There is a common misconception that insulation is there to “keep your house warm” during the cooler months. In fact, adequate attic insulation is just as important during the summer months.
A free consultation with a licensed insulation contractor is the best way to determine if you need to install or replace attic insulation, as well as any other updates for a more energy-conscious home envelope.
The roof absorbs a tremendous amount of heat from the sun - called solar heat gain. This heat transfers directly into your attic space, which then migrates into the living spaces. On a hot summer day, attic temperatures can get as high as 150 to 160 degrees F, even if outdoor temperatures never go above the low-90s.
The combination of convection (hot air rises) and the natural movement of hot air moving into cooler air spaces (because warm air particles move more and faster than cold air particles) means all that hot air is trying to move into the attic’s adjacent living spaces.
With the installation of adequate insulation at the right R-value for your home’s exposure and microclimate, insulation products block this heat transfer, keeping your home much cooler.
The attic is frequently the main pathway for HVAC ducts. If your ducts are not insulated properly, the heated attic air will transfer through the ducts and into the cool air stream. That means that it takes far longer to cool your home.
Within a short amount of time, uninsulated ductwork means your HVAC system works overtime, all of the time. In the summer, the attic’s hot air will infiltrate the cool air stream, and in the winter the colder attic space will cool the duct’s warm airflow. All the extra work the HVAC system does to maintain your home’s thermostat settings means more wear and tear, more frequent repairs or issues, and more expensive annual repair and replacement costs.
If your home requires updated or replacement insulation, the lifetime savings and cost benefits are well-worth the initial, first-time payment. According to energy.gov, your upgraded insulation costs will be recouped within as little as five years. For some households, it can take longer than that but is still gained back within the new insulation’s lifetime as long as homeowners have addressed all aspects of an energy-efficient home envelope.
Insulation and home humidity control go hand in hand. When warm air meets cooler surfaces, condensation occurs. This is much more likely to occur in an attic with an outdated roofing system and/or inadequate insulation. The temperature extremes between the indoor and outdoor surfaces result in condensation issues. If your insulation is damp or wet as the result of unnoticed or untreated moisture accumulation, it can’t do the job it was designed to do.
In addition to warming the interior, moist or damp attics and/or attic insulation also leads to fluctuating humidity levels in the interior of your home that compromise interior comfort. As you know, humidity makes temperatures feel warmer. So, if humidity levels are elevated in your home during the warmer months, household occupants will want to keep the thermostat even lower than it needs to be, which means more wear and tear on your HVAC and higher energy bill. If your home struggles with high moisture levels, we can talk to you about the use of radiant barriers and whether they’re right for your home.
Over time, this can lead to mold and mildew growth. Once that happens, your home’s structural integrity is compromised and moisture damage that goes untreated for too long can lead to costly structural repairs and renovations.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an umbrella term that encompasses the quality of the air in your home. Did you know that most Americans worry about outside pollution when, in fact, the air in their homes is much more polluted than the outside air? Proper ventilation is always a primary factor when updating insulation and sealing air leaks. However, the improved humidity levels as the result of updated insulation also mean your home is less susceptible to mold and mildew spores.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dedicates multiple pages on their site to the risks of untreated mold issues, how to clean it up, and how untreated mold/mildew can lead to health issues. They write:
Molds are usually not a problem indoors unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions) and irritants. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.
Your insulation contractor will completely clean up and sanitize any evidence of mold or mildew colonies - both previous and current. We’ll also determine why it occurred and create a plan to prevent it from the future. Proper sealing of your home’s envelope is key, as is proper ventilation. Finally, the installation of new insulation will work to minimize future mold colonization.
The team here at Attic Solutions offers a full-service menu to take care of your home’s attics and crawl spaces. From updating or replacing insulation to rodent/pest and mold/mildew removal and professional cleanouts and sanitization, we can do it all. Contact us for a free assessment and consultation and to learn more about the importance of attic insulation during the summer months.