As we all learned in science class at school, hot air rises. Therefore, if not properly sealed, heat from the home is likely to escape into the attic. While insulation is a positive step in keeping heat in the home, and many utility companies offer insulation rebates, it isn’t enough. Today, we have some brilliant advice in the shape of a step-by-step guide for sealing your attic (and protecting your wallet!).
What Will You Need?
To complete this DIY seal, you should first buy a mask (for protection) and wear protective clothing (i.e. long-sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, and glasses. In terms of equipment, you’ll only need spray foam but, depending on your attic, you might also require a utility knife, fire caulk and caulk gun, scrap metal, scrap wood (for sitting, standing, and kneeling), foam insulation board, draw hasps (two), and self-stick weather stripping.
Seal the Attic
1) Firstly, the best way to spot leaks is by looking for dirty insulation since this traps any dust/dirt that comes up with the heat. Be sure to look everywhere including the top of walls, electrical outlet boxes, cabinets, and drilled electrical wire holes. As long as you only place your weight on trusses and affixed wood (rather than the insulation itself), you can lift the insulation to look for weak spots.
2) Next, start in one corner and look for interior wall top plates. After finding dirty insulation, move it and use your spray foam to fill the gaps.
3) If accessible, you can also use the spray foam on each room’s lighting electrical box. If electrical wires go through the ceiling, create an air-tight cap with the foam (as opposed to spraying it down the wall).
4) Although more difficult, we also recommend looking for recessed lighting. Non-IC fixtures should NEVER have insulation nearby because this presents a fire risk, but you can invest in recessed lighting boxes. Without it, having no insulation or any protection will allow heat to escape rather easily.
5) If you see pipes, these should be your next victim with the spray foam. If you spot batted insulation around the pipes, pick up a utility knife and fill the hole (with anything solid) before then foaming any gaps.
6) Unfortunately, many have problems with their bathroom vent fan so we have some advice. Firstly, they need to be vented to the outside; if there’s no access to the soffits, some homeowners like to vent it to the gable vent. Secondly, insulation is important and should be checked even if it has been vented correctly. We recommend insulated ductwork and a sealed box for your vent fans.
7) Returning to something more simple, one of the biggest leaks of all could be coming from attic hatches and pull-down ladders. While you can’t foam it down permanently, you can attach weather stripping with the sticky side on the casing. Two draw hasps can then be used to pull the ladder down; batted or foam insulation can also sit on the underside of the hatch.
8) With all these tips, you should soon notice a difference in your home’s ability to retain heat. Elsewhere, any hot surfaces should NEVER be insulated with foam (this includes chimneys and stove exhaust pipes. Instead, use scrap metal for large gaps and flame-resistant caulk for smaller gaps.
9) Additionally, feel free to check the duct work on AC units. If you find any loose connections, tape them down and use caulk for security. If you don’t have rafter vents installed, these will also help hot attic air to be vented; cool air is pulled in as hot air escapes.