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A homeowner using a ruler to measure the level of loose-fill spray-in attic insulation in their home.

Curious About Attic Insulation in Wichita? Here Are the Answers to Your Questions

Are you tired of paying high monthly energy bills that are bad in the summer and downright eye-watering in the winter? Suppose your windows and door jambs are in good shape, and your HVAC system is operating smoothly, but your energy costs still seem unnecessarily high. In that case, it is time to take a good, hard look at the next probable culprit — your attic insulation (or lack thereof).

Your attic may be more like a dusty, unfinished gap between your roof and your top floor than an actual, livable part of your home. Even if no one goes up there much, it will still need heat loss protection. Perhaps your Wichita home used to have sufficient attic insulation, which has deteriorated over time, or it was never properly installed to begin with. Professional attic insulation installation services will make your home more comfortable and save you a significant amount of money on your utility bills.

Wondering why Wichita attic insulation is so important, or what an R-value is? We have the answers to some commonly asked questions from Wichita homeowners, along with useful information from our experienced attic insulation team at Mr. Handyman of the Wichita Metro Area. We are a locally owned and operated Wichita handyman business that takes pride in always delivering excellent quality standard workmanship and customer service.

Why Does My Home Need Attic Insulation in Wichita?

It may seem counterintuitive at first that your attic space even needs to be insulated. If no one ever goes up there except once or twice per year to get the holiday decorations or abandon storage boxes, why does it matter if it is insulated or not?

While the actual space itself may not be very important in the lives of your family, the right protective material plays a big role in keeping your entire house comfortable and energy efficient. While installations in other parts of your house prevent heat loss, attic installations should prevent air movement and regulate indoor temperatures by keeping your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Here are three ways attic insulation will enhance livability of your Wichita home.

Lower Energy Costs

Most Wichita homeowners are not excited to pay their monthly utility bills. But suppose your attic insulation is inadequate or has deteriorated over the years. In that case, you are undoubtedly paying a lot more in energy costs than you would need to with sufficient insulation. Your heating and cooling costs are probably the biggest expenses on your energy bill, which is normal—your HVAC system uses lots of energy to keep your home at the temperature you have set on your thermostat. But those already-high charges can spin out of control if you have air leaks in your attic, even if your energy usage patterns haven't changed.

Adequate attic insulation is critical because it protects your Wichita home against extreme temperature fluctuations caused by heat gain or heat loss. That means your HVAC system doesn't need to operate as frequently or as long to control the temperature in your Wichita home, and that saves you a significant amount of money on energy costs. It also reduces the strain on energy resources, which is why the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency jointly run the Energy Star program to promote environmentally friendly energy efficiency. They certify consumer products that meet certain standards of efficiency.

Less Wear and Tear on Your HVAC

Because attic insulation decreases the frequency and length of time that your HVAC system has to operate, it greatly reduces wear and tear on your system. Your HVAC contains many moving parts that naturally degrade over time as they are used. Reducing the operation of the system will extend its lifespan so you can avoid repairs and replacement for longer.

Noise Muffling

If you live near a busy street, have to deal with nearby construction, or have noisy neighbors, you are probably interested in ways to prevent outside noise from coming into your home and disturbing your peace and quiet. As an added bonus, adequate attic insulation will help reduce outdoor noise inside your house. However, if your main goal is soundproofing, you will likely need to start with wall insulation.

What is the Difference Between Cold and Warm Attic Insulation?

When you hear talk of cold or warm insulation in attics, it actually has little to do with the material type and everything to do with where it is placed. A cold installation means the material installation occurs on attic floors. It prevents air movement and heat transfer between your attic and the floor below it. This benefits the rest of your Wichita home but leaves the attic cold. That can save you some money on your heating bills because there is less space for your heater or AC to cover. Suppose you have an unfinished attic space that is only used for storage or not used at all. In that case, cold installation is a cost-effective choice for insulation because less material is needed to cover the floor than the rafters.

As you have probably guessed, the warm installation covers the ceiling of your attic, which is the underside of the roof. If you have a finished attic that includes living space—or you plan to convert it into livable space in the future—you need a warm installation that will let your HVAC’s heat flow warm up the attic and prevent it from leaking out of the house.

Pro Tip: Insulation May Not Be Suitable for Your Roof

There is a potential problem with insulation in some older Wichita homes that homeowners should know. Older roofs, and roofs with wooden shingles, are designed to get wet and dry out naturally. They include gaps or vents that allow the moisture to collect and then dry out without causing issues for the roof. If those gaps are covered with material like fiberglass, the moisture will be trapped with no way to dry out, and it can seep into the roof’s wood. When timber reaches a moisture content of 20% or higher, it can suffer from wood rot, a form of decay that causes the wood to soften and crumble. Wood rot threatens the structural stability of your house, and in severe cases, it could cause ceiling joists or roof decks to collapse.

Your handyman will be able to assess your home and make a recommendation on whether installation is a safe choice for your roof. Regardless of the age or material of your roof, it likely has soffit vents that allow excess heat and humidity to be vented out of the attic space. Those air intake vents must be left uncovered by insulation to avoid moisture damage like wood rot. Here is more info on what you should know about soffits and fascia.

What Does R-Value Mean for Attic Insulation?

R-value is a measure of the effective heat resistance of the material. The approximate R-value is generally expressed per inch of thickness. Many important factors have an influence on R-value, such as the type, density, and thickness of the insulating material. Insulation with a higher R-value offers better climate control and energy efficiency, as well as a higher price point, but it is not necessary to choose the option with the highest possible R-value, because what you need for your Wichita home is dependent on the climate here. In Kansas, the minimum recommended R-value for attics is R38.

What Types of Attic Insulation Are Available in Wichita?

If you aren't sure what kind would work best for your home, our service professionals can offer some advice based on the unique needs of your building. Here are a few of the most common types of attic insulation in Wichita.

Fiberglass Batt Insulation

This is what comes into most people's heads when they think of insulating material—the classic "fluffy" pink stuff that looks like cotton candy. It is also called blanket insulation, and while it may look soft and comfy, it consists of tiny hair-thin shards of fiberglass that can cause injury if you come into contact with them. Batts are rolls, or "blankets," and fiberglass can also come in a loose-fill version that requires a vapor seal. But because it can get into every nook and cranny, it offers superior protection over the batt version.

Spray Foam Insulation

This type is applied with a sprayer and is made of polyurethane foam. It expands into every corner to form an airtight seal with a high R-value and is a high performance product that is increasingly popular with homeowners and home builders alike. Some advantages are it reduces moisture incursion and eliminates air leaks and doesn't require a vapor barrier. The only real downside is that it is the most expensive option.

Cellulose Insulation

For the most part, this loose-fill material is made of recycled wood pulp products—newspaper and cardboard. Because it involves reusing recycled material, it is the most environmentally friendly option. It is generally less expensive than fiberglass and offers a better R-value than most typical fiberglass installations. However, it does have some downsides. It absorbs moisture, which reduces its efficiency over time, eventually settling into a more compact form, reducing its R-value.

Mineral Wool

While it is pretty similar to fiberglass in structure, mineral wool consists of natural materials instead of glass. There are two varieties of mineral wool: slag wool, made from metal fibers that are a byproduct of iron ore waste, and rock wool, made out of natural stone fibers. It is naturally resistant to moisture and doesn't burn unless it is exposed to temperatures that exceed 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, so it has the bonus of acting as a fire barrier. It also offers superior soundproofing qualities.

How Often Should You Replace Attic Insulation in Wichita?

As a general rule of thumb, you should look at replacing your Wichita attic insulation every 15 to 20 years. However, factors may cause it to need replacement or retrofitting before that time. Those factors include the material type, the R-value of original material, and unexpected damage. Here are a few signs that indicate you need to think about retrofitting or replacing:

  • Rodent infestations

  • Increased charges on your energy bill

  • Fluctuating temperature or hot and cold zones in your house

  • Insulation has moved or appears to be compressed

  • Insulation is wet or showing signs of moisture damage

How Much Attic Insulation Do I Need to Buy?

The volume of material your home requires will vary based on factors such as:

  • Climate here in Kansas

  • Age of your house—if it is more than ten years old, you will likely need more than you would with a younger building

  • Square footage of your attic and overall building

  • Type of material you have chosen

Your Wichita handyman can offer you helpful advice on how much you will need to purchase to ensure your home is comfortable, efficient, and well protected against temperature changes.

We’ll Take Care of Your Wichita Attic Insulation Project

Are you a resident of Wichita or neighboring areas such as Benjamin Hills, Goddard, or Garden Plain? You can trust the team of attic insulation professionals at Mr. Handyman of the Wichita Metro Area to provide an outstanding quality of workmanship and customer service.

Pick up the phone and get in contact with us today at 316-285-1217 to schedule a convenient appointment time or chat with our knowledgeable customer service staff and find out more about all the ways we can help with home improvements and home repairs in Wichita, KS.