The attic is an often-overlooked space in a home that can be used for storage, a home office, an extra bedroom, or many other purposes. It is a space in a home between the roof and the ceilings. While the use of this space can vary depending on the home and its needs, it is important to understand what they are and how they can be beneficial.

So, do all houses have attics? No, not necessarily. The attic is a defining feature of many houses, but that doesn’t mean it can be found in all of them.

While some houses have large attics, others have very small ones, but most of them vary greatly depending on the structure and design of the house. That is why it’s important to understand what an attic is and how it can be used before taking advantage of this unique space.

Do Most Homes Have Attics?

Do Most Homes Have Attics

Most homes in America have an attic, though some may be too small for even a single person to stand up in. These attics can usually be found at the top of a house and are typically used as storage space, or the home’s furnace and unit will reside there. This makes them slightly unpleasant spaces if one must venture in; however, they aren’t typically used by many people, so the lack of comfort is usually not an issue.

The answer to this question is also dependent upon where you live. Homes in cold northern climates are much more likely to have attics or other storage spaces, while southern locations or tropical locales are less likely to have them. However, since most homes in the United States have at least a small storage area in their attic, it can safely be assumed that the majority of homes in America do have attics.

Is an Attic Necessary?

Is an Attic Necessary?

Understanding why attics are necessary can help you decide whether or not to include one in your own future home design plans. There are many benefits and good reasons for adding an attic to your home. Apart from structural purposes, attics provide functional purposes as well. The floor of the most of attics are typically insulated, which is a great way to keep your home comfortable and more energy efficient.

Most homes built before the 1920s had an attic. It has been a common feature in most homes for the last two centuries, but as Americans began to migrate from rural areas into cities, new homes lost their attics. By the mid-20th century, there were very few true attics left in new construction. As those homes began to age and some began to be renovated and were demolished, attics became even more difficult to find.

Do Modern Homes Have Attics?

Do Modern Homes Have Attics

50 or 60 years ago, attics were common in all but the driest climates in the United States. The 1950s introduced significant innovations to home construction, most notably in the way roofs were built. The new style of roof construction minimized the need for attic space. Many homes today are designed with roofs that are slanted so steeply. This is why many of today’s homes do not have attics.

Times have changed, and most new homes are built without an attic. Homeowners noticed that the basement was really a more practical location to store items because they did not have to worry about a pull-down staircase or carrying items up and down a tiny doorway. And, unlike many attics, a basement provides ample headroom. If the home required additional usable space, the basement might be renovated, heated, and cooled at a lower cost than air conditioning and attic space.

Are Attics a Uniquely American Phenomenon?

Things begin by investigating how houses are built and discussing the different types of construction methods. This is an examination of the increasing popularity of attics as a place of residence in the United States.

Attics are not a uniquely American phenomenon; homes have historically had attic space throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. These attics have served as living quarters for people on occasion across these regions and countries. They have been a part of people’s homes for centuries and can be found everywhere around the world.

These are some of the types of home construction across the globe:

  • Ranch-style home: Ranch-style houses have a single level with sloping roofs and often have an attached garage. This home is a single story with attic space beneath the roof that can also be found in Europe.
  • Two-story houses: These homes can vary in design and architecture and may or may not have an attic. Two-story houses are also popular across Europe and Asia. They have a second floor with an attic. Multi-story homes may or may not contain attic space.
  • Gabled roofs houses: A gable is an architectural term for triangular structures above the openings in the walls of buildings. These houses have a second floor with an attic underneath them and can also be found throughout Africa.
  • Pitched roofs houses: Pitched roof types are ubiquitous throughout the United Kingdom. They have a second floor with an attic that has space within the sloping walls of the home.
  • Mid-rise homes: Mid-rise homes are houses with two or more stories and can be found in Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. They contain attic space on top of the ground floor.

Conclusion

It is important to know that not all houses have attics. This means that if you are looking for a house with an attic in order to store your items and there aren’t many available in the area, then you will need to make sure this detail is on any list of requirements when making a decision about where to live.

You may not have a choice as to whether or not you include an attic in your construction plans, but it is good to be aware of the benefits and limitations of having an attic so that you can choose wisely if given the opportunity to do so.

Some states have a year-long summer. Others are cold for 12 months.

In New Jersey and the Delaware Valley, homeowners experience all four seasons. Under these circumstances, there are specific actions homeowners can take to get the most out of their home.

One of these actions is improving the attic — specifically, the attic’s energy efficiency.

Keeping the attic energy efficient helps keep the home healthy during all four seasons.

Here are 4 of the best ways to improve your attic energy efficiency.

1. Improve Your Attic’s Access Point

The attic access point — you probably see it every day without thinking twice about it.

Your scuttle hole and/or attic door could be wasting your home’s energy.

If the attic access point is not optimized for energy efficiency, air will be leaking between your living area and your attic. Your conditioned air can escape through the attic access point, wasting energy and money on conditioning the lower levels of your home. It doesn’t matter what season it is either — whether you are trying to keep your home toasty in the winter of cool in the summer, your attic access point can contribute to energy loss.

The solution?

We recommend two things:

  1. Weatherstripping
  2. Attic access cover

Attic accesses often have gaps between the door and the ceiling/attic floor. When these gaps are present, weatherstripping is a simple do-it-yourself solution.

For homeowners looking to get the most out of their time and effort, installing an attic access cover could be the perfect remedy.

Attic access covers are a simple installation made for attic scuttle holes and latches. They insulate the attic access and prevent the air from escaping in the same way that weatherstripping does. Other benefits of attic access insulation covers include:

  • Prevents bugs from entering the living area
  • Saves money on monthly energy bills
  • The material is durable and built to last

Weatherstripping and attic access covers are both excellent options. However, for the strongest means of insulation and energy saving, attic access covers provide the best results.

2. Improve Your Attic’s Sealing

After you tackle your attic access, the next step to improving attic energy efficiency is to improve the attic itself.

The first part of that is sealing.

The main goal of improving sealing is to prevent air leakage from the attic.

As mentioned in part 1, air can leak out of gaps and cracks in the attic access. However, the concept of air leakage can be a problem elsewhere.

Polyurethane foam seals gaps in wooden frame construction conserving energy.

Air can leak in gaps in windows, walls, and the floor especially. Take a look around and examine if you have gaps around the following:

  • Wire holes
  • Can lights
  • Ducts or vents
  • Cracks in the floorboards
  • Spaces where walls/floors/ceilings meet

If you find spaces near these elements, materials such as sealant, caulk, and/or weatherstrips can often be good solutions. All three will help limit the amount of air leakage in the attic.

For those with duct-work in their attic, air sealing can be critical.

When your air is leaking from ducts, all of the air that would be funneled directly into your living room may not be leaking up from your attic access, but directly from the ducts themselves. Thanks to something know as the “stack effect” (rising heat in the house), air leakages from ducts happen constantly, even when your air is not running. The joints that hold the ducts together leak air, the space in between the ducts and walls leak air, and you end up paying for it (literally — in utility bills).

When it comes to sealing duct-work, a materials such as spray foam, duct mastic, or duct tape can be a homeowners best friend.

Homeowners should also consider the importance of insulating the ducts as well. This concept should actually be applied to the entirety of the attic.

3. Improve Your Attic Insulation

Thanks to infrared technology, we are able to further see where homes need insulation.

When our technicians go into homes, the attic is one of the usual suspects for under-insulation.

In the Delaware Valley, where recommended R-Value (resistance to heat) ranges from R38 to R60, having the right amount of insulation is a necessity if you want good whole-home health. R-Values vary by material, but to get a better sense of what kind of R-Values you may already have, check out this chart. For the most accurate measurements, it’s always best to have a healthy home professional inspect your attic and determine what R-Value will work best for your home.

So how do you insulate your attic?

First, consider R-Value.

Next, identify what kind of insulation and what amount of insulation you will need for optimal insulation.

Some of the most popular attic insulation materials include:

  • Fiberglass (comes as batt)
  • Cellulose (comes blown)
  • Mineral wool (comes batt or blown)

Your walls, joists, and attic floors may all need better insulation. You may be able to judge this with the naked eye, but we recommend having an expert take a look. Experienced technicians will be able to give you more insight into R-Values, identify every spot that needs insulation, and offer actionable advice on the best way to handle any under-insulation.

Bonus Tip: Use Multi-Layer Reflective Insulation.

Multi-Layer Reflective Insulation (MLI) is the hidden gem of insulation materials.

MLI reflects radiant heat from the sun that permeates through the roof to keep R-Value consistent, and the temperature in the living area contained.

While most MLI installations take place in the attic, we can apply our reflective insulation products anywhere in your home to better insulate your home. Attics, crawl spaces, garage doors, below your floors—we even have wraps for old hot water heaters. MLI can help you improve your home’s energy efficiency levels and enjoy increased savings and comfort.

4. Improve Your Attic Ventilation

Ventilation, often thought of as “airflow”, tends to be overlooked.

Unlike other parts of the country like the southern and western states where it is hot year-round and attics can reach deathly high temperatures, the northeast only experiences high-heat for about two months. Likewise, the importance of airflow in the attic can easily escape the minds of homeowners.

Plus, most people aren’t really hanging out in their attic. So why does your attic need ventilation?

The truth is, ventilation is needed during every month of the year.

If you don’t have a healthy stream of air in your attic in the summer, you could be looking at moisture damage and mold.

And if you don’t have that healthy airflow in the winter, you could be looking at different yet similar issues. The potential for mold growth will be there, and excess moisture could cause warped joists, unsafe ice damming on the roof, and rotting wood.

The solution?

We recommend using a solar attic fan in New Jersey.

Solar attic fans — as the name implies — run solely on the power of the sun. That means less electricity is needed and more energy efficiency is earned.

They regulate your attic by expelling hot air and circulating fresh outside air to maintain healthy, consistent air quality.

To learn more about the benefits of installing a solar attic fan, click here.

Take Action — Improve Your Attic

If you want to improve your attic, we recommend seeking out the advice of an expert. Our technicians offer free attic inspections and can give you personalized advice based on the condition of your house and the climates that your house will be going through. To get an expert’s perspective, contact us today for a free inspection.

Most people tend to think of their homes as their happy place, like a warm embrace when entering your home after being outside in the cold. Even the walk from the car to the front door makes you long for the warmth of your home and the comfort that lies within.

Thanks to COVID, things have changed a bit, and in the face of a post-COVID world, things will continue to be different. Many of us who work from home due to COVID will continue to do so in some form. With the horrors of the pandemic came a new way of working and living.

I frequently get calls from customers who are setting up shop at home, and they aren’t physically comfortable in that space. Areas of the home that were once designated for cars, guest bedrooms, walk-in attic storage, or basement storage are now little carved out nooks for many remote workers to find a quiet place to get their work done. With so many of us re-locating within our abode and spending a large quantity of time there, we realize that these areas are suffering in the “warm and cozy” department. If you are feeling that way now, just wait until summer — if that area is not insulated or under-insulated, you will be roasting.

There is so much we can do for you at Attics and More, and we are only a phone call away. One complimentary, no-pressure visit from our friendly Attic Inspector, and you’re this close to finding comfort again. We can add blown-in insulation to finished walls, ceilings, and floors; we can install batted and unbatted insulation on open walls’ we can place blown-in insulation in the attic. Gaps in the attic? We air seal them.

Hot air and cold air are in a constant contest to see who can reach the other following the shortest path. We will send out a friendly Attic Inspector with his infrared camera at the ready and take pictures to show you where the air is escaping. ( We will email the images to you as well.) We wrap ductwork, create an insulating barrier for bedrooms that live above your garage and are colder than the other rooms on a second floor. We hunt down all the little places where air escapes and burdens your furnace in winter and air conditioning in summer by making them work overtime. I always explain it this way: “It’s simply science.” And science doesn’t lie.

home-energy-loss

Give our super-friendly Customer Experience Team a call today to get the ball rolling and make your new workspace worthy of its own “Welcome” mat.

 

 

The team at Attics and More doesn’t need a crystal ball to know it’s cold inside too. One of the benefits of having so much customer contact is the ability to learn in real-time what’s happening in our prospective clients’ homes. The main complaints are cold spots in the house, especially on the second floor of the home, and the room that sits above an attached garage.

November days in the 70⁰s are gone. The discomfort of the cold in your home is not inviting, and your heater is working overtime to keep up with the cold temperature inside your house. Those with ice-cold bedrooms are huddling under ten comforters each, and there is relentless complaining  (especially after taking a shower) that you cannot get and stay warm.

The good news is that there is a fix — one that is just as good at stopping cold spots in the winter as it is nixing hot spots in the summer.

I had a woman from Philadelphia call recently, and she told me that she knew nothing about attics. She had purchased and now shares a home with her 91-year-old father. She complained about the cold to her father, and he told her that the culprit was their attic. She was surprised to hear it, but she gave me a call. Her father was right. Other issues arise when you have a room above an attached garage. The loudest complaints come from families where the master bedroom sits above the garage, and it is an icebox—no room for romance in a freezer.

If you speak to any HVAC professional or roofer, they will tell you the same thing. The problem lies within the attic and, in the case of the room above the garage, it lies in the garage’s insulation or lack thereof. We appreciate that these specialists reinforce our educated message to our customers.

The solution is simple and scientific. I don’t “math” well, but science makes sense. We try to educate our consumers so they are better positioned to know what they are getting for their investment and why. I tell our customers who are getting multiple bids on a project what to ask the other companies. We strive to not only do a good job but the best job. Once you are our customer, you will remain our customer forever, and we are here to assist you should any questions arise in the future after we do a project in your home.

Seal, Insulate, and Ventilate Your Attic

Air Sealing Your Attic

Now, onto the education part. We preach “seal, insulate, and ventilate.” The cold and warm air is always trying to find each other. This is where the sealing comes in. In the winter, the warm air is finding its way outside while the cold air wants to come inside. The only way to stop this is to air seal the attic.

Our air sealing service, which will seal holes and leaks in your attic, can significantly cut down on air leakage and can have an immediate impact on your energy bills. An added benefit is that sealing cracks and openings reduces drafts and cold spots, improving comfort.

Insulation In Your Attic

The next component is to insulate. Insulation is measured in something called an R-Value, and in the tri-state area of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, we want to insulate our attic to a level of R-38 or 15 inches. We do things a bit differently from the way other insulation companies do. We provide a guaranteed bag count of insulation, as well as an R-Value guarantee.  The blown-in fiberglass insulation that we install is done by bag count, not just height, to reach the proper R-Value of R-38 or 15 inches. Some companies set their blowers to blow the material in a fluffier consistency to reach that level using fewer bags. With Attics and More, you will receive the full bag count, even if that increases your insulation height and value to level R-44. You will also receive the lifetime R-Value Guarantee, which states that if at any time the blown-in insulation in your home falls under the purchased R-Value, the Attics and More installation team will make an appointment to refill the attic to the purchased R-Value, at no charge. This certificate is transferable to any owner of the home listed at the address below, as long as the house is standing and has not been condemned by any city or municipality. If the level falls below the promised regional R-38, we will top it off at no cost to you.

Ventilate Your Attic

Ventilation in the attic is almost always thought of as a summertime concern. Our solar attic fans by Solaro Aire are sourced and manufactured in the USA, remove heat during the hot summer months, and remove moisture that can cause mold and mildew in the winter. It is this one, two, three punch that maximizes home comfort and energy savings.

The concept of the building envelope as it applies to the entire home itself is crucial. It is the separation of the interior and exterior of a building.  It helps facilitate climate control and protect the indoor environment. In older homes, the cost of energy when they were built was inexpensive, so the focus was not there for proper insulation, ventilation, and sealing. Even in newer homes, adequate insulation and ventilation are not appropriately done or are overlooked. It is in these independent components where you can recoup energy savings by having them inspected by a professional and then addressed accordingly.

Rooms Over an Attached Garage

Next, let us consider the situation with rooms that sit over an attached garage. These rooms tend to be ice cold in winter and too hot in summer. We address this problem by placing multi-layer insulation (eShield, our proprietary brand of radiant insulation) in the garage ceiling with the shiny surface facing the ground. In effect, this becomes the floor of the room above the garage. The radiant heat that is pulled from the MLI keeps the room toasty in winter and radiates the warmth away from the room in summer. The goal is to create an envelope (an envelope within the building envelope as outlined above) of hot or cool air depending upon the season, and it works. There is sometimes ductwork inside the garage that needs to be covered with insulation to keep the cold air or warm air where we want it to stay – inside the ductwork and at the right time of year.

Sound like a solid plan? That’s because it is. The Healthy Attic Plan, from A to Z, consists of eco-friendly products to seal, insulate, and ventilate your attic and garage where applicable, providing the most comfort and energy efficiency for your home. And don’t forget about those tax credits. The Federal Solar Tax Credit for our Solaro Aire solar fans is 30% for the year ending 2020, then dropping to 22% for 2021. New Jersey also has a capital improvement credit for insulation as well, where you can claim up to $500 on your taxes.

Your home is your most significant investment, and where you spend most of your downtime. Let Attics and More show it a little TLC, so wearing three cardigans in winter and dropping ice cubes down the back of your shirt to cool off in summer isn’t the norm anymore.

 

Some people have scenes of wrapping themselves up in warm blankets, nice and cozy, sitting on the sofa, and watching a good movie with a cup of hot chocolate in hand in winter. The mini-marshmallows are a nice plus. Other people are just the opposite, counting down the days until spring arrives. Either way, there is another consideration for you to be thinking about, and that is what is going on above your head in your attic. It is getting cold outside, and the furry critters that want to get warm are looking for a place to call home. Your home.

mice-feces-and-urine

Mouse Feces and Urine

It isn’t just the damage rodents can do with their teeth to your ductwork, electrical wiring, and anything else stored in your attic, but the real health concerns relative to the feces and urine that they are depositing there, not to mention the legion of babies being produced. Attics and More does not claim to be in the pest management business, but we will inspect your attic for signs of these issues so you can have it managed by a proper pest control company. When the pest control company has completed their portion of the work by catching anything that is still alive in your attic and blocking ways for them to return to your warm and inviting home, Attics and More will return and remove the gross and messy insulation that still holds health hazards, sanitize your attic, and place fresh insulation down to make your attic, and by extension the people who reside there, healthy again.

Mice Feces and Chewed Wires

Mice Feces and Chewed Wires

 

mice-chewed-water-piping

Water Piping Chewed by Mice

A standout of our removal process is that we will professionally remove your existing insulation and sanitize the attic. Most insulation companies will skip this step and place new insulation over existing disintegrated and possibly toxic insulation to avoid this mess. Our method is a clean one wherein the equipment is left outside as we remove the debris from inside your home. We take every precaution to ensure cleanliness and the safety of you and our family.

After the sanitization process is complete, we blow in our fiberglass insulation, which is 100 percent recycled and is the only insulation in the world guaranteed to remain at its original R-value level for as long as you own your home. If at any point – for as long as you own your house – your insulation fails to live up to our high standards of energy efficiency, our insulation team will refill your attic to the appropriate level for free. This fresh Johns Manville fiberglass will be at a depth of 15 inches or R-38, which is appropriate for our region. When you invest in this quality product, you can rest assured that you are purchasing insulation that will help increase your home’s energy efficiency, cut down on monthly electric bills, and reduce your carbon footprint.

This approach to an attic infestation is a real win-win for the homeowner having peace of mind that the attic is free from pests and harmful materials in the attic, and can look forward to comfort and energy savings with the installation of our level R-38 blown-in insulation. Attics and More offers complimentary home inspections, so why not let us take a peek in the attic and see what is really going on up there?