crawling up buildings, walking down the sidewalk, or marching around your kitchen.

These creepy crawlies live in your yard, gardens, up in your trees and inside your home. So, what can you do about California insects that could damage your foliage and the structure of your home?

Read more to find out which common insects live in the Bay Area. Once you know how to recognize these pests, you can decide how to get rid of them.

Ants

Ants invade your home during summer droughts looking for a cool habitat. This usually happens during August and September. Four of the most common Bay Area ants include:

Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile)

These ants are a real problem for homeowners. They’re an aggressive species that don’t have natural enemies. They’ve wiped out many native ants and invade homes all the time.

Unlike other ants, Argentine ants have several queens so it’s hard to kill the colonies.

Black Carpenter Ants (Camponotus quercicola)

These large ants can be black, light brown, rust, of red and black. They love building nests in tunnels they carve into the damp wood of your home.

This causes structural damage to your house. They’re most active from late afternoon through the night.

Thief Ants (Solenopsis molesta)

As you can see from their name, these ants steal the food and larvae from other ant nests. They’re also called grease ants because they feast on grease, dead bugs and even dead rodents.

They’re tiny insects, which lets them get into your packaged foods. If you check behind your baseboards or in empty cabinet spaces, you might see their nests. They also live under rocks and in old wood.

Odorous House Ants (Tapinoma sessile)

If you ever squashed one of these ants, you know why they’re named odorous house ants. The odor they give off smells like rotten coconuts.

These tiny ants invade your home after heavy rains. They march in lines and if you disturb them, they release their odor.

It’s hard to get rid of them because they move their nests every few weeks. If they’re inside your house, they nest in your insulation, window frames and walls.

They love sweets, especially fruit juice, cakes, cookies and pastries.

Bees and Wasps

The Bay Area has about 90 different bee species. The following list names the bees and wasps that torment you on summer days.

Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

The most common bee is the Honey Bee. They prefer to nest in hollow tree trunks, but they will also nest in empty wall space.

They also mind their own business unless you bother them. Honeybees only sting as a last resort and won’t chase you. They can only sting once and then they die.

California Yellow Jacket (Vespula sulphurea)

When you’re enjoying an outdoor picnic, yellow jackets might scare you off and start munching on your goodies. Most likely, your first thought is that they’re bees. But, yellow jackets are actually wasps.

In the spring, they eat insects so they can give protein to growing larvae from their colonies. As the summer progresses, they change their diet to include sugars.

This is why you see them around garbage cans and outdoor food sources, like your picnic. If you have a nest of yellow jackets in your yard, it can be a real problem.

One colony can have thousands of wasps that defend their nests aggressively. They’re quick to respond and will attack you and chase you for a long time. If they catch you, they can sting multiple times because their stinger is barbless.

Even sounds can trigger them to attack. For example, the vibration from a lawnmower or hedge clippers will make them attack you.

Mosquitoes

The San Francisco Bay Area is famous for its rainy winters. The problem is when it heats up in the summer, the annoying mosquitoes hatch and breed in leftover stagnant water. Sometimes, there are so many mosquitoes, it’s impossible to stay outside.

Northern House Mosquito (Culex pipiens)

These mosquitoes are very active from May to November. They breed in rainwater that collects in your gutters, outdoor containers, puddles and any other water source. Some mosquitoes can breed in only a capful of water.

Thousands of mosquitoes can hatch in stagnant water. Once hatched, they travel up to two miles looking for a bloody feast. They’re attracted to body heat, body odor and breathing.

These nasty summer insects carry diseases from infected animals to humans. If you go out at dusk or at night, try to wear long sleeve shirts and long pants to protect yourself from bites and disease.

Fleas

Even if you don’t have a pet, you can still have a flea infestation in your home. The heat of summer is the prime time for fleas to breed.

They can enter your home on rodents living in your attic or in your walls, such as rats, mice and squirrels.

Fleas carry diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, tapeworms and bacterial infections. They breed quickly, and their tough skin makes them hard to eliminate.

Many times, you won’t know fleas live in your house until you go away for a few days. When you come home, you open the door and all of a sudden, your legs are covered in fleas.

They breed in hot, closed up areas. When their eggs hatch, the tiny worms hide in your carpet fibers, couch cushions and mattresses. It can take up to four weeks for the pupae to hatch into a flea.

House and Yard California Insects

The Bay Area attracts many species of California insects from attractive butterflies and dragonflies to destructive household pests. Knowing how to recognize them can help you keep these common insects under control.

Contact us for more information on how to keep your home free from California pests.

household pests

House of Horrors: The Top 10 Household Pests That Can Wreak Havoc in Your Life

Which household pests are notorious for torturing home dwellers? Click here to find out the top 10 household pests that are known for wreaking havoc!

1. Rats and Mice Are Some of the Worst Household Pests

Having an infestation of rats or mice in your home can be some of the most damaging pests in the house and poor for your health. If you get rats or mice inside your house they will make themselves at home and explore your kitchen looking for food all the while leaving urine droplets and feces everywhere. These pests can produce 25,000 to 36,000 droppings per year, and these droppings can contain bacteria and viruses, such as salmonella, spreading it all over your kitchen. 

In addition to the health concerns, rats and mice also are known for ruining the structural integrity of your home by chewing through wiring, damaging and contaminating your insulation, and making holes to come and go from the outside. These critters will also nest and breed at alarming rates making the problem worse with time. 

2. Termites

Termites can cause extensive structural damage to your home. These pests feed on wood all hours of the day which means if you have an infestation, you are soon to have a major problem. Termites will also feast on paper, books, and insulation, they have also been known to do damage to swimming pool liners and water filtration systems. If they are in your home, they are likely also living in the trees, shrubs, and bushes that surround your property. 

Termites can be very difficult to get rid of and are best handled by a professional who is well versed in what is needed to treat and prevent further damage to your home. 

3. Ants 

Ants can be quite a nuisance to the homeowner, while they are not structurally damaging these pests are frustrating to find inside your home. If you find a trail of black ants heading somewhere, follow their path and see if you can figure out where they are going and where they came from. Black ants will have the main colony where the queen dwells, the worker ants head out and find food to bring back to the queen. While they are exploring they will leave a chemical trail for their fellows to follow to the food and back. 

In order to get rid of these pests in the house, place an ant bait along the trail so that the ants bring the poison back to the colony and kill the queen. Be sure to leave the bait there for an extended time because it may take longer than expected to kill the queen, especially if there is more than one. Of course, there is a chance that the colony is inside the walls of your home, or there may be more than one. Seek out the opinion of a professional if your attempts haven’t eradicated these common pests.   

4. Bed Bugs

Bed bugs had been absent from the United States and were only really known from the common nighttime phrase “good night and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Unfortunately, after some 50 years of being absent, they have been reintroduced from foreign travel and immigration. Now, these pests who like to infest bedding, mattresses, clothing, and soft furniture are on the rise and feed on the blood of people and pets. 

5. Cockroaches

These pests that live in your house are both disgusting and unhealthy. They are known to shed their skin and leave their feces which can contain allergens and pathogens.

People who live with an infestation may suffer from allergies and asthma due to inhaling their leavings.  

6. Fleas

Fleas are a small biting pest that lives outside and is often brought into your home either on your clothing or your pets. These pests in the house can quickly become out of control by getting into a cycle of laying eggs at an alarming rate and taking over your carpets, bedding, pets, and even yourselves.

These annoying pests are luckily easy to get rid of, but you have to keep up with treating your pets and your carpets routinely. 

7. Bees

If a bee colony claims your home as theirs, it can quickly become an expensive problem. Within just a few days of arriving, roughly 30,000 bees can quickly take over, creating a sizable hive full of wax, honey, and propolis.

The colony must be expertly handled and removed and not killed off with insecticide as this hive will begin to ferment and leak honey and wax, attracting other insects, and rodents. 

8. Wasps

Wasps can be a scary pest to have around your house because they are often times territorial and aggressive. Typically they like to nest up under a covered awning or roof and will continue to grow the size of the nest and laying eggs. The wasps will protect their nests from danger by stinging anyone who comes in the area. This is particularly a problem if they make their home near the entrance to your home, your garage, or patios.

The stings from a wasp are very painful and some may experience an allergic reaction to it. 

9. Flies

Having a fly problem is harmful to your health. Flies are known to carry and transmit diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, and other diseases related to food poisonings such as salmonella or E. coli. 

If you have a small fly problem, it can quickly become a much bigger problem as the eggs can mature to adulthood in just a week. 

10. Spiders

Spiders are useful in eating and controlling other common pests, but nobody wants to see them in their homes. These pests are often feared and evoke more damage psychologically then they do physically, however some species are poisonous if they bite. 

Spider webs are also a nuisance to deal with and are an unsightly feature inside your home.  

Do You Need Help Getting Rid of Pests in the House?

If you are experiencing trouble with one of these household pests and need some professional help to remove them, please visit our website and contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

 

how to remove blown in insulation

How to Remove Blown in Insulation from Your Attic in 8 Easy Steps

How old is the insulation in your attic?

Insulation plays a key role in keeping your home or commercial property running as efficiently as possible. 

If your space isn’t heating as well as it once did, it’s time to replace your insulation.
Yet, it’s not as simple as it sounds. 

Read on to learn more about how to remove blown in insulation and why you might want to let a professional do the job.

Why Remove Blown-In Insulation?

You’ve noticed that your insulation isn’t doing its job anymore and realize it’s time for a change. 

Why can’t you add to the insulation that’s already there?

Common reasons for replacing insulation are mold issues, wildlife damage, and the decision to finish an attic space.

Animals such as mice, raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and more can invade your attic and tear up your insulation. Their feces and urine will reduce your air quality and they could contaminate your insulation with mites, fleas, and ticks.

If your attic has suffered water damage from a burst pipe or a roof leak, mold will start growing fast. As blown in insulation sits tight up against wet wood and drywall it creates the perfect environment for mold growth.

How to Remove Blown-In Insulation

So, you’ve decided to tackle the project of removing your old insulation. Where do you start?

Inspect the Insulation

There are several different types of insulation, so you should first identify the type you have in your attic.

Blown in insulation is often made up of small particles of foam or fiber, but it is also made of other materials. These particles are so small that they can be sprayed and conform to any space, creating a tight seal.

Blown in insulation is popular in spaces where it would be difficult to install insulation using other methods.

If your structure is older, it may contain asbestos insulation. There are test kits available to test for asbestos. If you are unsure if asbestos is present, you should hire a professional.

Gather the Right Equipment

Gather your equipment and get organized before removing any insulation.

You should have protective gear for yourself, including gloves, goggles, long sleeves, pants, and a respirator. You do not want old insulation to get inside of your lungs.

To dispose of old insulation, you will need plenty of garbage bags. You’ll also need a tarp to place underneath the bags as you fill them.

Finally, set your ladder in place and have your wet/dry or HEPA vacuum handy.

Protect Your Space

Ensure that all doors and openings that lead to your living or work space are closed. You do not want contaminants traveling through the air and settling where they can be ingested by you or other people.

Create Your Workspace

Since blown in insulation is usually found in older structures, the floor is not always a safe place. 

If necessary, reinforce the floor with wooden planks across the floor joists. This will give you a safe and steady area to walk on.

Set Up Tarp and Trashbags

You’ll want to set up your disposal area first so that you aren’t struggling when your arms are full of old insulation. It is imperative that all old insulation be disposed of quickly and neatly to reduce the number of contaminants in the air.

Put your tarp outside on the ground, wherever you want your garage bags to end up. You’ll want to keep the bags on the tarp as you fill them.

Put on Safety Gear

It is time to make use of the safety equipment you gathered at the beginning of your project. 

You will want to wear the safety gear at all times to protect your eyes, ears, and lungs from irritation. 

If fiberglass touches your skin, it may create a sharp, stinging sensation. You will have the urge to rub it. Don’t. It will only make it worse, driving the particles deeper into your skin. Rinse your skin off with water and it will eventually go away.

Vacuum Insulation

Now, you can actually begin to vacuum out the insulation. You’ll want to work quickly and work your way backward from the back of the attic.

If you’re using your own vacuum, keep an eye on it to make sure you are emptying it often enough. You will put that respirator to the test.

Clean Up

It depends on the size of your space, but there could potentially be hundreds of trash bags to pick up.

So, what are you supposed to do with it?

How to Dispose of Old Insulation

As you’re filling the garbage bags, squeeze them to let out any excess air before tying them. For peace of mind, you can place each bag into a second one to create a better seal.

Next, you’ll have to do some research.

Disposal and recycling procedures vary by area. Call your local waste-management office and ask what to do with the insulation of your type.

In some cases, you can place the bags out with your regular trash. In others, you will have to take it to a designated area at the dump.

If there is a fiberglass insulation manufacturer nearby, you can also call and ask if they have a recycling program. 

Get Help

With better insulation, you will experience fewer insects and less pollen and dirt in your space.

You’ll benefit from lower utility bills, as heat and cool air will no longer be able to leak out of your poorly insulated attic.

Most importantly, you will protect yourself and others from the harmful contaminants found in the old insulation. 

If you’re questioning how to remove blown in insulation, you will discover that it’s a dirty job.

Contact our staff today to discuss our insulation replacement services and request a free estimate.

unfinished attic

Is Your Unfinished Attic Safe? 10 Ways to Test it Out

When it comes to home improvement, 70% of Americans prefer to do the work themselves.

With all the home renovation websites and television series out there, it’s no wonder the DIY approach is the preferred method of choice. But some DIY projects, such as an unfinished attic, require a little more precaution than others.

If you’re renovating your home and need to access your attic, there are certain safety precautions you need to consider. Before you head up there, you should know everything from what safety gear to wear to how to walk in the attic without falling through.

But there’s more to know than that. In this guide, we’ll explore the top 10 tips you need to keep in mind.

How To Test An Unfinished Attic

The number of safety hazards in an attic are plenty. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, these hazards include:

  • Poor ventilation and fine particulate dust that affects breathing 
  • Low-clearance rafters that affect the safety of your head
  • Exposed insulation
  • Asbestos insulation
  • Mechanical hazards including whole house fans and attic ventilators
  • Slip, trip, and fall hazards (i.e. wiring)
  • Electrical hazards including wiring and electrical boxes
  • Pest-related hazards such as animal nests with urine and feces
  • Heat stress

To avoid these potential hazards, you need to know how to get around in your attic while keeping yourself protected. But you also need to perform some regular maintenance that ensures its ongoing safety. In these 10 tips, we’ll share a little bit of both. 

Check the stairs

If you have stairs leading up to your attic, especially the pull-down type, you’ll want to check them before use. These stairs are often the last thought in terms of home maintenance, and you can’t always trust their structural integrity. 

Check if there’s a floor

There’s a big difference between an actual floor and the ceiling of the room below your attic. Stepping on drywall or plaster that makes up the roof below could at best cause damage and at worst cause a serious fall to the floor below.

A floor that you can walk on will have floorboards and floor joists. If you’re not sure, it’s best to call a professional before putting any weight on it. Even storing boxes up there could cause costly damage.

If there is no floor, be careful on the joists

If you don’t have a floor, you’ll have to walk on the joists. When doing so, be careful not to place all your weight on one joist. Not only is this a fall hazard, but it can also cause the joist to bow and crack the drywall below.

This also means you don’t want to sit, stand, or kneel on one joist for too long. So when you need to work in your attic for a long period of time, bring a piece of plywood to better distribute your weight across the rafters. Something thicker than 1/4″ can be placed across two ceiling joists so you stay comfortable and safe.

Protective clothing and gear

A huge part of any kind of DIY project is safety clothing and gear. Your attic is no different.

Be sure that you’re protecting your skin from insulation and dust. Wear long sleeves and pants and don’t leave your skin exposed.

While a hard hat might actually get in your way in an attack, you can protect your head from dust and insulation with a knitted cap or a hooded sweatshirt. You should also opt for treaded sneakers over large, clunky boots.

And of course, you’ll want to protect your respiratory system from any fine particulates that make it difficult to breathe. For this, you’ll need an N95 mask.

Stay clean and organized

To minimize the number of times you have to move around or go up and down from the attic, plan out what tools you’re going to need before heading up. Place them in a toolbelt so they’re organized and don’t present a tripping hazard.

You should also keep your workspace and the attic clean. As you’re moving around, you might knock dust and insulation loose. Spread a sheet under the stairs to catch those particulates.

But cleanliness is also an annual job. You have to regularly maintain your attic vents and fans to ensure that your unfinished attic is safe.

The soffit vents are there for ventilating your attic space and maintaining steady air flow. You can clean these from below using an air compressor. At the same time, clean your attic fan blades.

Work with light

An important part of working safely is proper lighting. When using a work light, make sure that the cord is well out of where you’re walking to avoid tripping. You should also bring a flashlight for extra lighting in hard-to-see corners.

And while it may be tempting to use the light of day to work in an unfinished attic, remember that attics can get dangerously hot during the day. And your long sleeves and pants won’t help with that matter. To avoid heat stress, check the weather forecast before picking your day of work and start work early in the day.

Be careful how you walk

When walking around on joists, spread your weight out. Only put one foot on one joist at a time. Then, have two other points of contact to keep your balance, even if it’s a rafter above your head.

You should also minimize any other tripping hazards such as loose cables and wires, low hanging beams, exposed nails, and building scraps.

Check the insulation

Insulation from the 1970s or 1980s may be hazardous to your health. In these decades, they used vermiculite insulation. This stuff is well-known for containing asbestos.

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen and can also cause a lung disease called asbestosis. If you see warning signs such as mold, blackened spots, or disintegrating areas, call a professional for removal right away.

Wiring

Unless you’re an experienced electrician, an inspection of your wiring should be left to the professionals. They can replace any damaged wire that might cause fire hazards in an unfinished attic—especially when close to insulation.

Look for signs of pests

Attics are a favorite nesting spot for wasps and bees. But small animals like raccoons can also get int your attic and make it home.

If you see any signs of pests in your attic, call an exterminator to rid of the problem before beginning any work.

More Attic Work And Safety

An unfinished attic is a hotspot for accidents. Knowing how to walk around, what to check for, and how to maintain it is key to staying safe while you’re working up there.

But jobs such as electrical work, insulation removal, and pest control, even the most experienced DIYer should leave to the professionals. For a full list of how we can help, check out our list of services.

pests in attic

Pests in the Attic: How They Get There, and What to Do About It

Have you been hearing a scurry across your ceiling lately? Thinking your house might be haunted?

It’s worse…sounds like you might have pests in the attic!

While supernatural hauntings might seem terrifying, they can easily be placated with a little holy spirit. Living monsters like rodents and other pests, though…those are the real horrors that hide in the dark.

You better act fast to get those pests removed from the attic before they take over the whole house!

Read on to find out all you need to know about rodent control and pest removal.

What Are Pests?

Pests are a nuisance in any house.

They’re small, invasive, and multiplying rapidly. These are the common pests you might find making a home in your attic, uninvited.

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Bats
  • Squirrels
  • Chipmunks
  • Raccoons
  • Feral Cats
  • Opossums
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Birds

How Are Pests in the Attic?

Now, you’re probably wondering how pests and rodents infiltrated your attic in the first place. It’s airtight, no?

Not to a little rascal like a rodent.

The attic is easily accessible for pests and rodents for two reasons: 1) tree branches and power lines provide easy access to this area of the house. 2) many small entryways can be found into the attic for pipes, wiring, ventilation, and heating.

Let’s take a look at how rodents can ransack your attic.

Ventilation Panels

Most animals need some source of heat, both warm- and cold-blooded animals.

When it’s cold out, the attic starts to look like a good resting ground for the night, or fortnight.

The warm air emanating from your home’s ventilation panels is a welcome sign to pests and rodents.

This includes:

  • air-control exhaust ventilation panels
  • gable vents in older homes for natural cooling methods
  • exhaust vents for kitchen and bathroom appliances like stoves and dryers

Most of these panels are made of metal, but some are constructed of wood or plastic. Many rodents have teeth specifically designed for cracking open the solid exterior of nuts and seeds.

See how this might be a problem?

Squirrels, especially, are very adept at gnawing through an old panel itself, or the foam insulation that lines it. And birds can easily fly right up to a slatted vent and take nest inside your attic.

Roof Joints and Intersections

Roofs are quite efficient at protecting against weather and other elements of nature. But their defenses against tiny invaders?—not so much.

Places where the roof joins together with either a wall or another section of roofing become easy-access entry points for pests. This is due to moisture damage.

Water elements like rain, snow, and ice formations are meant to slide off the roof and onto the ground. For the most part, the water does as intended. However, especially at intersections at joints, this water will collect and build up.

As roofs age, they become weakened due to this water damage.

These thickly moistened roof edges then become an easy target for the gnawing teeth of a rodent. A couple of hours and they’ll have chewed a tunnel right into your attic.

In some cases, pests don’t even have to dig their way inside. They can just walk right in.

Some shingles can become dislodged over time. And when this happens at a point where two roof sections intersect, direct access can be achieved. It’s a small gap that might be missed by water drainage, but a rodent can squeeze right in.

Plumbing and Electric Mats

Electrical wiring and plumbing sometimes require access to the outside through your attic.

During installation for the tubing and panel boxes, holes can sometimes be drilled a bit larger than necessary. These holes are then filled in with rubber matting to seal it off from the elements.

However, like insulation lining, this matting can be easily chewed through. All it takes is one, persevering pest to gnaw through and make home in your attic.

How to Remove Pests?

So we know how they got in…now how do we get them out of the attic?

Well, let me ask you a question: are you a good witch, or a bad witch?

Rodent Traps

There are several styles of traps available for purchase, but if you’re going the route of trapping the pests we recommend humane traps.

They allow for a controller manner of removing the animal without harming it.

Contact your local wildlife refuge for advice on how to properly rehabilitate the critter you’ve just caught.

Pest Exterminators

If you’d like to be one and done with it, it’s best to call up an exterminator.

Rather than setting up multiple traps and disposing of the remains yourself, a rodent removal professional can manage it all in a timely manner. It’s the peace of mind worth investing in, so make an appointment!

How to Prevent Pests From Coming Back?

The fun isn’t over just yet.

After getting rid of the current residents, you’ll have to do all in your power to make sure they don’t come back!

First, get rid of all the remains. Scents and territory markings, fecal matter, nesting materials—everything that could indicate to a wild animal that this could be their new home.

Once that’s done, it’s time to foolproof your roof and attic.

Make an appointment with a professional for pest and rodent prevention services. They’ll have the proper training and knowledge to block off any and every nook and cranny.

Take Action Now

Pests can be quite a nuisance with their incessant scratching and scuttling across the floor.

Worse, though, they can be a terrible financial burden. The damage they cause can require full replacement of ceiling beams and roof structures.

It’s better to take care of the problem sooner than later.

Contact us now for a free estimate on our services in regards to rodents and pests in the attic. We provide quality service for all your attic and roofing needs.

how to insulate an old house

How to Insulate an Old House: Why the Attic is Key

Have you been experiencing colder winters lately? Is your house an older structure with an attic? If it is, you need to look into adding proper insulation to your home.

The energy efficiency of a house can cut down on costs bigtime. An example is how water heating uses around 90% of the energy it takes to operate a washer. Modern washing machines can clean your clothes without hot water.

The insulation heat loss of your home can lead to paying a higher bill than cutting down on it. So how do you keep your home warm in the winter seasons without emptying your wallet? The key is to invest in insulating your attic.

Below, we will give you a guide on how to insulate an old house.

1. Why the Attic?

We all know that hot air rises as cool air sinks to a low level. Let’s apply this knowledge to your house. Without proper insulation, in the winter months, the warm air you need will seep up to the attic.

No matter how small the gaps that lead up to your attic, warm air will find ways to go up. Other than that, the pressure in the area with warm air will increase. On a cold day, that pressure and the lower pressure from outside pull the warm air through any gap in can find.

Other than that, the high air pressure at the top of the house will create low pressure at the bottom. The cold air gets pulled in because of these different air pressures, making your home frigid. This is what energy experts call the stack effect.

Before you insulate your attic, read these pre-insulation steps first.

2. Fill the Gaps

Your insulated attic isn’t necessarily a sealed attic. Before you begin the installation of insulation, you have to make sure to seal all the gaps in your attic. Insulation works to slow down heat loss but not to stop airflow.

Check all the gaps and holes where air can pass then seal them up. Cover gaps with planks or drywall pieces. You can also use latex caulk or urethane foam for wider gaps.

Check gaps from light fixtures, pipes, wiring, and heating/cooling ducts. For chimneys and stove flues, use sheet-metal collar and caulk to seal gaps around them. Use weather stripping around the edges of your attic door for an attic door seal,

Warm air can also leave through your attic ventilation. In the summer, vents in the attic keep the house nice and cool. In the winter months, you want to cover your attic vents if you can.

Attics that are already insulated will need more elbow grease. Roll back batts so you can seal all the gaps under them. Remember your safety gear: pants, long sleeves, gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask.

What if the attic has loose-fill insulation, which you can’t pull back? It’s better for you to call a weatherization contractor to find all the gaps and holes. Don’t leave a breach for warm air to escape through.

3. Install Attic Insulation

The answer to making an old house inhabitable is insulation. Even if you bought the house with insulation already installed into it, it’s best to double check. The insulation materials used in older houses are not as effective in keeping heat in as the new ones.

The insulation must meet DOE standards. For most of the US, the DOE’s standard is R-38. Your area may have a different standard so be sure to check first.

You have many choices for your insulation batting. The traditional option is fiberglass insulation. When you choose this solution and work at it alone, be careful and wear safety gear.

You can add R-30 insulation batting throughout your attic. Or, you can also use blown-in insulation which has environment-friendly materials available. A 15-inch thickness is like the R-30 insulation batting.

For a greener insulation project, Cellulose blown-in insulation is available. Recycled newsprint makes up cellulose. The R-value is greater than fiberglass and it is fire-retardant.

The best way to insulate attic doors is to make a pillow made of insulation batting. Measure first before you stick it onto the attic door with tape. Add foam to the edges to keep it air-sealed.

Did you know that 42% of the energy used in homes goes to space heating? Compare it to the energy air conditioning uses up, which is 6%. When it comes to keeping the house habitable temperature-wise, homeowners use up more energy and money in colder seasons.

4. Other Ways on How to Insulate an Old House

For the most part, the attic is a big factor in heat loss. Still, that doesn’t mean we should ignore other common heat leaks. The following are other measures you can take to keep heat in.

After the attic, windows are the second major problem. Make sure you have storm windows in place. Next, keep your exterior walls insulated as well.

Check your home for other gaps. Follow pips, cables, or drains that may lead outside the home. If you find any, seal them up to keep heat in.

When you insulate light fixtures, make sure your insulation materials are a good distance away from the heat of the lights. You may need to install wooden blocks around the lights. Insulation materials too close to the heat generated by the lights can cause fires.

Make Your House Energy-Efficient

Before you seal or insulate your attic, it’s best to clear it out first. This way, it’s easier to remove the plywood on the attic floor. Before you peel away the plywood, assess its condition if it’s fit for insulation.

Check your current insulation for dampness. The presence of molds and stains means that it’s time to change them. All these steps on how to insulate an old house are great investments in energy savings.

Don’t wait to insulate! Feel free to contact us today and we can help you get started. If you’re not so sure yet, don’t worry about the cost because we offer free estimates as well!

Rodent Proofing Your Garden Helps Rodent Proof Your House

rodent proofing your garden helps rodent proof your house

Mice and rats are intelligent and curious creatures and, like humans, they love to find a safe and consistent source of food and shelter. By finding ways to rodent proof your yard and garden spaces, you’ll inherently protect your home from unwanted rodents.

Rodent proofing your garden starts with denying the food source

Your vegetable gardens, along with fruit and seed bearing trees and flowers, serve as a one-stop grocery store and restaurant for rats and other rodent pests. Rats and mice love to feast on tender leaves and greens every bit as much as they love to eat seeds, nuts, fruits, and sweeter veggies. They even love to eat worms and insects making their home in your soil and garden beds, not to mention the allure of your irrigation system’s supply of fresh water.

Once your garden becomes a favorite rodent hotspot, it’s inevitable that the rodents will migrate into your warm, cozy home – including attics, basement, and crawlspaces.

Thus, taking the steps necessary to rodent proofing your garden and outdoor spaces is a first line of defense in rodent proofing your home.

Rats and mice spread pathogens

In addition to protecting your plants, the final harvest and your home – there’s another important reason to keep rats and mice away from the garden; they spread pathogens.

For example, rodent fecal matter often contains Salmonellosis. When droppings are watered, the bacteria spread into the soil and splashes up onto the leaves of lettuces, greens, and other edible plants and veggies. Without diligent washing and cleaning, the pathogen can spread to your family, causing serious illness – particularly in babies, young children and the elderly.

They also spread other known pathogens and viruses, and are hosts for other unpleasant parasites – including fleas and ticks.

Keep rats, mice, and rodents out of the garden

Here are some of the ways you make your garden less attractive – or impenetrable – to rodents and other unwanted guests.

Start seedlings indoors

Rats and mice love tender seeds, and freshly-sprouted seeds are an even better source of protein and nutrients. Planting seeds directly in the ground makes easy pickins for mice and rats. Instead, sprout your seedlings indoors so they have a chance to grow, planting them in the ground after they’ve taken off and have a good, strong start.

Protect your compost pile

Compost piles are wonderful, reducing landfill waste and using food scraps to help nourish next year’s garden. Unfortunately, they’re also a feasting ground for rats and mice. Make your compost pile as unpleasant as possible by turning it regularly and spraying it down with a garden hose, making it more difficult for rodents to access fresh food scraps.

Eliminate prospective shelters

Rodents love to hole up in wood piles and overgrown vegetation. Eliminate prospective shelters by moving wood and kindling piles regularly, keeping lawns and perimeter vegetation neatly mowed and trimmed and bagging yard waste immediately for disposal.

Install wire mesh below and alongside raised beds

Mice and small rats can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. Keep this in mind as you work to prevent underground and above ground access. Mesh wire should be laid along the bottom and sides of raised garden boxes – preventing burrowing access.

Use plants that keep rats away in borders and perimeters

There are some plants that naturally assist with rodent proofing your garden from rats and other rodents, so try these plants that keep rats away, using them around your yard, garden as borders, etc. These include:

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Bay (sprinkle bay leaves around the garden beds)
  • Catnip
  • Onion
  • Daffodil
  • Wood Hyacinth (squill)
  • Elderberry
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Camphor plant

Sachets made from mint, lavender and other fragrant flowers or leaves have long been used to keep stored garments fresh; they also help to repel rodents so you can turn the yield from these outdoor plants that keep rats away into natural deterrents.

Control lawn pests – particularly grubs

A grubby lawn, plus a nearby garden is a win-win for rodents. By using eco-safe grub control methods for your lawn, rodent proofing your garden combined with some serious garden control and rodent repellents, will make your yard and home less attractive to those pests.

How to eliminate resident rats from the garden

First, identify which rodents are the problem so you can target specific types for elimination:

  • Look for them. Rats and mice are most active at dusk and dawn. Look for them scurrying along powerlines, fences and tree lines.
  • Plants disappear from below. Gophers and moles may be your problem, but rats and mice are tunnelers, too. They love to gnaw and tug on plants from their root base, bringing the whole feast back home to the family.
  • Look for holes and burrows. Because rodents are tunnelers, you’ll typically see evidence of their superhighway via holes or mounds of fresh earth.
  • Do you see any tracks – which will appear in trail formats on well-worn rodent pathways.
  • Mounds of soil indicate the entrance of a gopher, mole or rat hole. Rats make smaller mounts, gophers make larger mounds. Heart-shaped mounds are the sign of moles, rounder mounds are more typical of gophers.
  • Keep an eye out for droppings. If you have mice or rats in your garden, you’ll see evidence of black- or dark-brown droppings on top of the soil.
  • Smear marks will appear on fence lines, the top of wood piles, stone or metal caused by body oil and debris that remains from well-worth paths.
  • Chewed or damaged fencing material is evidence that they’re gnawing their way in.

Any of these signs indicate rats in the garden – and probably your home – warranting attention from you or a professional to start rodent proofing your garden.

Traps are the best means of eliminating rats and rodents

The best way to eliminate rats and other rodents from your garden is trapping. You can flood burrows with water – flushing rodents from the ground – but they’ll return. If you opt for this method, flood the burrows a few times a week for several weeks, forcing the intelligent rodents to find a newer, safer place to live.

Poisons are risky

Frustrated homeowners can forsake their ethics and opt for poison when they aren’t able to get a handle on things but this is a risky choice. Rodents and mice that are poisoned may be eaten or played with by your own dog or cat. Unwitting children may mistake a slower-moving poisoned rat for a tame “pet” or plaything.

Once sick and/or dead – poisoned are eaten by other animals that are then poisoned. These untargeted victims are often the same predators you want to hang around because they keep rodent populations in check.

Consider using baited and/or live traps for rodent proofing your garden

If you are against using a traditional snap trap, consider live trap options – some of which are designed to capture multiple rodents at a time. Just remember to let them go at least a mile away – multiple miles away is best –from your home since rodents are likely to find their way back otherwise.

Are you concerned you have rats in the garden or fear rodent proofing your garden hasn’t worked? Contact us here at Attic Solutions and we’ll rodent proof your attic and crawl spaces, helping you to eliminate rats and mice once and for all.