Have you flown over the Atlanta area, and noticed how green we are? Landing and taking off at the Atlanta airport gives you the opportunity to see just how many trees we have in north Georgia!
From the air, it looks like our Peach state is carpeted with trees – so much so that you quickly lose sight of houses and streets under a canopy of green leaves.
I’ve always loved that about our state. In college, I had the wonderful privilege of flying in a small Cessna private plane every week, for an entire summer. I’d boarded as a farm-hand on a family farm in south GA, and the Parker family also owned or leased land in Alabama where they ranched cattle.
Every Thursday Mr Parker and I would taxi down his pasture, turn-around at the far end, and take off for a 2-hour flight to his Alabama operation. We’d work those cattle, and return to Douglas, GA on Saturday. That Cessna had few gauges, so we flew VOR, meaning we flew by sight and a road map!
Bobby the Pilot
“Bobby, hold this heading and altitude, and wake me up when we get to the river (Chattahoochee river). “
“Yessir, Mr Parker!”
I was mesmerized by the beautiful green color of our state, as I flew that route every week.
But trees and creeks have their disadvantages too.
Trees and creeks harbor insects and small rodents. In fact, they are traffic highways and breeding grounds.
Trainings with Georgia Power have taught me that afternoon shade from a big tree over your roof, provides the equivalent of 1 ton of free Air Conditioning in energy savings.
I cannot tell you how many calls we’ve gotten since we re-insulated our first attic in 1998, from a homeowner who said the house was comfortable until they cut down the big tree in the yard, or next door.
We all want energy savings, and energy efficiency, because efficient homes are comfortable homes.
We all want a big shade tree in the summer, right?
Got Trees? You Get Rodents & Roaches!
But with the trees, come bugs and small rodents.
And bugs and rodents love the challenge of getting into your attic!
Once in your attic, these pesky pests multiply rapidly and begin destroying your property.
Squirrels, mice, rats, roaches, and bats. These are what I call the “Big 5”!
I’ve been invited into some of Atlanta’s most beautiful homes, only to get in the attic and be horrified at the nastiness and filth from mice, rats, squirrels, roaches, and bats.
I’ve seen wires stripped clean of insulation, where squirrels, mice or rats had gnawed and gnawed at the wiring in the house.
I’ve seen plastic condensate pipes with holes gnawed through them, so that the rodents have access to moisture.
Under ridge vents and behind kneewalls I’ve seen so much roach poop that it appeared to be painted black. The poop literally crunches under my kneepads as I crawl.
Rats will chew through flex air ducts to move-in and I’ve cleaned out nests from the air ducts and the plenum boxes! I’m taking horrible filth.
Squirrels will remove the fiberglass insulation from the lower 12” of your kneewalls, only to relocate it somewhere else in your attic as nesting material.
Obviously, none of us want to live in a home with this kind of unhealthy filth and nastiness only two feet above our head.
When left unchecked, rats and squirrels can chew right through the ⅝ inch of sheetrock ceiling and chew a hole right into your living space! I’ve seen this in about a dozen homes in my career.
No Thank You!
Atlanta’s Attic Pest Clean-up Pro’s!
Here is our remedy for quickly cleaning up the mess left in your attic from an infestation.
Regardless of if you bought the house that had a previous infestation, or you just had an infestation – here is the expert’s way of cleaning it up.
- We remove the attic insulation. If we can get access to the insulation, we remove it. If it means pulling-up flooring (from storing contents), we carefully remove the floor.
- Bulky insulation is removed by hand. We bag it and haul it off.
- Loose-fill insulation is sucked out with huge, powerful vacuums.
We’ve got plenty of video content of removing attic insulation on our YouTube channel. Search for Bird Family Insulation, you’ll see the videos listed by title.
- The huge vacuums create such negative pressure that our hose sucks up the roach poop, rat poop, dead carcasses, leaves, sticks and nesting material, etc. If it’s not designed to be in your attic, it gets removed and hauled to the landfill.
- With the attic floor vacuumed, we can now apply the sanitizer to the surfaces. We use a product called DSV for this important step. DSV is a Disinfectant, Sanitizer, and Virucide. When sprayed or fogged in your attic, it kills the odors left behind from the urine, feces, and afterbirth of rats, mice, squirrels, and bats. The small rodents who used to call your attic “home”.
Ignore this step, and those lingering odors that you and I don’t smell, but rodents can – will attract new attention to your nice, clean attic space!
- Airseal the attic floor. We use a product called Pestblock expanding foam sealant to seal the attic floor, and isolate your attic from your living space. This is not a pest-control measure. Instead, this is an important energy-efficiency, and all-important indoor air quality measure.
Using the Pestblock foam, we endeavor to seal every hole where a wire, pipe, or electric junction box is located in your ceiling. We seal around every accessible exhaust fan, flue pipe, and recessed light fixture. HVAC vents in your ceiling and the 1/4 mile of top plates get sealed.
Large chases are sealed. A chase is a larger opening framed into the house from the architect’s plans, for the contractor to locate pipes, or hvac trunk-lines, flues, etc. that pass through from the lower elevations of the house, into the attic, and sometimes passing upward through the roof.
Airsealing your attic floor is vital because it dramatically reduces the dreaded stack effect. Stack effect is the powerful force behind uncontrolled air infiltration that results in the unhealthy, hot or cold, humid, dusty and nasty air from your attic trespassing into your living space. And vice versa.
And a natural consequence of airsealing your attic floor, is that insects remain in your attic, not finding easy access into your living space. (Airsealing helps deter rodents, but is not recognized as a deterrent measure to stop rodents). When mice, squirrels and rats nibble on our Pestblock foam, a bitter agent in the foam deters the rodent from continued gnawing.
- Now that we’ve cleaned up the attic floor, sanitized and airsealed the ceilings, we’re ready to prep the attic for your fresh all-borate, stabilized cellulose insulation! Here is our general protocol for getting your attic ready for your fresh cellulose insulation:
- Install a length of flexible duct to any bath exhaust fan currently not ducted.
- Install baffles (if necessary) in your soffits, to protect the soffit vents from being clogged with insulation.
- Install rulers, so that you can easily see the coverage of your fresh cellulose insulation. R-40 or R-50!
- Wrap any hot-flue with a fire-retardant blanket, to prevent your insulation from contacting the hot flue pipe. (A 3” offset is required by code, for all attic insulation products).
- Perform any specific prep required in your attic. This may include insulating kneewalls, protecting recessed light fixtures with fire-retardant boxes, elevated flooring, etc.
- Install your fresh, new all-borate cellulose attic insulation! Our standard coverage level is R-40 (12”), and our recommended level is the ENERGY STAR level of R-50 (15”).
- Install your accessories:
- Attic Stair Cozy. This is a zippered, insulated cover that seals and insulated your pulldown attic stair unit. The only brand we install is Attic Tent.
- Install your Whole House Fan Cozy. This is a ‘shutter seal’ that airseals the louvered shutter, and provides a small level of insulation.
- Scuttle Hole Treatment. If your attic access is a scuttle hole, we insulate the backside of the lid, and install a foam gasket for an improved air seal.
- Clean-up, and your inspection!
Clients ask questions like…
“Bob, how long does all of this take?”
“Do we need to be out of the house while you’re working in nour attic?”
“Is it noisy – I work from home. Is this going to interrupt me while working in my office?”
We ask for TWO, half days. Day One is cleaning out the attic. Day Two, is sanitizing, airsealing, prep and re-insulation. Usually we ring your doorbell between 7 and 7:30, and are gone by noon. That’s the schedule for both days.
Noise is subjective. What’s loud for you, may not be loud for me. We’ve rarely found that a homeowner is annoyed with our activity in the attic. The gas-powered vacuums and generators are located outside in your driveway or streetside. Generally, your crew is two men, or three at the most. Not much chattering is taking place. It’s every man doing his task!
We are not set-up as a company who performs remediation. So, if we’re working in your attic, there’s not so much of a health risk for your family. We wear PPE, but that’s because we’re doing this every day – and have to protect our lungs while vacuuming and cleaning out your attic.
How much Should You Budget For an Attic Makeover?
What’s the going cost for an Attic Makeover like the work I’ve described in this article? Currently, we charge an average of $4 per ft2 for our Makeover service. Any accessories are added to that figure. In 2021, our average Attic Makeover invoice was $6316. I expect our 2022 average will be more with the inflation we’ve been experiencing.
Tired of smelling your attic? Did you just discover that your attic was a playground for uninvited guests, like rats, mice and squirrels? Have the roaches found your roof vents, and moved from the trees into your attic?
One nice thing about our 100% borate-formula cellulose, the borax kills insects! As soon as they crawl across our insulation, and groom themselves, they die.
As long as your roof keeps the rain out of your attic, the borax in your cellulose insulation never needs to be renewed. Great News!
Thanks for reading!
– Bob Bird