Insulating your loft

It might seem an odd thing to be thinking about during the summer months, but winter is fast approaching and now is the perfect time to think about insulation. Your loft is the area of the house where most heat is lost – heat rises after all. If you have little or no insulation you could be wasting a great deal of your winter fuel on heating the birds on the roof.

Insulating your loft is a simple DIY job and most people can easily complete this job in a weekend. It can seem like a large investment, but it is worth considering applying for one of the government grants available to help with the cost.

www.government-grants.co.uk/loft-insulation-grants.shtml This website will help with the application process and let you know if you qualify.

Mineral fibre / fibreglass matting

Available in 400mm wide rolls and up to 200mm thick. This thickness is considered to be the best for UK homes. It can be purchased in less thick rolls to allow for overlaying of old insulation

Loose-fill materials

Known as blown wool insulation, they are, as the name suggests, blown into the loft to a thickness of 200mm. It may be necessary to increase the depth of the ceiling joists to accommodate the depth. This is usually best carried out by a professional.

DIY loose-fill insulation

You can also buy loose fill material in bags for the DIYer. They are simply poured into place. This is easier for areas where awkward corners might make fibreglass matting hard to lay.

Things to consider when insulating your loft

  • Always use a board across the joists to spread your weight The weight of an average man can easily cause the ceiling below to give way.
  • Ensure you have adequate light in the loft so you can see all the areas which require attention.
  • Increase the height of the joist where required to allow the correct depth of insulation.
  • Make sure there is enough ventilation in the roof to avoid condensation. You should be able to see daylight at the eaves. Avoid placing the insulation right up to the eaves as this will fill the ventilation holes and will cause moisture build up.
  • Do not cover electric wiring with insulation – they should be able to dissipate heat or could become a fire risk.

How to lay insulation

  • The roll should be the same width as the joists, making laying very easy. Simply measure the length and cut to size.
  • Make sure the area is clear of debris, dust and objects.
  • Always wear a mask and gloves as fibreglass insulation can be irritating to the skin.
  • Work the insulation under cables and pipes and use loose-fill insulation in awkward spots.
  • Don't forget to cover the loft hatch door as well. Cover it in plastic first so you don't have to touch it when opening the loft hatch.
  • Loose-fill insulation material is simply poured or blown into the space between the joists. It should stay in place, but it may be necessary to check depth from time to time, if there has been a draught in the loft.

It really is not complicated to lay insulation and should be a top priority for this winter. It will help with those winter bills and hopefully pay for itself with a few years.

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