If you have recessed light fixtures in your home you may also have a significant volume of conditioned air escaping into your attic. You can stem the flow of air (and money) by air sealing your light fixtures from the inside with just a roll of painter’s tape, a can of spray foam insulation, and a tube of painter’s caulk.
My 1961 bi-level home has all original hardwood flooring on the top-level. Where the floorboards meet the wall they’re covered by baseboard and quarter round, which in some instances masks a board that’s just a little too short. It’s within these gaps that outside air infiltrates the house.
The air that sneaks in creates a draft and in our house it’s most pronounced in the rooms directly above the garage. It’s here where I began pulling the quarter round from the baseboard. In doing so I confirmed the gaps that were allowing outdoor air into the house.
With the culprit in sight it was then time to remove the rest of the quarter round and fill in those gaps!
A big culprit for air leakage in a home is through holes in the floor of the attic. These are often found in the top-plate, drop soffits, and chases and the volume of conditioned air that escapes through them is equivalent to leaving a window wide open the year round.
Air sealing these holes and gaps will greatly reduce the expensive flow of conditioned air from inside your home to outside. All it takes is the right tools, materials, and the patience to find and then cover and seal the offending areas.
Ducts that leak conditioned air into unconditioned spaces (such as your attic) can increase your heating and cooling bills.
Fear not, you can prevent that unnecessary waste by sealing and insulating your ducts with some inexpensive supplies and a little bit of effort.
Of the many prerequisite tasks to adding blown-in insulation to an attic, perhaps one of the most important is having an air tight and well insulated hatch to limit air infiltration.
What follows are the steps I took to increase the insulation and ensure a good seal between the unconditioned attic above and the conditioned room below.
One common source of air leakage in a home is through recessed light fixtures, otherwise known as can lights. They may look nice and illuminate well, but they’re a great conduit for conditioned air to leave the building envelope.
One way to improve home heating and cooling efficiency is to eliminate the passage of air through the recessed lights. The general idea is to cover and seal the lights, which I decided to do with a specialized insulation barrier called CanCoverIt that I sealed into place with spray foam insulation.
Chimneys are a great conduit for removing smoke and gases from your house, but they’re also notorious for allowing conditioned air to escape to the outside via the chase that surrounds them.
If that weren’t enough of a concern, they’re also fire hazards when carelessly insulated with materials that aren’t properly fire-rated.
Fear not, you can resolve both issues with a little know-how and the right type of materials.
Our 1961 bi-level house had a reasonable amount of blown-in fiberglass insulation in the attic when we moved in. This surprised us because homes from this era often aren’t well insulated, although it’s possible a previous owner added the insulation more recently. Regardless, we were pleasantly surprised to have nearly a foot of blown-in fiberglass in our attic.
Unfortunately, even though we had nearly an R-value of 30, it wasn’t evenly distributed due to some large gaps caused by previous home improvement projects. We also had no air sealing between the attic and the conditioned rooms below, which was an even bigger issue for us.
Due to these circumstances I decided to air seal our attic and blow in additional loose fill fiberglass insulation. What followed was nearly a year of intermittent preparation, although your experience and requirements will certainly vary! I only worked in the attic when the temperature was comfortable, which severely limited the times I could get work done.