Do you install the cheapest, unbalanced tires, on your exotic import?
On the first date with your true love, did you eat at the most unclean place in town?
Do you regularly eat the cheapest, most convenient food and expect to be at the top of your health?
Generally speaking, we don’t make important purchases nor make important decisions that contradict what we know we want as the outcome.
But plenty of homeowners are making a fair or good decision, when it comes to attic insulation, instead of the best or better decision, simply because they don’t know any better!
Thousands of Examples
For 20+ years I’ve been listening to Atlanta homeowners complain of comfort issues in their homes. And I’ve climbed around in thousands of attics. After a while, you begin to notice a pattern; you begin to notice a few things that most every one of these uncomfortable homes have in common.
Solution vs Product
Because Bird Family Insulation is a solution-driven company, I’m always listening for the motive behind the call. If I’m not crystal clear with the true problem, how can I help my client with the solution? Said another way, I’m always wanting to know what must happen for me to get a high-five from my homeowner after the job is completed.
For many companies, they sell a commodity. They sell insulation by the square foot. There is a need for these companies, but uncomfortable homeowners don’t always know they have other issues complicating their need for improved insulation.
We get lots of calls from new homeowners. “Bob, the inspection report said I need more attic insulation.” With these types of homeowners, their motive is simply doing what they’ve been told to do. So, I agree with the report, and give them what they want.
The “problem house”… they are all similar: Ducts in the attic.
After many thousands and thousands of uncomfortable, desperate homeowners, we’ve learned that the houses that are the most uncomfortable are the houses with the HVAC system or air ducts located in the attic.
We aren’t satisfied with simply adding a few inches of attic insulation, when we see air ducts doing a terrible job of delivering the vital comfort-giving airflow.
(Let me say here: I’m talking about traditional, vented attics. This does not apply to attics that have been sealed and encapsulated with spray foam insulation.)
Going the extra mile
To deliver a solution to these homeowners, we had to learn how to fix the air ducts that are located in the attic. I also knew repairing air ducts would give us a competitive advantage in the attic insulation market. And it has! Without a doubt, as homeowners call around getting estimates, they get a good idea for who cares about comfort, and who’s just trying to make a sale.
The BIG 3 Problems with Air Ducts in the Attic
Here are the three biggest problems I continue to find with air ducts that are positioned in the attic.
Problem 1: It’s too hot in your attic for air ducts
The installers suspend the ducts in the air, strapped to the underside of the roof. Where is the hottest, most dangerous location in your house? Directly under the roof, inside your attic! These Atlanta area attics reach daily temperatures of 140 degrees during the summer months. And in this attic, we expect to get cold air from a 40’ pipe that has 1” to 2” of fiberglass insulation squeezed around it! Anyone who’s drank from the hose in the yard knows what I’m talking about.
Problem 2: Flex ducts get ripped, squeezed, twisted and crushed
Flexible air-duct has allowed HVAC companies to dramatically lower installation costs, when compared with fabricating sheet metal systems. However, flexible ducts can be twisted, deformed, pinched, flattened, squeezed and crushed… you get the picture. I’ve been taught that for every 90 degree turn in a flex duct, it has the same debilitating effect on airflow as adding 10 feet to the length of the duct. The goal is to get that precious airflow from the air handler to the living space as quickly as possible! The longer the conditioned air moves through the air duct, the greater the loss of efficiency. If you’re trying to cool the house in July, your attic is 140 degrees. And every twist, turn, and pinch in your air ducts is robbing you of that cold airflow reaching your bedroom.
Problem 3: Your current air ducts are leaking up to 30% of the airflow
This last point is unbelievably important. Are you sitting down? It’s so bad, it’s hard to believe. Here goes: Your air ducts are leaking huge amounts of air flow. I’m talking huge amounts. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the average American home is losing up to 30% of the air moving through the duct system! That’s almost 1/3rd of the capacity! And the duct leakage in the Return-air ducts is sucking that inferno-like hot & humid air into your ducts, for your AC to overcome!
Just one of these common problems is reason enough to take corrective action with our air ducts. But when you add all three of these problems together, combine them in the same attic in a duct system, it’s no wonder homeowners are left unsatisfied when they pay for a few inches of additional attic insulation, but still feel uncomfortable!
My Divine Revelation regarding the problem with ducts in our attics
Many years ago, I began asking God to show me what was wrong with these beautiful Atlanta homes that were suffering from uncomfortable upstairs bedrooms. I’ll never forget standing in a huge, spacious attic in Alpharetta, sweat soaking through my shirt, asking God to show me what’s wrong with this house. It was 2003. “Lord, tell me why his baby is waking up soaking wet with sweat during his afternoon naps”. After all, this house was less than 5 years old with 16” of white fluffy fiberglass attic insulation!
Then I saw it. God made it crystal clear to me.
Air ducts that looked like heavy clothes lines?
The flex air ducts were suspended like heavy clothes lines throughout the attic. Some were strapped tightly against the roof deck, absorbing all that extreme heat.
I knew what I had to do!
I returned downstairs to my homeowner and shared my revelation. Here was my remedy; my solution:
“I will cut the straps, and reposition your air ducts to lay on the attic floor. And as I install your cellulose attic insulation, I will BURY your ducts beneath a thick layer of protective insulation! Your son will get colder air from the vent.”
He had two other quotes for “a few inches of additional attic insulation”. I was his third appointment.
He didn’t even hesitate.
My cellulose & air duct remodel price was more than twice as high as the other fiberglass guys, but I got the job. Why? Because he knew my proposal was the solution to his baby not sweating through his afternoon naps.
I was selling value, not a commodity.
(He moved about 10 years later, and called me, “Bob, I’ve moved and I need you to come fix this house!”)
Using spray foam insulation on the air ducts
We’ve greatly improved our process with air ducts as we continue to study airflow and duct systems.
Using closed-cell, low-pressure spray foam insulation, we’re spraying the air ducts and the plenums. In other words, we’re spraying everything responsible for moving airflow from your air handler to the vent in your room. If Beau or Chris can reach it, they spray it.
And spraying these duct systems with foam insulation solves all three of the most common problems I listed.
Spraying the air ducts with foam insulation solves all the problems with your ducts:
Solution 1: Foam insulation more than doubles the insulation on your ducts
We more than double the insulation value of your air ducts. You win with colder AC airflow, and warmer heat airflow!
Solution 2: Spray foam permanently protects your ducts from squeezing, tearing, twisting, while dramatically improving efficiency in airflow
As we spray each duct, as needed, we reposition the flex duct for improved airflow and efficiency. Often we’ll cut away excess length to shorten a duct – before spraying it with our foam insulation. We untwist the twists. We make gentler turns. We replace the crushed section. We seal the tear. As we hold it in the improved position and spray it, the foam dries in seconds, permanently holding the air duct in the new, improved location. Think of a cast on your broken arm or leg. In many cases, you win with stronger airflow from your vents!
Solution 3: Low pressure foam completely, permanently seals your ducts from any duct leakage
Low pressure, closed cell foam insulation is a sealant. It permanently seals your air ducts! As we spray your air duct system, we include the connections where your ducts are attached to your air handler. These are notorious locations for huge amounts of air leakage. You win in three very big ways: Improved indoor air quality, improved equipment efficiency, and (in most cases) more airflow from your vents!
It’s an Instant Shade Tree effect!
We call this service our Instant Shade Tree. After 20+ years experience with Atlanta’s homeowners, here at Bird Family Insulation we’ve learned that improving air ducts while adding cellulose attic insulation is the safest, risk-free, quickest way to provide our clients with the solution to their uncomfortable homes.
What is the Instant Shade Tree service?
> We seal and insulate your air duct system with low pressure, closed cell spray foam insulation.
> After prepping and airsealing your attic, we upgrade your existing attic insulation by adding Applegate Bora-spray cellulose insulation for a final performance of guaranteed R-50.
Currently, the Instant Shade Tree service averages $4900 for a basic, flat 1200 ft2 attic, without accessories.
For those of you who are desperate to get your upstairs bedrooms comfortable, the Instant Shade Tree will most often provide the solution.
And we can perform the entire service in about ½ day!
– Bob Bird, Founder of Bird Family Insulation
[email protected] | 404-538-9168
Common Questions About Spraying Ducts with Foam Insulation
> Does the spray foam interfere with the maintenance of your HVAC equipment? Not at all. We do not spray the metal cabinet. We’re only concerned with the ducts and the plenum boxes, where the ducts connect to the equipment.
> Spraying your air ducts and plenums will not affect your warranty or service contracts with your HVAC company.
Why do we use low-pressure spray foam, instead of the high pressure heated foam that is used to spray roofs, walls, and floors? Two primary reasons:
- Our low-pressure foam is virtually odorless. You have no risk of lingering odors in the house.
- Re-entry time is only 2 hours or less, vs 24 hours for the high pressure foam. So you actually only need to walk the dog while we’re spraying your ducts, instead of moving out overnight.
Use Bird’s Online Calculator for your quick Estimate for The Instant Shade Tree!
Ready for your instant online estimate? Bird Family Insulation has an easy, online calculator where in minutes you can have an estimate for our Instant Shade Tree service for your home!
Investing in your air duct system, while upgrading your attic insulation is like balancing your Michelin tires, or eating healthy foods, or showing yourself and a loved one how much you care about your indoor air quality. Improving the performance and efficiency of your air ducts just makes good sense, and everyone in the house wins!