Preparing the attic for winter is a tasking job for some of us. I don’t like the hustle. My hate for the job made me make a detailed checklist of things to do before winter arrives. Let me share my secrets of how to keep attic warm in winter.
Inspect your Attic before Winter
Not many people know the situation up there. Homeowners quickly close off the attic hatch and care less about what goes on. But that doesn’t go on for long because problems begin to show – that’s imminent.
Making sure that a check is done will bring your attention to the attic’s weaknesses. Then, you can work on bettering the situation. You can either hire a professional home inspector or take it as a DIY.
Energy Star advises and guides you on how to make a DIY check. In their guide, they take you through the following checks:
- Attic insulation levels
- Wall insulation leaves
- Air leaks
After the checks, you will know which way to go. A professional will advise on the suitable insulation options to take you through winter. As Energy.gov notes, insulation will involve one of the basic heat transfer mechanisms – conduction, and in this case, the absence of it. Whatever material you go for, heat loss via conduction to the outside will get reduced. Thus, the valuable energy oozing behind your four walls will remain inside.
Sometimes, what it takes is a short visual inspection. Then, all the attic problems will get identified.
Get your Attic Insulated
For warmer winters, the cheapest, most efficient method to take is insulation. The inspection done should reveal to you whether the existing insulation is torn, damaged, or advance in age. If the situation is not good, you can take any of the following options for the insulation material, says Energy.gov:
- Mineral wool
- Natural fibers
- Urea-formaldehyde foam
- Phenolic foam
- Cementitious foam
- Vermiculite & perlite
- Insulation facings
Of all the materials, the most effective is mineral wool. If you choose it, expect heat loss to go down by 50 percent. Mineral wool is not a cheap option, but you get value for every dollar you spend. The insulation mechanism is not straightforward, so I advise that you hire a professional.
Emptying your wallet to get your attic insulated sound painstaking, but there are huge paybacks.
Best Winter Attic Insulation types
Before proceeding with the crux of the matter, let us have a little discussion about the R-value. This metric is used on insulation material to address how resistance it is to heat flow. In the insulation world, the rule is that the material with better insulation is the one with a higher R-value.
As you make your cold-climate insulation move, here are the best options to put in consideration:
Apart from being widely available, this insulation type comes in different shapes and sizes. The R-value mark of this material is around 60, meaning that you will reap many benefits. Fiberglass insulation will:
- Save your money in terms of energy utility bills.
- Put little stress on your attic’s floor.
- Stay for long without rotting or decaying.
- Protect your house from mold, vermin, and insects.
- Fiberglass material is fire-retardant and eco-friendly, making it the best attic insulation option for the wintertime.
With an R-value of 49, cellulose is a good, pocket-friendly option. It performs well during cold periods and will fit unfinished floor attics. Also, it will fit ceilings perfectly.
With an average R-value of 5/inch, this option is easy to take on. You will spray on the attic’s wall, and once it becomes rigid, you will start to reap its benefits.
Fix any Leaks, Pipes, or Ducts
If your attic is not in good shape, the inspection may reveal broken pipes and dented ducts. Think about it this way – any entry point to your house could bring cold air during winter. It means that your home will lose energy, and I’m sure you don’t like the sound of that.
Check the plumbing vents a lot – they run from below the floor and work their way up to the roof. Also, any ductwork or piping that penetrates your house’s wall could be an avenue of energy wastage.
Caulking is one of the methods you can use to seal any unwanted cavities. A tube of caulk and a can of gap-sealing spray foam should sort the business out. Since the inspection has opened you up to the air leaks, it should be easy to find faults. Small gaps or cracks need the caulk, while wider ones need the foam.
Energy.gov advises that if you fix the air leaks in your home means, your air conditioner will not attract substantial utility bills – there will be a cut in the healing-cooling costs. Also, they will become durable – lasting past the winter period and your house’s comfort levels.
Sealed leaks mean that heat will stay longer in your house, and the winter’s coldness will not penetrate your home.
Roof Underlayment – An Advanced Option To Deal With Leaks
The roof spends all its time with the attic, so time to look up there. The shingles, panels, or tiles are called the roof covering, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. The covering rests upon a portion called the underlayment.
The roof underlayment is a waterproof layer of material, and taking care of it improves roof intactness and, importantly, preventing leakages. Wintertime is an intense period, and it would be best if you took proper care of the underlayment.
Now, let us look at the top underlayment’s styles that will fit these snowy and hard times:
Synthetic roof underlayment
As its name suggests, this type is made of, among other materials, plastics. Compared to traditional underlayment options, synthetic ones are tougher and can withstand snow and subzero beatings.
Depending on your roof’s shingle type and home, you can get a weight of your choice to block the cold and water from seeping in.
Organic roof underlayment
Popularly know as tar paper, organic underlayment is a pocket-friendly option and is the most used by many roofing systems.
This type of underlayment is not made for cold climates, but it can work regardless. Just makes sure that it has heavily-enough weight. That way, it can help to withstand storms of the wintertimes.
This specialized type of underlayment adds extra buffering to areas in your roof that are prone to leakages. They include valley, penetrations, and eaves.
During these snowy times, install the shield onto your eaves. Severe weather will require more shielding.
Get an Energy Audit Done
The US Department of Energy advises that homeowners understand the entire picture of the way they use energy. The audit will reveal the following:
- How much energy your home uses
- Where your home loses energy
- Where the problem areas are
- What fixes should you prioritize
- Recommendations for energy-saving improvements
Look at the second bullet – that’s all that winter doesn’t want. Once you find out the points of weakness, you can go ahead and make fixes. Energy edits can be done professionally or as DIYs. While a pro will do a thorough job, a diligent DIY report can complete the pinpointing business impressively.
Change the Coverings of your Attic Window
The Department of Energy, in a government-industry research effort, reports that window coverings could help you save significantly in terms of energy. So, you need to check how you operate your window treatments and make the necessary adjustments.
Since our focus here is winter, here are some window treatment options you may want to consider:
These items work best during wintertime. The fabric type of drapery will determine its ability to reduce heat loss. What you need to do is keep the drapes drawn, especially during winter nights. This move will reduce heat loss by 10%.
Whether they are cellular, pleated, dual, or quilted roller, shades are simple solutions for insulation. A dark shade will absorb the little solar energy during winter and warm up your rooms.
Close out any Access Points
Well, this one is not scientific at all. Rodents and other wild animals will also try to escape the winter’s cold, don’t you think? Bees, Raccoons, rats, squirrels and wild birds will try to enter your home, so you need to check your compound. What about mice? They can get into your home via small holes.
Check if there are any non-human access points, and get a handyman to fix them. Importantly, it would help if you focused on utility lines, roof vents, pipes, and window cases. Any place where there is a meeting of building materials is a line a weakness.
Ensure the Attic is fitted with Proper Ventilation
The issue that affects the attic during winter is moisture, and that is where ventilation comes in. According to a presentation prepared by the Weatherization Assistance Program, attic ventilation reduces moisture vapor during winter.
As temperatures fluctuate, condensation forms in your attic. When this happens, damage to your possessions becomes unavoidable. The items stored in the attic can get mold and mildew growing all over them. Mold is just a fancy name for rot.
One way to ventilate your attic is by using attic fans. The spinning of blades means that the hot air produced by cooking or showering is countered by cooler air – from time to time. Although moisture will form, it will not accumulate in your attic, and your items will survive winter.
Best winter attic ventilation solutions – Vents and Fans
To have the best attic insulation, home improvement experts recommend that for every 300 ft3 (cubic feet) of in-attic space, you need 1ft2 (square foot) of ventilation.
Also, ensuring proper in-attic airflow needs a one-to-one ration of exhaust and intake vents. While roof ventings allow natural ventilation to occur, the market provides for mechanical solutions.
These types of vents allow air into the attic, and they exist in three varieties:
These get fitted at the highest point of the roof’s peak – in the gables. They often get painted, and the market avails many styles that will blend in with your home’s exterior. Gable vents can work for exhaust and intake purposes, depending on what direction the wind is moving in.
This type of duct is a perforated and continuous vent installed in the eaves of your house. If you are going for these vents, have in mind that they can undoubtedly get covered over. If they go, they’ll become inefficient.
Together with under-eave vents, rafters give clear airways. They are fitted along the attic’s rafters, where the attic floor and the ceiling meet.
These vents let moistly warm air to get pushed out of the attic, and they include:
These vents make tracks along the roof’s ridge and are unrecognizable since shingles disguise them.
Turbine vents have peculiar looks – they have a small fan that spins as the breeze blows. It operates by sucking warmly moist air out of the attic and expelling it the outside. They get fitted near the roof’s ridge or on it.
Attic Ventilation Fans
With the spin of the blades, these mechanical items move warm air outside – which is lighter – and draw in cold air from the outside. Vents systems complement the fans – the warm air gets blown into the ventilation before it is expelled outside. In winter, the fans reduce the moisture levels in the air.
Also, it takes care of ice damming issues, which can prove problematic to your house. The best fan to get during winter is an electricity-powered one, and this solution can be costly.
How to keep attic warm in winter is not something we can ignore. Warming up a under insulated and improperly vented attic may increase our electricity cost up to 30% in winter. Not only that, our hvac system may under perform and add up the cost as well. So, we should get prepared to tackle the harsh winter before it arrives.
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