Oddly enough, when homeowners think of insulation, they often only think of the importance of it in the winter. Insulation is just as important for your comfort in the summer months because it slows the transfer of summer heat entering the home and reduces demand on your air-conditioning system.
Attics can get really hot during the summer months often reaching temperatures as much as 150°F. On hot days, top floor ceilings act like heat exchangers. With insufficient insulation (and absence of proper ventilation) your attic will get nice and toasty. That heat will, in turn, radiate into your home, countering the cooling efforts of your air conditioning system costing you money.
Hugh Cairns wood chip insulation tip - “Homeowners with wood chip insulation will greatly benefit from its removal and replacement. Replacing your wood chip insulation will make your home feel noticeably more comfortable and energy efficient”.
Considering that attic insulation is relatively inexpensive, there’s little money to lose and lots to be gained from insulating your attic. You will benefit greatly with increased comfort, particularly in the summer months.
If you have wood chip insulation in your attic, it would have been acceptable practice when it was installed. Wood chip insulation is generally considered safe, although it offers very little R-Value for you.
R-Value of wood chip insulation
Back in the day before cellulose and glass fibre insulation products were available, sawdust and wood shavings were commonly used to insulate homes. Before that, most builders and home owners didn’t insulate attics or walls at all, making homes with sawdust insulation better than average.
If you compare the R-Value of sawdust and wood chips to our modern insulation products, the insulation value is poor. Often, the depth of the wood shaving insulation was insufficient – to today’s standards, and as it settled, it has little or no thermal benefits. If you are heating a home with wood chips in the attic, then you are wasting heat and money.
Wood chip or sawdust insulation – R-1
Blown in fiberglass insulation – R-3
Covering wood chip insulation
Insulation contractors may give the homeowner the choice of covering wood chip insulation with new, efficient insulation products. My experience is that the home performs better once existing insulation is removed. Most people won’t remove wood chip insulation purely because of cost. There are a lot of reasons to move towards its removal than to keep it. Therefore, removing it is your best move.
Don’t settle for a contractor that says that it’s ok to leave it. Don’t cut corners. If your contractor doesn’t have the equipment, then look for one that does. In any event, you shouldn’t try to escape removing it. It may cost a few more bucks, but you’ll be satisfied with the results.