, Newburyport, MA


February 11, 2014

The devil is in the details when insulating the attic


The solution for this homeowner is to take care of the details that others missed. He must ensure the recessed lights do not allow air to convect into the attic. The best options are either replacement with Insulation Contact Air-Tight (ICAT) fixtures that are sealed with caulking between the fixture and the dry wall or placing air-tight (and fire-grade) boxes over the lights, as long as there is a 3-inch gap between the fixtures and the boxes. A third option is to remove the lights and close off the holes with dry wall. The attic hatch needs to have more weather strip added so that it seals to the floor.

The last observable contributor to the lack of savings was an air gap left between the fiberglass and the dry wall that was hanging on strapping. This was caused when the insulation contractor simply blew the loose-fill cellulose over the existing fiberglass batt insulation, resulting in less effective insulation and unachieved savings. Infrared showed plenty of purple (cold air) circulating just above the ceiling. It is best to blow the loose-fill insulation over and under the fiberglass insulation so as to have a thick thermal blanket with no gaps. Overall the current insulation job is like wearing a winter coat — unzipped.

So, it’s those pesky details that can be very costly if not addressed. Hopefully, knowing the source of attic problems will allow homeowners and contractors to do the right things — right.


Tim Gould is the director of Informed Energy Solutions, Inc., located in Amesbury. Contact him at 978-388-6349. On the web at

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