House Not Cooling? Check the Attic’s Insulation
If poor cooling performance is an issue, before you blame your HVAC system, check out your air sealing and insulation status first.
Heat energy is always in motion and enters a home by direct air leaks or by conduction and radiation resulting from inadequate insulation. Particularly in the attic, proper insulation forms the vital barrier to stop heat infiltration that makes your A/C struggle to keep up with the cooling load.
Many homes were built with only a few inches of attic insulation and are severely under-insulated by today’s standards. Move into the 21st century by upgrading air sealing and insulation and lower cooling costs while boosting comfort. An HVAC professional can perform an energy audit to assess the air tightness of your home as well as the amount and quality of insulation.
First, Seal Leaks
Installing new insulation doesn’t stop direct air leakage. Therefore, first locate ceiling cracks and gaps that allow hot air to flow between the attic and living spaces. Use caulking to seal around the joint between the walls and ceiling, as well as around recessed ceiling lights and any openings where plumbing pipes or vents enter the attic. Install weatherstripping to seal the attic access hatch or pull-down stairs, too.
What Kind Of Insulation?
Insulation is upgraded by adding new material atop existing layers. New layers can be of a different type, too. Most attic insulation is either pre-cut fiberglass batts—that pink, cotton candy stuff that rolls out between ceiling joists—or cellulose loose-fill, pulverized bits of paper and fabric blown into the attic by compressed air.
How Much Insulation?
Insulation’s effectiveness is rated by its heat resistance or “R-factor.” Recommended insulation is expressed by total R-value: the base R-factor times the installed depth in inches. Here in southern Ohio, the Department of Energy recommends insulating the attic to at least R38. For fiberglass batts, that translates to a minimum of 12 inches in depth and, for cellulose loose-fill, at least 10 inches.
For more on the virtues of proper air sealing and insulation, contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
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"We scheduled an estimate AND a tune-up. We knew something was wrong with our furnace, but hoped we could make it through the rest of the season. Upon telling Bill what our furnace was doing, he warned us immediately what the possible outcome was going to be; a cracked heat exchanger. He watched the flames roll backward, tested carbon monoxide levels, which were so high they meter’s last reading was 5,600 before saying “high”. He immediately shut it down, tagged it, and explained that with levels that high and children in our home he wanted off right away. He continued his inspection and showed us via a camera that not only was it cracked in multiple places, but had holes all over it. He gave us a few options for repairing it; his knowledge as well as genuine concern was beneficial and refreshing. Luckily we also scheduled an estimator, Micah, to come too and we were able to get costs between repairing and replacing (with several options). We decided to replace with a much higher efficiency furnace and one sized properly to our home. Hands down, not only did they both provide us great service and knowledge, but without sounding dramatic, they may have saved our lives. This was our first time calling Apollo, but it won’t be our last."
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