Since heat rises, your home's attic is prime real estate for heat loss and cold air leaks. That's why it's important your attic be appropriately insulated. Whether you've just purchased the house or you've neglected to maintain the insulation in the attic, a weekend project with an insulation contractor to protect your attic may be beneficial. If you're new to insulation, you may not be familiar with the best practices of insulating to ensure you get the most from the job. Here's a look at what you should know about the process.

Start By Sealing Things Up

You aren't going to get the most benefit from your attic's insulation if you don't deal with all of the gaps that cause air leaks first. In fact, sealing your attic against leaks is the best place to start when it comes to insulating things.

Sometimes, detecting those air leaks is best done by an insulation contractor. They have a machine that's called a blower door. It simulates a sustained surrounding wind so vulnerable areas are easy to spot. There are a few common trouble spots to check.

  • The attic hatch or door – Cover the attic-side of the door or hatch with a layer of insulation, then place weather stripping along the edges of the door and the frame.
  • Pull-Down Attic Stairs – Apply weather stripping to the edges of the pull-down stairs. This will help to create a seal around the stairs when they're folded flush to the ceiling. Then, add an insulated cover over the pull-down door. Make sure the cover is either hinged or easily removed so you can gain access to the attic when you need it.
  • Exhaust Fans – Place air ducts on the fan to exhaust the fans outside. Run the duct work to the outside, and seal it well around the point where the ductwork meets the fan. Make sure the edges of the fan are sealed well where those edges come in contact with the drywall. This prevents air from seeping past the fan into your attic.
  • Recessed Lighting – You'll want to have an insulation specialist seal your recessed lighting. There are some strict regulations to consider when it comes to sealing lights, because you don't want to risk starting a fire. All of your insulation material should stay at least a few inches away from any recessed lighting because of the fire hazard.
  • Interior Wall Joints – Where the interior walls meet the attic floor, you'll also want to make sure there's a good seal. Apply a long-life caulking material around all of those seams to keep everything secure.
  • Plumbing Vent Stacks – The best option for sealing around your plumbing vent stacks is expanding foam. Spray the expanding foam in the gap where the vent stacks exit the attic so that no air can pass beyond the vent.

Ensure Ventilation

Before you insulate the attic, you need to make sure you've got sufficient ventilation. Otherwise, the air will be stale and it may even harbor moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew. Here are a few things to consider when you're checking for ventilation.

Install a few ventilation chutes along the walls where the attic meets the edge of the house. Then, make sure your soffit vents are clear. If your roof comes to a peak over the attic, you might even want to install ridge vents along the peak of the roof.

Once all of these preparation steps are completed, it's time to install the attic insulation. You'll probably want to have this part done by a licensed contractor, not only to ensure it's installed properly, but also because fiberglass insulation (if that's what you choose) can be difficult to work with and cause itching if you accidentally come in contact with it on bare skin. Talk with an insulation specialist today to find the best insulation choice for your home's attic or visit sites like for more information and to find contractors near you.