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How to Measure Your Attic's Insulation

Whether you just purchased a new house or have been in your place for a while, it's a good idea to check whether or not your attic is insulated properly. Sufficient attic insulation is essential to creating a home environment that is both comfortable and energy efficient. The last thing you want is your hard earned paycheck going out the window with all your conditioned air.

Thankfully, measuring your attic insulation is a very easy task. Just follow these steps to ensure your attic is sufficiently insulated. All you need is a ruler and a pen and paper.

Step 1: Identify the Type of Insulation in Your Attic

Before proceeding with measuring the insulation, take a quick look at the different types of insulation you might encounter:

  • Cellulose Insulation

  • Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper that has been treated with a flame retardant. It is loose and looks fluffy.

  • Loose-blown insulation will settle over time and that the initial depth, when first installed, will be higher by 10% or so than necessary.

  • The R-value for cellulose insulation is 3.8 per inch.

  • Fiberglass Insulation

  • Fiberglass insulation is made from fiberglass and is usually installed by cutting large strips off of a larger roll and securing the material in between wood studs with a staple gun.

  • Cellulose insulation has a lower R-value than cellulose insulation. As a result, you'll need a greater depth of material to achieve your desired R-value.

  • The baseline R-value for fiberglass insulation is 3.2 per inch.

  • Spray Foam Insulation

  • Spray foam insulation is made from a two-part polyurethane foam. It is typically white and looks like frosting that has hardened on the wall.

  • Spray foam insulation typically has a much better R-value than cellulose and fiberglass alternatives, ranging from R-6.5 to R-7 or so.

You'll only be able to measure cellulose or fiberglass insulation by hand. If you find spray foam in your attic and are curious about the effectiveness of the installation, give us a call! We can tell you exactly what you're working with.

Step 2: Take your ruler and push it through the insulation till it hits bottom

This is super simple. Take your ruler and push it down through the insulation (the type doesn't matter), till it hits the bottom. Take note of how far down the ruler goes. Do this at several different spots in the attic. Your goal is to determine whether or not the insulation is evenly distributed and identify the level of insulation.

Step 3: Multiply the depth of your attic insulation by its corresponding R-value

If your attic is filled with cellulose insulation, multiply the measured depth by 3.8. If it is insulated with fiberglass, multiply the measured depth by 3.2.


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