Attic voids are tricky. They hide beneath your Attic insulation, out of sight & out of mind. They could be anywhere: above a shower, above a closet, surrounding a cinder-block chimney or simply a large hole that was cut for electrical wiring or plumbing vent stacks. Wherever they are in your attic and no matter the size they pose a problem. They are penetrations in your ceiling vapor barrier. Attic voids compromise your Home’s ability to keep heat and moisture out of your Attic space. They allow heat to rise up from your conditioned living spaces into your Attic. They also allow cold air from your Attic to travel down within your interior walls. Ever had a cold wall inside your House and wondered why? It could be that winter air in the Attic is descending down into your living spaces. Older homes are rife with voids. They didn’t manage air flow to the same extent that we do today. If you have an older home invite IDEAL to inspect your Attic. If it has been longer than 10 years since anyone has added any insulation there is most likely some positive impact that IDEAL can provide. We’ll also provide a full site inspection of your Attic where we seek out potential issues such as attic voids.
the space within the roof area of a building. Where insulation is located.
A new energy efficiency research company launched this year that is providing homeowners and contractors with new data on residential heat loss. My Heat uses technology born at the University of Calgary to provide a Heat Score for houses that have been scanned with a Thermal camera from the air. These scores can be used to identify hot or cold areas in a home, largely focused upon the attic/roof. As a homeowner you can now see a thermal scan of your home where you can identify warm or cold areas. There is much to be learned of their sources, heat loss can be due to construction factors such as insufficient insulation, voids allowing for cold or hot air to pass or appliance issues such as furnaces. Lifestyle factors such as number of inhabitants, cooking/laundry/washing habits or heating factors such as furnace and fireplace will also impact a My Heat score.
With this information homeowners and contractors have a comparative score that can be used to identify heat loss quantitatively. This information is very new and subsequent scans and casual relationships must be reviewed in order to properly understand it’s relevance to homeowner lifestyle and home construction techniques. On the surface it is an exciting opportunity to measure overall heat loss on a scale that was previously unavailable. Here at IDEAL we are very interested to see how our work with insulation applications and products will impact the My Heat scores of our customers. My Heat is currently offering data on the town of Okotoks, AB with plans to scan more cities in the near future. You can learn more at www.myheat.ca Stay tuned!
Soffit ventilation is an important part of a healthy Attic. Older homes rely on fresh air to be drawn in through the soffit vents. The air fills the soffit cavity and then travels over the wall plate (under the roof) and into the Attic space. When inspecting an existing Attic we find all to often that this transition from soffit to attic space is congested, blocked, hampered by existing insulation or completely inaccessible. As insulators we do our best to free up the ventilation from the perimeter, but it is not always possible. If we can’t physically reach out to the perimeter due to low slope roof pitch then there is little we can do. Often in older homes there are 2×4’s framed in place that block soffit ventilation that can only be removed from the outside with the soffits open.
It is always encouraging to find attics like the one pictured below where the current plywood insulation stops are low enough to allow for ample air flow, as evident by the amount of daylight that appears in this picture. We have excellent access to the perimeter which will allow us to install new styrofoam air chutes, which will maintain the intake air flow and help minimize insulation contact with the underside of the roof. We can handfill the insulation under the new air chutes to ensure the exterior wall plate is insulated and then proceed with blowing the new loosefill fiberglass. There is a high certainty that this attic will continue to vent properly with improved insulation qualities.
IDEAL Insulation & Roofing is proud to be recognized as one of HomeStars Best of 2016 Award winners for Calgary, AB. HomeStars is one of the most trusted online forums connecting consumers with residential contractors. It has become a valuable tool to promote current jobs as well as communicate with prospective clients. When our customers tell us that they read positive reviews on our company we know that they are speaking of HomeStars. To be selected as a HomeStars Best of 2016 Award winner exemplifies the role that they play in our business and our communication with future clients to come. Thank you HomeStars!
Identifying Mold in your home can be a scary proposition. Why is it there? How long has it been an issue? Is it dangerous to the health of myself and my family? These questions are best answered by a qualified mold remediation professional. To help research this topic the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has published a detailed document on identifying mold. It’s a case study prepared for a Saskatchewan First Nations community that experienced overland flooding but their insights can apply to all households that experience mold growth. The document pertaining to Homeowners identifying mold is located HERE.
IDEAL Insulation & Roofing encounters mold on projects frequently, most often during the winter months due to condensation. It is often the result of excessive moisture generated in the Home due to lifestyle coupled with poor Attic ventilation and insufficient insulation. IDEAL can often help with improving these factors to aid your efforts in removing the source of the mold from your home. Contact IDEAL today to schedule a free site inspection where we will share our expertise in identifying the insulation & roofing issues within your home.
Attic moisture sources can be difficult to diagnose. The sources can range from framing voids, compromised ceiling vapor barrier, electrical or plumbing penetrations, attic hatches or the ever increasing volume of recessed lighting fixtures. One of the most common attic moisture source is something that is quite easy to identify: bathroom exhaust fan vent hoses. All too often these exhaust mechanisms are poorly installed or improperly vented to the outside. Thus creating a significant source of heat & moisture that is introduced to the Attic space with each shower and bath use.
Take a look at the photo below. You can clearly see that there are 2 individual bath fan vent hoses that are sharing a single exhaust vent. Neither looks properly fastened to the Gooseneck roof exhaust vent and the other is simply pointed at the penetration in the roof sheathing. Around these hoses you can see the evidence of moisture and the subsequent damage to the wooden trusses and plywood. The frost that his building on the plywood & nail heads is a direct result of the moisture these hoses are contributing to the Attic space.
The remedy is simple. Install an individual gooseneck roof exhaust vent for each and every bath fan, clothes dryer and kitchen hood exhaust fan that is exhausted through the attic. Make sure that the connection at the fan source & roof vent is secure to prevent air leakage. It is easy to replace older metal pipes with the newer pre-insulated flexible hose that can be cut to length and snaked through the attic to meet your needs. IDEAL is happy to provide this service to your bath fans during our Attic insulation upgrade services. Call today for your FREE inspection.
Pot lights. Everyone loves them. They are chic, minimalist and used frequently in both new construction and renovations. Unfortunately they represent a penetration in the ceiling vapor barrier that when improperly air sealed can be a source of unwanted heat and moisture into the Attic space. To properly air seal pot lights one must first install an I-C rated pot light, gasket-sealed tight to the ceiling drywall. Then a poly boot should be installed over the light, preferably by an electrician who can properly fish electrical wires through the boot while installing the light itself. Next the poly boot should be sealed with caulking to the ceiling vapor barrier. The flanges of the poly boot may also be tape sealed for extra assurance of proper air seal, as in the photo below. If these steps are followed to completion both contractor and homeowner can rest assured that this potential source of heat and moisture is mitigated, saving future headaches down the road.
R-value is the unit of measurement used to gauge a material’s ability to reduce the rate of heat flow. Everything has an R-value and in insulation it is used to rate the effectiveness and quality of products. Different products have different R-value characteristics which are often compared by inch-depth. A standard fiberglass batt has a different R-value per inch-depth than loosefill fiberglass, cellulose, JM Spider or spray foam insulation.
We use insulation most commonly in residential construction within the wall and ceiling cavities. Its purpose is to hold heat within the conditioned spaces, the interior of your home, and slow down the rate of transfer to the outdoors. Walls are most commonly insulated with Fiberglass batts which have the lowest R-value per inch-depth. JM Spider Custom insulation is an innovative system that creates a higher r-value per inch-depth using loosefill fiberglass and resin. Spray Foam insulation, in either ½lb open-cell or 2lb closed-cell offers the highest r-values. Spray Foam is also excellent in areas that are difficult to insulate traditionally such as Floor Joists & Cantilevers.
For Attics the standard remains loosefill fiberglass insulation. At IDEAL we utilize Climate Pro insulation developed by Johns Manville, one of the largest insulation manufacturers in North America. Climate Pro is formaldehyde free and offers ease of installation to ensure your attic will be insulated to a quality standard with minimal heat loss.
Insulation within finished wall and floor cavities are difficult/impossible to improve without renovation. Flat ceiling attic spaces on the other hand are readily accessible and often easy to upgrade the insulation R-value. During an attic upgrade inspection IDEAL will identify the current R-value of your attic insulation and specify the additional loosefill fiberglass insulation required to achieve our recommended R-Value of 50. Ventilation and vapor barrier performance is also considered and scope of work quoted. By increasing your attics insulation you can expect increased comfort within your home and potential savings on your energy bill.
One of the most important factors in keeping a healthy energy efficient home is to ensure the entire envelope of your building is air sealed. Much like a balloon, poking holes in your homes building envelope will let air escape. As heat rises, an area of prime concern is the ceiling vapor barrier, or air sealing attic floor. Problems can occur within Attics when the warm moisture laden air from your living spaces (cooking, showering, inhabitants, etc.) meets cold air circulating in the attic. As warm, moist air collects on the underside of the roof freeze-thaw weather actions cause wood rotting and ceiling stains from dripping water.
There are many sources of penetrations in your ceiling or attic floor such as framing voids, ducts, plumbing stacks, bath fans and of course the attic hatch. Pot lights are common ceiling penetrations that are best sealed with a pre-formed poly boot, fitted over the light by an electrician during installation. It is important to note that only IC-rated potlights should be used in Attic spaces so they are safe to be in contact with insulation. Insulation alone in an attic does not act as vapour barrier to stop living space moisture escaping into the attic. At IDEAL Insulation our attic inspectors check all of these examples of penetrations in your attic floor. We weather-strip and insulate all attic hatches to ensure the least amount of air leakage from this source into your attic. All identifiable penetrations are sealed in the attic with poly repairs or canned hilti foam if required.
In an attic with an extensively damaged vapour barrier IDEAL can remove your current attic insulation and then install spray foam to the attic floor. 2lb closed cell spray foam is used which contains the required moisture resistant properties. You can insulate the entire attic floor with spray foam or install loosefill fiberglass insulation over top of the cured foam to reach the desired completed R-value.
- Electrical cable penetrations
- Access hatch
- Gaps near chimneys
- Plumbing vent pipe
- Unsealed soffit
- Utility chases
- Duct penetrations
Read a great article on the Construction Instruction website discussing some of the same factors we do here on our IDEAL blog. You can read the full article HERE. There is also a nice visual representation of Attic insulation factors that you can view HERE.
– proper vapor barrier seal between living spaces and Attic
– installing Air chutes, or styro-foam baffles, along the perimeter of the Attic space to ensure proper air flow intake from the soffit cavity
– insulating up to and over the external wall plates to ensure full coverage of the Attic floor
– the importance of an R-value of R50 in colder climates