Can I install, replace, or add insulation myself?
By Thomas Elzinga and Energy Star
If you are trying to save money or reduce the wait time from trying to schedule a contractor to complete the work, you may be asking yourself if you could, update, or replace the insulation and air seal your home for better indoor air quality. The answer is yes, you can!
Once you know what to look for, you can seal air leaks all around your home on your own. Then when everything is sealed, adding insulation to your attic will make your home more comfortable.
However, if you don’t consider yourself handy then you may prefer hiring a knowledgeable contractor to help. Contractors have experience along with tools and instruments they can use to find problems areas quickly. They also know the proper materials to seal leaks and can add insulation efficiently.
The first tip before beginning your project is safety. Above all else, take precautions to avoid a dangerous working environment when working in the attic and crawlspace. Use a mask rated to prevent inhalation of dust and insulation fibers. Also, wear old clothes, gloves, knee pads, eye protection and remember to watch your step on ceiling joists or truss chords.
Second, if you are looking at adding insulation to what you already have there are some things to consider. You can add new insulation on top of old insulation, unless it is wet, rotted, or infested. If it is wet or appears that the insulation has previously been wet, you should look for the cause and repair the problem to prevent a reoccurrence. Remove any wet insulation. Wet insulation can lead to mold, mildew, or even the rotting of your ceiling or roof rafters. If there are signs that ants, termites, mice, squirrels, or other pests are living in the attic insulation, remove the infestation and treat the area (including closing access holes) before adding more insulation.
If you discover vermiculite insulation in your attic, be sure to have it tested for asbestos before doing work there. If the test reveals that asbestos is present, the vermiculite should be removed by a certified removal expert before disturbing it with the installation of more insulation. Learn more at, https://www.epa.gov/asbestos.
From this point there are some great tips and requirements for installing insulation from both Energy Star and CEC. Energy Star’s tips, A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR: Sealing Air Leaks and Adding Attic Insulation are a great way to help identify where you might have some air leaks. For best practices and meeting CEC specifications for our insulation rebate program, if your home qualifies, please visit this link, bpa-weatherization-specifications-best-practices-guide.pdf (cec.coop).
Lastly, you may be asking how much insulation you should have in your home. Ideally both your walls and crawlspace should have the cavity joists completely filled with insulation. For the attic you will want to have a minimum of R-49 insulation installed. As always, for any questions please reach out to one of our energy services representatives.