Are you concerned about energy loss or potential issues in your attic but unsure where to start?
Discover how an attic thermographic inspection can help identify hidden problems and improve the energy efficiency and comfort of your home.
The attic is the space between the ceiling and the pitched roof of the house. While many people use this space as a kids’ fun room or storage space, the space is actually meant for ventilation. In hot climates, the attic helps to explain solar heated air, so as not to burden the cooling system in the house. The attic works in the reverse in very cold climates. It will prevent warm air from escaping outside, to ensure the house stays warm.
As such, the attic is a very essential part of the house. It needs to be properly ventilated for it to be effective. However, just like the other parts of the house he can be affected by wear and tear, as well as get damage by one factor or the other. While you’re home or building is being inspected, the attic should never be left behind.
If there are electric systems or plumbing system running through the attic they need to be inspected as well. The main part of inspecting the attic is investigating the condition of its insulation to ensure it can carry out its purpose effectively.
The attic can be insulated in two ways. If the climatic conditions in your area do not get to either extreme, you can use the attic as a fun place for kids or for storage, and therefore insulate it like the rest of the house. This is known as finished attic insulation.
If the climatic conditions in your area can get an either very hot or very cold, the job of the attic is to keep your house warm while it’s very cold outside or cool when it’s very hot outside. In this case, the attic is insulated with a method called the unfinished attic insulation. Below we expound more these two methods of attic insulation.
Finished Attic Insulation
As mentioned above a finished attic insulation seeks to make the attic a livable space. The attic is insulated just like the rest of the house. You are going to get the ceiling and attic walls insulated. Most modern attics are fully insulated during the construction of the house. If your house is an older model, the attic might be under insulated but you can raise the R-value when need be. However, you may not be able to get through all the openings. In some instances, the ceiling is always closed off to people and you’d have to dismantle the drawer or other finished material. You can try to access from behind the sidewalls though.
You can insulate a finished attic in two ways. One, if you want to only insulate the living space of the attic, you need to wrap the insulation over the room’s ceiling and walls. You should then continue along the floor of the space you won’t be using leaving the sidewalls bare. When insulated like that, the area behind the sidewalls remains either very hot or very cold depending on the weather conditions outside. If you want to insulate the whole area, make sure you apply the insulation all the way from the roof lining to the floor.
Experienced house builders, will tell you that a perfect roof should be able to breathe. That means that it should be able to easily move from the eaves to the roof through convection. In such a setting, the attic remains cold during the winter, therefore preventing ice dams but could potentially damage your roof and at times even the house.
It is important to not forget to provide ventilation while insulating the attic. You have to install special rafter vents for ventilation. These vents allow air to-floor behind the insulation. That means the living space in the attic will remain warm and cozy, while the roof stays nice and cold therefore holding warm air inside the house. You should ensure the eave events placed at the bottom of the rafters as well as the ridge vents do not have any obstructions so to allow air to flow freely.
Keep note of the recessed backs the lights that come into the ceiling. They will go beneath the attic floor and the insulation should not touch them. Your insulation should not interfere with the electrical wiring in the house. Make sure any cables that have been laid in the attic have secure and robust trunk covers. Avoid covering any other heat-generating fixtures in the attic while installing the insulation.
Unfinished Attic Insulation
As mentioned above, unfinished attic insulation is a necessity in areas where the temperatures outside can get to either extreme. It is therefore important to ensure that your house is as comfy as possible. The attic can be one of the primary spots for heat loss or heat gain in your home. You, therefore, need to have it under proper control.
An unfinished attic is completely empty. It is just a space between the roof and the ceiling. You need to prepare it for insulation installation by placing planks or plywood sheets over the floor joists in order to be able to freely move in the attic. While in the attic do not ever step on the joists as they may crumble and break through the ceiling.
As mentioned above, it is important to also ensure that all electrical boxes and conductors are properly covered or trunked. Start caulking up any spaces through which air may pass between the joists and the rooms underneath. Be careful while working around light fixtures pipes and ducts so that you do not damage them. Apply some weather-stripping over the arctic entryway and ensure you have proper ventilation to avoid moisture attention.
The next step involves installing a vapor barrier. The barrier can be installed using batts and blankets insulation. These two come with vapor resistant facing. Some types of rigid foam insulation might be vapor resistant as well. Many of them require additional protection though. For such, you have to install a thin sheet of polythene underneath the insulation to ensure moisture is kept at bay. Use the unfaced insulation in areas near the flues and chimneys. You should also use over areas where you are just adding some insulation over an old one that had already been installed.
While installing the batts and blankets, ensure the vapor resistant side is facing down. Start at a wall on one side, and install the insulation as you move towards the center of the floor of the attic. The insulation should be placed between the joists and tightly tucked in to ensure a snug fit. You should be careful to ensure you do not compress the material while you’re putting it in place. The insulation should overlap the top plate on the exterior wall. For additional protection, make sure to install the insulation over the top of the joists too.
Use a loose fuel blower to secure the insulation into the spaces between the joists. Begin from the wall on one side and work your way towards the center of the attic. Ensure you’re paying close attention to the areas where the installation must go around obstructions. Remember to leave all the vents uncovered to ensure air is flowing freely.
Thermographic Inspections for The Attic
After going through all the troubles of insulating your attic, you must ensure that it is functioning properly as far as insulating your home is concerned. The best way to ascertain the condition of your attic is through thermographic inspections. Thermographic inspections involve a technology known as infrared thermographic imaging.
Infrared thermographic imaging involves the use of an infrared camera that captures images of thermal differences. The attic is designed to have a different temperature than the rest of the house so as to insulate the house and keep it at the desired temperature. As such, the temperatures in the attic should always be very different from those in the room. As we mentioned above, during the winter the attic must remain very cold in order to lock in warm air in the house. In very hot climates, the attic should remain hot so that call air is trapped inside the house.
Inspecting the attic using the infrared thermographic camera is quite an easy endeavor. Experienced inspectors know what to expect from an attic that is working properly. As such, all they need to do is scan the attic using the infrared camera and note whether the temperature difference between it and the air inside the house are significant enough. You can also purchase an infrared thermographic camera and do the scan yourself. It is not particularly rocket science. You just need to know how to read the temperature readings on the infrared thermographic camera.
Apart from the insulation, it is important to ensure other systems such as the electrical and plumbing system within the attic in proper condition. The infrared thermographic inspection scan can help with these as well. If any of these systems are faulty or damaged the faults can be noted through a thermographic inspection.
For instance, if a water pipe that passes through the attic is leaking, certain parts within the attic are going to be wet and moist. Wet and moist patches are easily picked up by the infrared thermographic camera. These patches tend to absorb more of the surrounding heat than the rest of the services. They will, therefore, appear different on the camera’s screen. Faulty electrical systems tend to get very hot as well, if any of the electrical conductors or components in the attic is faulty, the camera will read an unusually high temperature. The distinct shape and color of these components on the camera’s screen helps the inspector identify which component has a problem. Identifying some of these issues is quite easy in an extremely cold attic.
Advantages of Infrared Thermographic Inspections
After you have installed insulation in your attic and ascertained that it is working properly, you need to keep inspecting it to make sure it stays in good condition. Nobody wants to keep climbing back into the attic unless it is very necessary, especially if it is a fully insulated attic. Infrared thermographic inspections are quite advantageous because they eliminate the need to climb into the attic again unless there is a repair to be done.
While inspecting the condition of your attic using the infrared thermographic camera, you can scan the attic from inside the house or from outside the house. You do not need to climb into the attic. Even when investigating the condition of the pipes and electrical fittings in the attic, you won’t have to go in there. The imaging camera can easily imagine all these components from a distance.
Whether you are using the attic as a kids’ playroom or as a storage space, it is important to ensure that all the vents are working properly. The living space within the attic should remain comfy and warm when it’s cold outside, and cold when it’s very hot outside just like inside the house. Note that for a finished attic there is some insulation space between the living space, the walls, and the ceiling. This layer of air is the one that acts as insulation. It should remain cold when it is very cold outside, and warm when it’s very hot outside. All these factors can be ascertained using the infrared thermographic inspection. These layers of different temperatures will be clearly outlined on the infrared thermographic camera.
The infrared thermographic inspection offers a quick way of ensuring your attic is in good condition. If you have your own infrared thermographic imaging camera, you can be able to ensure your attic is in proper condition at all times. It shouldn’t be expensive to get an inspector to come and check the condition of your attic if you cannot do it yourself either.
In conclusion, c You have to ensure the attic can lock in the cool or warm temperature in the house when needed. You would have to pay too much money for the heating and cooling systems if you had to rely on these machines alone. Those leaving in areas where the temperatures are quite stable throughout the year have the option to convert their attics into a fun space.