Using Attic Insulation for Sound Control
“How do you know if the attic needs soundproofing insulation?” You ask Robby.
“Previously, insulation of the attic was done for thermal reasons, to keep the house more cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. Just as important is the acoustical benefits of insulation. If your present house is drafty and suffers wide temperature changes, adding insulation is a practical solution. Up to 30% of the heat or cooling can be lost through the attic in a poorly insulated attic.
Half can be lost through conduction, the other half through air leakage around fixtures, plumbing, electrical boxes and so on. This can cost you several hundreds of dollars a year, depending on where you live. Lately, lots more emphasis has been placed on the acoustical properties of sealing the attic”. Robby answers.
“How much insulation is enough and what about the cost?”
“Well, R-34 is a reasonable level, but R-40 is the standard for new homes in cold climes. New materials on the market improve the acoustics without sacrificing thermal qualities. But, just think, you can reduce the 50% losses yourself, right now, by properly caulking up around cracks and holes! This amounts to real dollar savings and raises the comfort level in the home. During hot days, high amounts of heat is trapped in the attic, migrating into the living areas. This high heat can also damage the wood in your house, causing premature replacement of structural members”. Sealing also reduces noise migration either into or out of the house, too.
“The true direct cost has to be determined and payback figured by the cost of fuel and/or electricity in your area versus the reduction in heat loss. Usually these things pay for themselves in a short period of time”.
“Can I do it myself?”
“Sure. This is not a difficult job and certainly within the range of work any handy person. But it’s not a pleasant job. It’s messy and can be cramping. Where the insulation can be blown in, little can be saved by doing it yourself. Using a contractor who specializes in this is the best choice. Be sure to get several written quotes. Find out how much the material will cost you to buy and subtract that from the lowest quote, then you can see what you’ll save in labor by doing it yourself”.
“Don’t forget the soundproofing value of a well insulated house. Aircraft noise will be less, and neighborhood noise will be less noticeable. There’s no price you can put on the reduction of stress! This adds real value to your home”.
One reputable name for blow-in material is Nu-Wool, they also have a product called “Wall-Seal” which is a spray-on insulation with acoustical properties. This is, however, a cellulose based material.
“What kind of insulation is best?”
“People tell us that the best results for BOTH thermal and acoustic benefit is cotton fiber insulation”.