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.

radiant barrier

Radiant Barrier: Is it Right for Your Home?

You live in a warm climate and your cooling costs are outrageous.

Did you know that the sun is the primary source of heat in your attic space?

Did you know that a radiant barrier can keep your attic cooler and reduce your cost to cool the whole house?

Not sure what a radiant barrier is? No problem. Keep reading to learn if a radiant barrier is the right choice for your home.

What is Radiant Barrier Insulation?

A radiant barrier is a type of insulation specifically designed for attics in warm to hot climates. The barrier is made from a highly reflective material.

Types of Radiant Barriers

Radiant barriers come in a few different options. It is always a reflective material, usually aluminum foil, adhered to a backing material for support. This stiffer material may be cardboard, plastic, OSB, or sometimes kraft paper.

You can find reinforced radiant barriers for increased durability. Fiber-reinforced backing is easier to handle during installation.  

Radiant barriers may be installed as part of your attic’s insulation system. 

Perforated vs Non-Perforated Barriers

You can find both perforated and non-perforated radiant barriers.

A non-perforated barrier does not allow water vapor to pass through it. It is a solid piece of reflective material.

Depending on your HVAC system and house ventilation, this may not be good. It can cause dampness in the attic. If moisture from the house cannot find another way out, it can condense in the attic space and damage your home.

A perforated barrier has tiny holes that allow for better airflow. This reduces the risk of condensation forming. 

How Does a Radiant Barrier Work?

Radiant barriers physically reflect the sun’s heat, called radiant heat. By doing this, they don’t allow the attic infrastructure to absorb the heat.  This is the reflectivity of the barrier. 

It keeps the joists and ductwork from getting hotter. Think of it as moving your home from the direct sun into the shade.

They also keep the air in the attic space from heating up. This is the emissivity of the barrier. Essentially, the hot air from the outside is not able to emit heat to the cooler air on the inside.

What are the Benefits of Radiant Barriers?

In a nutshell, radiant barriers reduce heat gain from the sun and reduce cooling costs.

By reducing the amount of heat your home absorbs, you can significantly cut down on cooling costs. If you aren’t running your HVAC system at its max, you will likely also save money in the long-run. You will reduce maintenance and repair costs for the system.

The hotter it gets, the better your radiant barrier will work. This means that in the worst part of the hot months, you will reduce your cooling costs the most. 

A radiant barrier allows your attic space to be converted into a living space. You can keep the attic a comfortable temperature all year long. 

You can finally convert that unused space into your dream home office or guest room!

Radiant barriers may also help you qualify for Energy Star certifications for your home. This helps with resale value. 

How is Radiant Barrier Installed?

A professional should install the radiant barrier.  

It is generally installed during construction of a new home. However, if you are re-roofing your home, or you have an unfinished attic with open rafters, you can retrofit the attic with radiant barrier.

The foil is draped between roof rafters. This can be accomplished before the roof goes on, or by stapling the material to the bottom of the rafters after-the-fact. 

It’s important to allow the material to droop between the rafters. There should be about 1″ of air space between the radiant barrier and the bottom of the roof. 

Things to Watch Out For During Installation

A radiant barrier’s effectiveness depends on proper installation. Using a certified installer is your best bet because there are some precautions to be taken during installation. 

Aluminum foil conducts electricity. The installer needs to make sure that the foil does not contact bare wiring or other sources of electricity. 

The barrier should not be installed on top of the attic floor insulation. Foil on the floor will accumulate dust. It may also trap moisture in the thermal insulation. Both reduce the effectiveness of the radiant barrier and can cause other expensive damage to your home. 

The radiant barrier requires the right spacing to function properly. If the foil is pulled tight between rafters, or is sandwiched between pieces of insulation, the foil will become a conductor of heat. 

The air space is what makes the foil work as a radiant barrier. No air space means that the barrier will actually be working against your insulation system. It will reduce your thermal insulation’s effectiveness. 

Is a Radiant Barrier Worth the Cost?

The value of a radiant barrier in your home depends on your climate and current insulation system. You benefit the most when:

Your Attic is Poorly Insulated

If your attic is already very well insulated, you won’t notice the difference of the radiant barrier.

The older your home, or the worse the condition of your current insulation, the more difference you will see. It may be more cost effective to upgrade your insulation with radiant barrier than remove and replace all of your insulation. 

Your Roof Gets Direct Sunlight

A radiant barrier reduces the heat gained from the sun. If your home is in the shade consistently, the radiant barrier won’t be as effective. 

A south-facing roof will see the most benefit from the installation of a radiant barrier. 

Outbuildings with metal roofs would also see a huge difference in radiant heat absorption. If you have a garage, barn, shed, or other outdoor workspaces, you can cut the summer swelter by adding a radiant barrier. 

There is Ductwork in Your Attic

Most older homes have ductwork that runs through the attic. A poorly insulated attic means that the hot ducts warm the air as it passes through the attic into your living spaces.

This makes your air conditioning system less effective. 

Adding a radiant barrier to your attic will reduce the heat absorbed by the ductwork. It reduces the load on your HVAC and A/C systems. 

Installing a radiant barrier is cheaper and easier than insulating the entire ductwork system. 

Get Ready to Cut Your Cooling Costs

Living in a warm climate should not mean you have to break the bank to keep your home cool. 

A radiant barrier may be the perfect solution to keeping your home and wallet more comfortable in the heat. 

Think that a radiant barrier is the right move for your home? Contact us today for a free estimate. 

attic space into living space

Converting Attic Space Into Living Space: How It’s Done

The average national cost for attic renovations is $49,438

Considering how much space you will gain with a finished attic, this cost could be very worthwhile.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about converting an attic space into living space.

Ensure Your Attic Meets Building Codes

Before you begin to think about attic storage ideas and what your finished attic will look like, you need to deal with building codes.

Check with your with your local municipality about the building code in your area.

A building inspector can come to inspect your attic to see if it meets the codes. He or she will give you a list of the necessary codes that need to be met. 

Your attic room might not currently meet the code requirements, yet. If so you must factor in the necessary changes during your renovations.

There are three main aspects to attics building codes.

Ceiling

In order to turn your attic space into living space, the ceilings must be 7 feet from the floor.  

If your attic isn’t 7 feet, you could lower the floor or raise the attic height. You’ll need a skilled contractor for either project.

Egress

If you plan to turn your attic space into a bedroom, you’ll have to have at least two exits. One can be the staircase to the lower floor. Another exit could be a window.

Ideally, you’ll have an in-wall escape ladder tucked behind a cabinet door, just in case you need to use this exit. 

Joist

The attic floor joists need to meet certain codes to be able to support the weight of your renovated living space.

Extra weight comes in the form of plumbing, drywall, and lighting. 

Once you’ve dealt with building codes, you can turn your attention to light in your attic.

Think About Natural Light

One of the tricky things about converting attic space into living space is natural light. 

Typically, attics don’t have many windows. Adding dormers can be pricey and will eat up wall space.

A better option is to install skylights.

These allow both fresh air and a flood of natural light into the space. Plus, installation is simpler this way.

Skylights look stunning on slanted ceilings! You can even get solar-powered shades that you can control with a remote to keep the temperature perfect in the attic.

Opt for Spray Foam Insulation

If you are creating an attic bedroom, you’ll have to think about insulation.

The attic is often the hottest room in during the hot months. It can get icy cold in the winter. The quality of insulation in the attic affects how comfortable the finished attic is. 

Traditional insulation is fiberglass batt insulation. You might recognize it as the pink fluffy stuff that you’ve seen sticking out of walls in basements.

But, to make an attic room that is comfortable in every season, you want the best insulation you can. That way you won’t spend tons of money and energy heating and cooling the finished attic.

Though it’s more expensive, foam insulation forms a tight air barrier in every tiny crevice. Plus, rodents and insects can’t chomp through the stuff which is a bonus.

And since it takes up less space, you will have more room overhead this way.

Do You Need a New HVAC Zone?

If you are planning to convert your attic into an attic bedroom, you might want to make sure the temperature is right in the space.

You can have an HVAC professional create a new zone for your finished attic. Then it would get its own thermostat so that the attic rooms are heated and cooled properly. 

You really want to do this step now before you’ve finished the space. It will be much more work and money down the line.  

Think About Soundproofing

What room of the house will be directly under the finished attic space? If it’s a bedroom, you will want to seriously consider soundproofing the attic flooring.

Even walking around on the attic flooring can sound extremely loud in the room below.

Thicker floor joists and dense-pack insulation that is blown in over the bays will help a lot. A good carpet with a thick underpad will also help minimize the noise.

Get Creative with Storage in the Finished Attic 

Likely, you’ve been using your unfinished attic as a storage space. But once that space is an attic bedroom, you’ll have to reconsider where to put things.

Your attic probably has some awkward angles and nooks that run along pine chases or chimneys. Use these spots to your advantage as storage solutions.

There are tons of awesome attic renovation ideas to inspire you online.

For example, low walls are a great spot for DIY open shelves.

You can also put in some recessed cubbies or a recessed chest of drawers. 

Adding a Bathroom 

Adding a bathroom to your finished attic is a genius idea if you can swing it.

You can expect a 60% return on your investment if you sell the house down the road.

If you have pipes in the attic already, putting in a bathroom up there won’t be too difficult. If the plumbing isn’t already in place you may want to go with up-flush plumbing.

This type of plumbing lets you put a shower, toilets, and sinks in places without a nearby drain. 

Final Thoughts on Turning Your Attic Space Into Living Space

Renovating an unused attic into a finished attic is a smart way to add more living space to your home.

You can use the finished attic as a bedroom, lounge area, den or playroom. Then, if you ever decide to list your property, your house will be able to sell for so much extra because of the additional living space.

At Attic Solutions, we can sanitize, remove and replace your old insulation. Request a free estimate today.  

crawl space insulation

Clean and Dry: Why You Should Consider Installing a Moisture Barrier in Your Crawl Space

Ever ventured into the dark recess under your home and found wet spots or creatures? If so, you know crawl space insulation is important.

Never had that experience? Let’s make sure you never meet a rodent or water leak when examining pipes, or storing boxes in the crawl space.

The crawl space is the area underneath the floor of your home. There isn’t much height, usually enough room to crawl. Most people consider it extra storage space, but it’s more than that.

The area is part of your house structure. It allows air to circulate through the home. It provides access to pipes, electrical systems, and ductwork for maintenance or repair.

A clean, insulated crawl space is essential for an efficient home. Let’s take a look at the benefits of proper crawl space insulation.

Improve Your Home’s Structural Integrity

It’s important to insulate the crawl space to keep the home structure sound. If moisture builds up inside the crawl space it could spread into the walls.

A lot of water could warp your floors. Mold and mildew grow in damp areas. Groundwater can damage a crawl space.

Vapor barriers and insulation maintain the structural integrity of your home. It protects it from air pollutants, rodents, and termites.

When a structure is sound you can use the area under it for storage. That’s another benefit.

Gain More Storage Space in Your Home

Why rent space at a local warehouse when you can keep possessions close at hand for free? If your crawl space is gross, wet or home to rodents you can’t use it as free storage space.

Invest in a professional crawl space clean up to remove debris and old insulation. If the area is clean and easy to access you can store seasonal items, tools, toys, and more. 

Crawl space storage eliminates clutter inside your home. You also save the cost and travel time spent on an off-site mini-warehouse unit. Clean and update your crawl space for convenient storage at home.

Crawl Space Insulation Removes Moisture

You don’t want to store anything in a dark, wet space. The main focus of an update to a crawl space is the elimination of water.

Water gathers under your home due to natural groundwater, rainwater, and condensation. All water threatens the home.

As mentioned earlier, a wet foundation is at risk. Moisture also causes rust on your duct work. Clean up and insulation takes care of most water issues.

There are two types of crawl spaces: ventilated and unventilated. Each situation requires a certain kind of insulation. Ventilated spaces help to eliminated moisture.

Unventilated spaces shouldn’t insulate the subfloor between floor joists. In both cases, a vapor barrier over the dirt floor adds protection from groundwater.

The main thing is to identify the source of the moisture problem. If it’s due to poor ventilation, add the plastic vapor barrier on the floor. When water leaks through the foundation get professional help to repair it.

After repairing the foundation cracks, take preventative measures. A French drain around the home’s perimeter can move water away from the foundation.

Crawl spaces are in the exact place water runoff is common: underneath the home. Dirt floors add to the problem. Moisture and mold favor the wet dirt.

Moisture buildup can attract termites. They love eating damp wood. Termites cause damage at an alarming rate.

That’s another reason a vapor barrier is vital to ending moisture build up in the basement.

Reduce Rodent Invasions

Do you know who likes dark humid places? Raccoons, squirrels, snakes, chipmunks, rabbits, and possums. Critters like living under your home.

Old boxes and piles of junk appeal to rodents. A crawl space is a place to have babies, store food, and shelter.

That cute chipmunk isn’t so cute when he gnaws through your electrical wires or ductwork. Do you want squirrels in your walls?

When rodents live in your crawl space they leave their scent. The smell attracts other creatures. If you don’t want generations of rats living under your home, insulate your crawl space.

Insulation removes the things rodents like. Don’t forget to block entrance areas. Cover ventilation openings with wire that keeps animals out, but lets air flow.

Proper insulation recognizes risks and eliminates situations that attract rodents and other pests.

Improve Energy Efficiency

In older homes, the crawl spaces aren’t heated unless a homeowner updated it. Most have a dirt or gravel floor. These conditions can make it harder to heat your house in an efficient manner.

If your crawl space doesn’t stop cold air from getting into your home, your heating system works harder.

Insulation keeps the cold air in the crawl space. You’ll need insulation under the floor. Insulate any ductwork or pipes that enter the house from the crawl space.  This prevents cold air leaks, plus the pipes won’t freeze in cold weather.

Think of crawl space insulation as an extension of your whole house insulation. If you ignore it, you’ll lose heat and cool air through the floor. Your HVAC system must then work harder to keep your home comfortable.

The right insulation reduces the amount of heat lost through the floor. It helps you control the temperature in your home. It also reduces your energy costs.

Call the Experts for Professional Insulation

Crawl space insulation protects your home from mold, mildew, termites, and rodents. It’s a smart way to make your home energy-efficient and comfortable. 

Call the experts at Attic Solutions. Let the pros remove and dispose of old insulation. We’ll clean your crawl space and protect it with proper insulation.

After installation, it’s important to maintain the area under your home. We offer a checkup service and routine maintenance.

Visit  Attic Solutions for a free estimate. Let us know if you have other concerns. We’re happy to answer any and all questions.

attic vents

Do You Need to Cover Your Attic Vents in the Winter?

Worried about those attic vents?

Did you know that approximately 2% of building fires happen in the attic? That’s about 200 residential fires that happen each year because of a problem in the attic. Other significant problems in your attic may include black mold, mildew, or pests.

The best way to stay away from these problems is to understand the purpose of your attic and how to maintain it. In the sections below, we’ll dispel the myths of when closing the attic vents is warranted along with other common attic misconceptions. Read on.

Attic Vents 101

Why does your attic have vents anyway? Most people know that attics help your house release excess heat during summer months. The attic acts as an intermediate layer. It bars the heat of your sun-drenched roof from the rest of your home.

The vents allow the super-heated air to flow out. Then, cooler air from outside sneaks in to replace it. In that way, it keeps your house cooler and your heating bills down.

It only seems logical that closing those same vents during the winter would help keep the warm air inside. That would, of course, reduce your heating bills and keep your home at a cozy temperature.

But there’s more to this puzzle, as you’ll discover in the sections below.

Is More Attic Ventilation Better?

Just as you would size a furnace or air conditioner for your home, you also size your attic. You want a precise amount of ventilation to keep your home properly heated and cooled. If you have too much or too little, you’ll end up with energy inefficiency and moisture problems.

The same can be said of roof ventilation. Just as with space, too much or too little space will cause major problems.

Roof vents create additional access points for moisture to seep in and leaks to occur. Some vents are necessary. But if you needlessly increase your roof penetrations, you run greater risks:

  • Moisture damage
  • Higher cooling bills
  • Blowouts during strong winds
  • Sparks entering and causing a fire

So, how do you know how much ventilation you need? Without exception, speak to a professional contractor or architect. In general, homes need a ratio of 1:300.

For every 300 square feet of ceiling, you want 1 square foot of ventilation in your attic. Other factors to include are resistance and interference from things like grates, which impede air flow. That means that your entire vent opening doesn’t count as ventilated space.

Are Vents Only for Warm Climates?

Your roof ventilation can increase your energy efficiency during the summer. We discussed that earlier. What we didn’t mention was insulation, sun exposure, and shingle type are exponentially more important factors.

If they determine the dollars you save, your vents determine the cents.

Even if you own an old home that doesn’t have roof vents, installing vents may not be your best option. There are other, lower-risk, cost-effective ways to decrease your homes cooling bills.

But are air vents necessary in cold climates? Yes, they’re paramount, even if they require you to occasionally get rid of attic pests.

You see, the colder your climate, the higher the chance your home will benefit from ventilation. The colder it gets, the more you’ll have to contend with condensation. And condensation can be a home destroyer.

If your attic already has ventilation, it doesn’t have the high-rated rigid insulation you need for a closed attic. This insulation prevents condensation from seeping into your roof sheathing. It can cause mold, mildew, and even roof seepage.

Take into consideration how dew forms on the grass in the morning when cool, moist air hits warm sunlight. The warm air from your ceiling causes the same effect.

Over time, this condensation can cost tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Worse yet, black mold can have severe health consequences. That includes everything from allergies to pulmonary hemorrhages. It’s well worth it to keep those vents open and keep moisture out during the winter.

Doesn’t Warm Air Release Through Attic Vents in the Winter?

This is a common misconception. Because heat rises, people believe that ventilating your attic during the winter must mean you are letting hot air out. Which, in theory, would lead to higher energy bills, right?

But…

The loss of gain of heat in your attic is only marginally affected by your vents. We mentioned this earlier. Your insulation is hands down the determining factor in how well your attic retains heat. If you want to save money on your winter heating bills, replace your insulation with a newer, heavy duty option.

But be sure to check with an expert to make sure it’s the right kind. Getting the wrong kind on insulation can create as many problems as it fixes.

In general, your furnace should not be heating your attic. Whether you keep your vents open or closed will have a negligible effect on your power bill, but it’s sure to affect condensation.

Rooftop air vents are meant to be kept open year-round. They take little to no maintenance, but that doesn’t mean you should never check on them.

In order to keep your family safe, routinely check your entire home to make sure it’s in good running condition. Use a maintenance checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything. This winter, start in the attic and make sure your vents are open.

Then, check your furnace to make certain it’s functioning and/or your chimney to make sure it’s clear of debris. Then check the seals of all your doors and windows.

If you’ve done that and you’d still like to save money on your electricity bill, install heavy duty curtains. They can add an additional layer to the barrier keeping you warm.

What’s Next?

Now that you know what to look for with your attic vents, you know not to touch anything. That’s great news. It means less work for you and more time to enjoy your favorite show. So, snuggle up and stay warm.

If you found this material helpful, come peruse our library full of articles on attics and renovations.

So long and good luck!

attic renovation ideas

5 Awesome Attic Renovation Ideas to Inspire You

Is your attic simply a space that’s collecting dust? Maybe you store some old exercise equipment up there, but only ever go up there once in a blue moon?

If your answer is yes, then you’re like many people who don’t make use of their attic space. 

Attics sort of get a bad rap- people think of them as creepy, dark spaces that are magnets for bugs and dust. While that’s certainly true for those who hardly ever go up to their attic, those who renovate and maintain their attic will probably tell you it’s one of their favorite rooms in the house. 

But, how exactly do you renovate an attic?

Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of creative ways you can renovate this space.

If you like the idea of converting your attic into a livable space but aren’t sure where to start, read on to learn about the top attic renovation ideas to inspire you. 

Turn It Into a Home Office 

If you’re someone who works from home often, then you know how difficult it can sometimes be to stay focused on your work.  

From noisy kids to noisy pets, to the temptation of the television and kitchen snacks, working without interruption can sometimes feel nearly impossible. 

Many people find that having a space in their home that is solely dedicated to working is the best way to go. Many people put their home offices on the main floor or in the basement. 

However, the main floor is usually where all the distractions are. And, working in the basement means you don’t have a window to peer out of and gather inspiration. 

This is why an office attic is the perfect solution. Plus, attics tend to have a lot of space. This means there’s enough room for you to add not just a desk, but other things like a big whiteboard, a comfy couch, a large table, painting easels- whatever it is you need to get your work done!

A Game Room 

Who doesn’t love spending a night in playing games? 

If you have kids, games are a great way for your whole family to bond by partaking in an activity together. 

But, the problem is that a lot of houses don’t have space for more than a couple board games. And, many people are afraid to put a big game table (such as an air hockey table or foosball table) in their basement due to the noise. 

This is why turning your attic into a game room is such a good idea. 

If your attic is big enough, you can add one or two big game tables – air hockey tables, pool tables, ping pong tables, and foosball tables are all great ideas – and, you can add a sitting area for when you want to play board or card games. 

Best of all, while the noise may travel downstairs a bit, an attic game room won’t be nearly as loud as a basement game room. 

A Sunny Dining Room 

Many people love the idea of entertaining guests in their dining room. However, a lot of homes these days don’t even come with a dining room. 

Or, if they do, a lot of times they are small and cramped. 

if you love the idea of having a beautiful dining room in your home for small parties, consider turning your attic into one. 

All it takes to make a beautiful dining room is a big table, some chairs, and a few nice decorations. 

Attics with large windows make especially great dining rooms, as the windows help make the space feel larger. But, even if your attic doesn’t have large windows, building a dining room here is still a great idea. Gathering in a space that’s closed off from the rest of the home can make your parties feel more intimate and special. 

A Bedroom 

Maybe you have kids who are old enough to have their own room? Or, maybe you’d just like a spare room in case you have guests over?

If you answered yes to either of this, consider turning your attic into another bedroom. Even if your attic is looking dim right now, once you clean the space, add a nice coat of paint and do some flooring renovation, you can really turn the space around. 

And, even if you don’t anticipate family or friends using the space as a bedroom, it can still be a great idea if you’ve ever considered AirBnBing your space

Airbnb guests often like to find homes that offer a decent amount of privacy. With a bedroom attic, guests get all the feelings of staying in a real home with the added privacy benefit. 

A Library 

If you’re a bookworm, you’re probably constantly looking for places to store all of your books. And- if you live in a noisy household- you’re probably also looking for somewhere you can read in peace and quiet. 

By converting your attic into a library, you’ve solved both of these problems. 

With an attic, you have all kinds of space to build bookshelves. In fact, some people even make use of the A-frame shape of the attic by building unique looking bookshelves right into these structures. 

Add a couch, a couple chairs, and a nice rug, and you’ve created a library space that’s Pinterest-worthy. 

You could also designate this room the general “quiet room” and make it your space where you simply go to relax and recharge. 

For example, if you’re a yogi, you could convert the space into a small yoga studio. Or, if you meditate, you could turn the space into a peaceful meditation room. 

Attic Renovation Ideas: Are You Ready to Start Your Renovation Project? 

After reading all of these attic renovation ideas, you’re probably more than ready to get started on your project. 

But, before you dive in, you have to make sure your attic is ready. That’s where we come in. 

We can help make sure your attic is sanitary, clean, and free of rodents and pests. Get in contact with us today to learn more about our services. 

noises in the attic

Noises in the Attic: The Most Common Attic Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

Are you hearing noises in the attic?

Whether it’s scratching, scurrying, or just the sound of movement above your head, hearing any kind of noises from your attic could indicate a larger problem — pests.

Attics can be the ideal environment for squirrels, rodents, and even bats–they can damage stored items by gnawing and could even chew through your electric cabling.

They also leave droppings and other animal matter, which make your attic the ideal breeding ground for insects and diseases.

Here’s a list of some of the most common animals that could find their way into your attic–and how you can get rid of them.

Rats

Rats are some of the animals you’re most likely to find in your attic. Common roof rats love warm spaces and may seek refuge in your attic during cold or wet winter months.

Hear gnawing in the attic but you’re not sure if it’s rats?

The best way to identify them is through their droppings, which will be brown, sausage-shaped, and curved. If you happen to catch sight of them, they are usually larger than mice with a longer and thicker tail.

Rats are experts at gaining access to indoor spaces. They can squeeze through small holes and chew their way through almost any wall cavity.

They’re active day and night, but you’re more likely to hear them scurrying during the night.

You can use rat poison or traps to try and remove the rats that have already entered your house. Your best bet to keep them from coming back is to locate their entry point and seal it up.

Mice

Mice are very similar to rats, but with a few key differences. You’re more likely to find mice in your house–many of them have adapted to associate with humans rather than live in the wild.

Mice are much smaller than rats, with thinner tails. You can identify them by their feces, which will look like very small grains of brown rice.

Because of their small size, they’re likely to gain access to your attic by climbing up the wall and squeezing through small spaces.

You can use mice traps or poison, but the most effective way to get rid of mice is to find the entry holes and seal them permanently.

Squirrels

While squirrels might be cute, they’re one of the most common types of animals you’ll find gnawing through your attic.

They might be similar to mice and rats, but squirrels can be even more damaging.

They’re experts at chewing and can chew through your walls for better access to your house and attic. They can also chew through wood and electrical wires–which could become a fire hazard.

These critters are most active during the daytime. You’re likely to hear them around early morning and evening.

You can use poison, but many prefer to capture and relocate squirrels instead. Either way, be sure to remove the rodents and seal up any access holes.

Bats

If the noises in the attic don’t sound like the typical scratching and gnawing, you might be dealing with a different animal altogether.

Bats can be a serious problem to deal with in your attic. They can gain access by squeezing through small holes or flying into your roof through gaps along the roof line.

While they won’t gnaw through anything, they produce large amounts of droppings, which have a pungent odor. Their droppings look like small dark pellets, and they can accumulate quickly.

These droppings are a serious health problem. Not only does it smell bad, but contamination can lead to diseases like histoplasmosis.

Bats are nocturnal creatures. They’re most active during the night, but it can be hard to find them due to the fact that they make very little sound.

While there are items on that market that claim to be able to repel bats, none of these are scientifically proven to work. It’s best to physically remove them yourself or call somebody to help you do it.

In addition, you need to ensure that the droppings are cleaned, the area is sanitized, and all entrance holes are sealed.

Snakes

Even if you don’t live in a hot climate, snakes can get into your home without you knowing it.

Snakes are ectothermic, which means that they don’t produce much body heat and must rely on external factors to keep them warm. This means they might seek out your attic or other areas of the home in order to stay warm.

Most snakes are harmless. But some snakes have venom that could be harmful or even lethal to humans. To avoid any chance of injury, it’s best to remove any snake infestation from the home.

It can be hard to identify snakes in your attic due to the fact that they are great at hiding inside the walls and make little noise. If you notice nests, eggs, or shed skin, you may have a snake problem.

If you suspect there may be snakes in your home, you can try the flour trick. Sprinkle a small layer of flour over a hardwood floor in an area of your home.

Check the next day or after a few days to see if there are tracks in the flour.

Never attempt a snake removal yourself. You should always call a professional to help you with a snake infestation.

Noises in the Attic? Get Rid of Attic Critters For Good

If you’re hearing noises in the attic and find signs of habitation like droppings, nesting, or damage caused by gnawing, you might just be dealing with attic pests.

Don’t run the risk of bad odors, disease, or electrical hazards. If you think any of these pests may have infested your attic, reach out to a professional immediately to have them removed. 

Looking for a pest removal service? Check out our attic pest control services to see what we have to offer.