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Attic Insulation Redo

I purchased my first home about 6 months ago. Due to my own ignorance, and what I view as a poor job by my home inspector, I finally figured out that my attic insulation is very poor and insufficient.

I live in Connecticut, and the current attic insulation is something called Balsam Wool. The home was built in the 1950's and the insulation is probably that old. Some parts it is just torn up or isnt there. Most other areas its probably less than 2 inches thick.

It looks to have backing on both sides. I believe, correct me if im wrong, the backing should face down.

I am leaning toward redoing it all completely; ripping it all out and starting fresh.

Obviously, ive never done this before but it doesnt seem too big a job.

1. Id like some recommendations on the most efficient, yet affordable options I should use

2. What to do with wiring. There are some recessed lighting in the attic floor. I believe they are IC compliant. Much of the electrical wiring runs on top or beside the existing insulation and is stapled down. Should I just unstaple it all and keep it lose so I can lay down the insulation underneath it?

3. Once its all done, I am sure the insulation will sit above the house framing. I know you dont want to compact the insulation so how exactly do you make it so you can get any possible future work done up there? What I mean is, how do you make it so you can still move around if the beams are covered or you cant see the beams due to the high insulation?

Re: Attic Insulation Redo


I feel your frutration. I too bought my first house about 9 months ago and decided to place insulation in my own attic because there was none (nothing else is really insulated either)

First things first. You will need to confirm with your local building code about the facing on the insulation. Some codes mandate which orientation it should be placed. Also, you will need to check the backing, because it may not be what you think. Codes will speak of the vapor barrier, which is typically included in the kraft backing that a majority of insulation manufacturers provide. Typically, in most colder climate areas, the vapor barrier is faced down (towards the heated/cooled space in your home). Double check that the black backing I saw in your pictures was not just a way to keep the insulation clean.

With regards to your wiring, as long as it is NM (Romex style wiring) it can be insulated over. It is properly sheathed to prevent fires as long as the correct wire size was used for the amperage running through the circuit. Those recessed fixtures look like IC ones, but the easiest way to tell for sure is to check if there is a label on them still telling you that it is (I think there are on the inside where the light bulbs go). If they are IC, just cover them with insulation. I would leave the wires where they are stapled now, because they are supposed to be secured to the framing per building codes.

As far as access to the attic in the future, you have a couple of options. I ran access boards down the gable lines in my house and placed insulation under them (R-13 in my house) and ran the proper thickness (R-38) everywhere else. I figured that heat loss would be minimal in those areas, but knew I would need future access. Your other option would be to create a dummy floor that is above the new height of the insulation, which will cost a great deal of money and time to complete. If you are worried about losing any storage space, just create some shelves like I did by running some framing down from the rafters above and stopping them above the insulation.

Lastly, make sure when you are putting the new insulation in, you don't block the airflow from your soffit vents, otherwise you will end up having worse problems.

Good luck,


Timothy Miller
Re: Attic Insulation Redo

Howdy consider getting a bid or three to have blown in cellulose or fiberglass added to the attic . I prefer cellulose as it stops air movement, has fire and insect retardant- fiberglass does not.As the other response the wiring if knob and tub must be addressed prior to insulation. The contractors whom blow in insulation are usually very inexpensive. Bring bring the attic up to at least r48. The vapor barrier would be if there was no insulation better is no ceiling. Most painted ceiling acts as a vapor retarder. There are now paints formulated to be vapor retarders too for the ceiling. Caulking around ceiling light fixtures to seal air infiltration does a great vapor retarding too.Be sure you create an adequate insulation of the attic access plate- these are usually grossly under insulated. Hurry before the tax rebate expires end of december...

Re: Attic Insulation Redo

yeah, definitely need some insulation up there. Look on the bright side though. You don't have that much to take out! :p

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