Action Guide

Seal Attic Bypasses

Difficulty: Difficulty: 3 Expense: Expense: 3 Savings: 498 lbs CO2 / $46 Bookmark and Share

Seal attic air leaks allowing heated air to escape from your house into the attic and wreak havoc.

Why You Should Do It

Sealing attic bypasses is the #1 home improvement that every single Minnesota homeowner should do.  Why is sealing these air leaks so important?  Air leaks only come into your home because they have a place to escape - and that place is into your attic.  All the leaks coming up around your plumbing stacks, recessed lighting, chimney and attic hatch can cause some major damage by creating ice dams in the winter.  Take the time to plug these leaks and you'll be careless and ice dam free!

What It Costs

For air sealing your attic, it's worth it to hire a specialized contractor - you can typically get the job done for under $1,000.  And while you're up there, you may want them to evaluate your attic insulation as well!

How to Do It

  1. Select “Add to My Challenge” and pledge to seal your attic bypasses.
  2. If you haven't worked with a contractor before, ask your family and friends for references. It's best to work with someone who is BPI (Building Performance Institute) certified.
  3. If you have had any previous work done on your attic - air sealing, insulation, etc - have those records on hand to make it easy for your contractor to evaluate the job.
  4. Make an appointment for them to come to your home and clear access to your attic.
  5. Congratulate yourself for saving energy and money!

Common Misconceptions

It doesn’t matter if hot air gets into my attic, it’s still part of my house.

It all depends whether your attic is part of your living space.  Is your attic meant to be heated or not?  If you have a finished attic and use it as part of your living space, then you would want hot air in your attic so it’s livable.  But if you don’t have a finished attic, then when hot air leaks into the attic, you’re losing money. 

Not to mention that hot air can cause ice dams to form on your roof.  Those are caused when snow on your roof melts.  You’ll see icicles forming on your gutters and eaves where the water refreezes, forming effective dams that can force water back up under your roof shingles, through your sheathing and into the house.  It goes without saying that ice dams are BAD NEWS

And the most effective way to prevent ice dams and all the costly damage that comes with them?  Sealing your attic bypasses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q.

    What are the most common sources of attic air leaks?

    You want to start looking around the attic hatch, wiring holes, plumbing vents, recessed lights, your furnace flue and any open soffits.  Basically, any time something comes from your nice warm, heated house and penetrates into the cold, unheated attic, you need to seal around it.
  • Q.

    How can I find out if air is leaking into my attic?

    There are two good signs that an attic air leak is stealing your warmth and comfort.  First, if you have fiberglass insulation, look for batts that are black in certain areas.  This would mean that air is filtering up through the insulation, which is capturing the dirt and such coming with it.

    Secondly, look for cobwebs where cobwebs shouldn’t be, like down near the floor and away from any vents.  Spiders only spin cobwebs where they know they have a good chance of catching food – and that means air leaks that might bring tasty morsels within their grasp.

    The best way to find if you have attic air leaks, however, is to get a blower door test performed.  A blower door test will measure in cubic feet per minute how much air is actually moving through your home.  If your number is too high, it's a good indication that air is escaping somewhere that you don't want it to - like your attic.

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