LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to chat with Sarah in Texas who’s got an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
SARAH: I bought a home about a year ago and it’s a 1970s home. And we have pretty good insulation in the house already but we are wanting to put in a new layer. There were a bunch of critters that used to live up in the attic.
TOM: Oh, no.
SARAH: There are carcasses and stuff. (chuckles) And I didn’t know whether it was OK just to kind of layer over it and blow in new insulation. Would we still get the same benefits or is it better to start from scratch?
TOM: Well, in this situation, where you’ve got some insulation that was damaged or certainly infested by small animals, I would not recommend putting a second layer down. I would take the opportunity to pull out what you have.
That said, if the insulation is in good condition up there – it’s still fluffy, it’s still doing its job – there’s no reason you can’t put a second layer. But if it’s been infested, I wouldn’t want you to trap all that under. The animals may have stirred it up and may have compressed it by walking on it and insulation is not going to work unless it’s fluffy and full of air.
Now, in terms of the amount of insulation, Owens Corning recommends that you have 19 inches of batt insulation or 22 inches of blown-in insulation. They have a good website, called InsulateandSave.com, that you can go to and get tips on how to actually do the installation of the insulation yourself. It’s not a difficult project. It’s very inexpensive and, in fact, you may find that you qualify for federal energy tax credits by installing insulation and other energy-saving improvements to your house.
SARAH: Absolutely. Cool. That’s what I thought. So I just wanted to take the best route to ensure the longevity of the new layer that we put in.
TOM: Yeah, I think in this situation, since you had those critters up there, I would get rid of the old stuff and start new. You’ll get a really well-insulated house; it’s going to make you more comfortable, more energy-efficient and it’s going to save you some money. That website, again, is InsulateandSave.com. They’ve got a zip code tool there that will help you find a retailer in your area and also a way of calculating how much you can save on your monthly energy bill.
SARAH: One question, though. Would you recommend having professionals come in to remove the old insulation?
TOM: Not necessarily.
SARAH: Because being up there, it’s a pretty – there are some pretty tight corners and, you know.
TOM: Well, not necessarily in the sense that you can do it yourself; it’s not hard to do. But if you find it difficult to work around the attic space because it is difficult to access, then certainly it’s something you could hire a pro to. But if you do work in the attic, just remember the age-old carpenter adage. Know what that is? Walk on wood.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah.
TOM: Walk on wood. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Or end up in ceiling of bedroom below.
TOM: That’s right. And watch out for the nails in the roof. Sounds like you’ve got all the information you need to do this job yourself. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.