How To Know If Your Attic Is Under Insulated

06/13/2022 | By Pamela Vargas-Touchard |

If your home is 10+ years old, there is a good chance your attic is under insulated. If your home is 20 years old or older, and you haven’t had it updated or replaced. Insulation is designed to be durable, but a home is only adequately insulated when it meets a few criteria:

  • It meets current EPA/Energy Star R-Values for optimal energy efficiency.
  • Insulation is not damaged by water, pests, fire damage, or sloppy post-construction subcontractor work.
  • Batts or blown-in cellulose insulation haven’t moved or shifted into uneven layers or left gaps that affect whole-home comfort.

7 Ways To Know If Your Home's Attic Is Under Insulated

Here are signs or ways to know if your home needs more insulation or if the insulation needs to be replaced altogether.

Schedule an insulation inspection

If you don’t have any type of construction/insulation know-how, we highly recommend you schedule an attic inspection from a licensed insulation contractor. Insulation inspections are affordable and inform you about existing insulation's current status and quality. Professionals quickly identify the three bullet points listed above and provide accurate recommendations to get your attic insulation back into shape.

Safely access the attic and take a look around

Using best attic safety practices, access your attic space and look around. While it may take some careful sleuthing to figure out if the insulation has adequate R-Values, you’ll quickly be able to discern significant issues or a sense that “something doesn’t seem quite right yet.”

Insulation is unevenly layered

Insulation is designed to prevent heat transfer in the wrong direction. It minimizes the movement of solar heat gain from the roof during the hottest months, and it prevents your warm conditioned air from escaping the home during the cooler months. If layers are uneven or spotty, it can’t consistently do that. 

If you notice that insulation looks thick over here but thing over there, or if you see patches of bare attic floor/walls, odds are your insulation needs attention. Similarly, post-construction subcontractors such as home automation companies, cable guys, HVAC technicians, etc., can damage or move insulation and not fix the mess they made. If attic insulation is torn, missing, or visibly damaged in any way, it needs to be replaced.

Evidence of leaks or water damage

Roofs and attics are not supposed to leak, and while insulation is designed to be durable to a point, it’s ultimately made to be free of moisture infiltration. So if you know your roof leaks or has leaked in the past, if you see evidence of leaks or water damage, etc., your insulation is not in good shape. We can guarantee it’s damaged somewhere, and those areas need to be addressed.

The attic has mold or mildew growth

Similarly, mold and mildew growth is a 100% sign your home has moisture issues. It could be related to leaks or mold can be a sign the home humidity system is out of whack. However, there is a good chance attic insulation is damaged somewhere in the immediate vicinity wherever there is excessive moisture.

You haven’t replaced attic insulation in more than 10 years

If you’ve lived in your home for 10 years or more and haven’t had any insulation updating, your attic is under-insulated. As the EnergyStar website explains:

An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value -- the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density. The R-value of most insulations also depends on temperature, aging, and moisture accumulation. 

So, even if your insulation looks like it is in good shape, but it’s more than a decade old, it’s worth getting a professional’s opinion. Chances are the R-value isn’t as high as current recommendations or that age has depleted the insulation’s stated R-values.

Fluctuating temperatures and higher energy bills could mean your attic is under insulated

Have you noticed your home feels a little drafty? Are there hot/cold pockets as you move from one area to another? Are utility bills increasing in ways that don’t make sense, even with rising energy costs? If so, it could be your insulation. Air sealing and insulation go hand in hand. If you know your home is well-sealed, and you’re still having issues with fluctuating temperature, drafts, humidity, or high energy bills, insulation could be the culprit.

Update Your Insulation Before The Next Peak Hot Or Cold Season

In between peak hot and cold seasons is the best time to update your insulation. Contact Attic Solutions, at (510) 500-5007, and we’ll let you know whether or not your attic is under insulated so you can enjoy an energy-efficient and comfortable home again.

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