To Vent or Not to Vent: Tips for insulating vented attics

Areas to insulate include:

  • exterior walls (e.g. dormer walls, portions of walls above ceilings of adjacent sections of split-level homes, unheated garages, and storage rooms);
  • ceilings with cold spaces above, including dormer ceilings;
  • knee walls of attic spaces finished as living quarters; and
  • sloped walls and ceilings of attic spaces finished as living quarters.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Technology Fact Sheet on Ceilings and Attics suggests when planning and managing vented ceiling insulation projects to ensure the following:

  • ceiling is properly sealed;
  • correct insulation levels are selected;
  • insulation is properly installed; and
  • attic ventilation is maintained.

One should use more than a single layer of batt insulation on attic floors with conventional joists and rafters. The first layer is installed between the joists and should be the same height as the joists. The second layer is applied crosswise to the joists.

In knee wall design, insulation should be kept from touching recessed light fixtures (unless they are rated for insulation contact).

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