August 1, 2020

Living in San Antonio, TX, area means dealing with extreme temperatures and weather conditions. The long, hot summers, occasional strong storms, and intermittent frozen precipitation in the winter can wreak havoc on different parts of your home, including your attic. Adding insulation to your home’s attic is a smart decision for your wallet, comfort, and energy efficiency. However, it’s important to know the basics of attic insulation so that you can make an informed decision.

Types of Insulation

If you want to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, you’ll need an insulated attic. There are many types of insulation that can be installed in a home. Most attics use rigid board, loose-fill, or fiberglass batt insulation. Rigid boards are easy to cut and work around unusual shapes, slopes, or configurations. However, they can be a challenge to get into the attic. Loose-fill fits around tiny gaps and crevices. Installers use a special blower to place this type of insulation. Batts or rolls of insulation are fast and easy to install, and they work well in attics with a simple slope, few protrusions, and minimal crevices or small areas. Many batts or rolls of insulation include a radiant-resistant or vapor-resistant backing, which adds additional protection for your attic. Some other types of attic insulation you might consider include:

  • Sprayed foam
  • Foam-in-place
  • Structural insulated panels
  • Rigid fibrous boards

Insulation Materials

Most insulation used in attics is made from fiberglass. This is due to the low cost, wide availability, lightweight, and ease of installation of fiberglass. Individual fibers can break free, and breathing them can be harmful to your lungs. This is why it’s a good idea to have professionals install your attic insulation. Foam insulation is made from petroleum products, including polystyrene, polyurethane, and polyisocyanurate. Loose-fill insulation typically consists of cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral wool. Some other insulation materials you might consider for your San Antonio home are:

  • Plastic fibers
  • Wool or paper fibers
  • Cardboard
  • Foil-faced Kraft paper
  • Plastic film
  • Foam boards with straw cores

How Much Insulation You Need

San Antonio homes should have an R-value of 25 to 38. Each type of insulation has a different R-value. If your home’s attic currently has three to four inches of fiberglass batt or loose-fill insulation, you will need another six to 12 inches in order to reach the recommended R-value range. If your home is old, you should aim for the maximum recommended R-value. That’s because older homes have more air leaks. If your home was built in the last 10 years, it likely has a tight building envelope, and you could aim for the middle of the recommended R-value range for the area. Other considerations for how much insulation you need include:

  • Amount of direct sunlight
  • Elevation of the home
  • Nearby trees or buildings
  • Presence of attic windows
  • Amount of soundproofing you need
  • Reduction of allergens
  • Consistency of your home’s temperature

What R-Values Mean

R-value stands for thermal resistance value. It is a measure of resistance to heat flow. Heat can flow from your home to the outdoors or from the outdoors into your home. The purpose of insulation is to reduce that heat flow so that your home’s temperature remains consistent. The higher the R-value of insulation, the more resistance the material has against the flow of heat. Every type of insulation will state its R-value so you know how much you need to reach the Department of Energy’s recommended R-25 to R-38 for San Antonio and the surrounding communities.

Where to Put the Insulation in Your Attic

The placement of insulation in your attic depends on a few things, including:

  • Presence of ridge vents
  • Finished versus unfinished space
  • Presence of heat-generating fixtures
  • Presence of ducts, wires or pipes

No insulation should be placed around electrical boxes or lighting fixtures, as these devices get hot and may ignite the insulation. The insulation should extend horizontally along the floor of the attic to the edge of the wall. The insulation should extend up the slope of the attic’s walls to the roof’s peak. Your installation team will also place a vapor barrier. This prevents moisture from degrading the insulation.

How Attic Insulation Is Installed

The way insulation is installed depends on the type of insulation. Rolls or batts of insulation are unrolled and pressed into place. For rigid boards or blocks of insulation, they are installed between studs. They attach to the studs with furrow strips. Installers use a large blower to install loose or blown-in insulation. Sprayed or foamed-in insulation comes in a pressurized container. It begins as a liquid, and the air cures it into a hard foam. The installers spray it into the areas that need insulation. The product cures within minutes to hours, depending on the temperature and humidity level.

When to Replace Attic Insulation

If your home already has some insulation, you might wonder if you need to have it completely removed by a team of professional installers. Another potential option is to leave the old materials there as a base for the additional insulation. If your old insulation is in good condition, it can be left in place. Additional insulation can be placed on top of it in order to reach the recommended R-value. Turn to Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating when you have questions about replacement. If your San Antonio home’s insulation shows any signs of damage, our installers will remove it. Signs of damaged insulation include:

  • Scorch or burn marks
  • Moisture
  • Animal droppings
  • Animal nesting material
  • Pest carcasses
  • Severe compression, cracking or splitting

Cost to Insulate an Attic

The cost to insulate a San Antonio home’s attic ranges from $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot. These costs include materials and labor. Blown-in insulation is the lowest-cost material, followed by fiberglass batts. The highest cost of insulation is sprayed foam.

Benefits of Insulating Your Attic

There are many reasons to make sure that your attic has enough insulation. Your home won’t have as much heat transfer, so your heating and air conditioning expenses should decrease. Heat transfer from your home to the outdoors is a common cause of wintertime roof leaks, so your risk of roof damage will decrease after insulating your attic. Some additional benefits of insulating your attic are:

  • Noise reduction
  • Prevent water vapor damage
  • Extend roof lifespan
  • Prevent mold growth
  • Reduce allergens
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations between floors of your home
  • Reduce heating and cooling wear and tear

At Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating, we’re the trusted source of attic insulation for San Antonio area homeowners who want to save money, reduce their carbon footprints, and enjoy more comfortable interiors. Homeowners throughout the area turn to us for affordable heating and air conditioning maintenance, replacement, and installation services. Our 24/7 emergency repairs keep you comfortable day and night, all year long. For additional information about attic insulation or to schedule an appointment, call us at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating today.

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