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How To: Choose an LED Bulb

These days, you'll find a dizzying array of new options in the light bulb aisle. The next time you're out hunting for a replacement, let this tutorial help guide your selection.

How to Choose an LED Bulb

Photo: supplyhouse.com

If you’ve gone out to buy a light bulb recently, chances are you’ve hesitated over the unfamiliar selection. Traditional incandescent light bulbs have gone by the wayside, having been replaced by a slew of newer—and seemingly quite pricey—energy-efficient options. Clearly, something has changed. So what’s going on? In 2007, the federal government passed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), mandating higher energy standards. One target of these new regulations was lighting efficiency. While the typical consumer probably never noticed, the standard incandescent bulb is a real energy-waster; in fact, it wastes about 90 percent of the energy it uses. Efficient bulbs can produce the same amount of light with much less energy.

Among the field of new energy-efficient light bulbs, LEDs are swiftly emerging as a homeowner favorite. In part, that’s because they produce the most pleasing light. But you’ve got to be impressed by their stats too: LEDs operate five times more efficiently than yesterday’s incandescent. Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com, adds, “Another large advantage is projected lifespan. While incandescent bulbs last about 1,200 hours, you can expect an LED bulb to last up to 50,000 hours. That would be equal to having to replace 42 incandescent bulbs over the lifetime of a single LED.” That’s impressive.

Though LED light bulbs cost more to purchase (about $10 per, as of this writing), they and their efficient cousins are poised to save the average household about $50 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. With such savings at stake, it’s no wonder everyone’s scrambling to understand the new products on offer in the light bulb aisle. If your head’s still spinning, consult the guidelines below for help in choosing an LED bulb that’s just right for your home.

How to Choose an LED Bulb - A-Type

Photo: supplyhouse.com

Watts vs. Lumens
Only a couple of years ago, we’d compare wattages in order to distinguish between the brightness of different light bulbs. Nowadays, what matters is the bulbs’ output in lumens. O’Brian explains, “Wattage really refers to power consumption.” Lumens, on the other hand, “actually measure the brightness of a light.” This isn’t change for the sake of change alone. The fact is that newer bulbs are so efficient that they render the old packaging system meaningless. O’Brian says that “while a 40-watt incandescent can give off around 450 lumens, a 7-watt LED can provide the same brightness.” It may be a bit confusing and inconvenient, but clearly, in today’s shifting landscape, lumens are the only measurement that counts.

To assist consumers in their watts-to-lumens transition, the American Lighting Association has issued guidelines for consumers seeking efficient equivalents to the incandescents they’re accustomed to buying:

• To replace a 40-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 450 lumens.
• To replace a 60-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 800 lumens.
• To replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 1,100 lumens.
• To replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb, choose a bulb that will produce 1,600 lumens.

Color Temperature
Anybody who’s worked in a fluorescent-lit office knows too well that brightness isn’t the only key factor. Equally important is color temperature—that is, how warm or cool the light appears. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin (K); the higher the number, the cooler the light. For example, “soft white” bulbs are rated up to 2700K, on the low side of the scale, producing a warm, relaxing glow. “Daylight” bulbs, rated from 5000K to 6500K, produce a crisp light suitable for laundry rooms, garages, and security purposes.

Shapes and Sizes
LED bulbs come in many different shapes, each of which has its own intended use. The most familiar bulb shape is known as “A-line”; these are what you’d use for, say, a table lamp. “Candle”-shape bulbs are designed for chandeliers and wall sconces, while “globe” bulbs are ideal for pendant lamps or any other application in which there isn’t a shade. Other popular shapes include floodlights, spotlights, and down lights.

Your Bottom Line
It’s certainly true that LED bulbs cost more than incandescents. The financial benefit of the efficient light bulbs comes over the long term, because LEDs cost about 75 percent less to operate and seldom need replacement. Think of it this way: Whereas running a 60-watt incandescent bulb costs about $4.80 per year, running an equivalent LED costs only a dollar.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com offers a large selection of LED light bulbs from industry-leading brands. For more information or to view an assortment of LED bulbs, visit SupplyHouse.com now!

 

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Make Your Own Shower Cleaner

With a little TLC and a handful of pantry items, you can keep your shower clean—and relax a little more during your next morning routine at the sight of mold-free tile.

Homemade Shower Cleaner

Photo: shutterstock.com

There’s no such thing as a truly refreshing bathing experience in a shower that looks—or even feels—dirty. To keep the tub, tile, grout, liner or door impeccably clean, laborious scrubbing is rarely necessary. You can normally get by just fine with light cleaning, so long as you stay consistent: Apply homemade shower cleaner after each use. Homemade shower cleaner costs almost nothing to make and involves only a few simple ingredients you probably have on hand in your pantry. That said, no matter how dutifully you clean the shower, there are occasions that call for deeper cleaning. We have recipes to help you handle that, too.

How to Clean a Shower

Photo: shutterstock.com

Everyday Cleaning
Diluted vinegar: It’s cheap, readily available, non-toxic and a wonderfully effective as an everyday cleaner. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water, and you should have enough to last at least a couple of weeks. Spray down the shower after each time you use it, and the homemade shower cleaner will combat odors and prevent the growth of bacteria and the buildup of grime. If you’re not fond of vinegar’s smell, add in a few drops of lemon oil to impart a citrus scent.

Occasional Cleaning
Even if you consistently use the homemade shower cleaner explained above, chances are that perhaps twice a month, you’ll want to go a step further to make your shower sparkle. On those occasions, mix one or two cups of baking soda with a few drops of liquid dish soap. Here, the baking soda acts as an abrasive agent to dislodge stubborn residue, while the soap breaks down grease and oils. Use a brush or sponge to apply this cleanser, and run the shower to wash it away.

Fighting Mold
With all its moisture, cracks, and crevices, the shower is a natural and notorious breeding ground for mold and mildew. If you get behind on your cleaning regimen and things start looking a bit scuzzy, restoring cleanliness may require some more firepower. In a spray bottle, combine 1/3 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup baking soda, and 7 cups of water. Spray down the shower, then watch as the vinegar and baking soda together create a cleansing, bubbling foam. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe down the tiles and tub with a damp cloth. Again, run the shower to wash away the cleaner.

Focus on Shower Doors
Take a two-stage approach to clean shower doors. First, mix baking soda and water into a thick paste, then use a sponge to apply that paste to the glass. After rinsing that away, spray on a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. Finishing by wiping down the glass with a soft cloth that won’t leave streaks.


Bob Vila Radio: Know the Signs of a Dying Tree

You can't always save a tree from demise, but happy endings begin with you recognizing there's a problem before it's too late.

It’s not always easy to spot when a tree is in trouble, but it’s important to keep your eyes open for problems. Here are a few red flags to look out for.

Signs of a Dying Tree

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON TREE HAZARDS or read the text below:

Pull ground cover away from the bottom of the tree to get a better view of the trunk. Here, hollow spots or cavities indicate serious problems. So can the presence of mushrooms; these may suggest the presence of rot or decay.

While you’re at it, check the ground on the side opposite the lean of the tree. If you see roots protruding, it could mean the tree’s beginning to topple.

Another possible hint that the tree may be in trouble: patches of missing bark on the trunk. A long streak of missing bark usually means the tree was hit by lightning, an event that’s often fatal, if not immediately then in the long term.

If you’re in doubt about the status of a tree, it’s best to call in a certified arborist. Besides having the knowledge to spot problems, arborists also use specialized tools, which enable them to bore into trees and access more definitive answers about their overall health.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Apply Polyurethane Sealer

It's important to top off your home's wood flooring and furniture with a few coats of polyurethane for both protection and an appealing shine. Follow these five steps for a smooth—and simple—application.

How to Apply Polyurethane Sealer

Photo: shutterstock.com

More than a mere shine, polyurethane sealer protects and preserves the finish you’ve chosen for your furniture or flooring. To apply polyurethane in such a way that it actually performs its intended role, precision is key. If you’re going to cut corners, then you may as well skip the sealer. It’s an optional coating, after all.

Perhaps the first thing to know is that there are two types of polyurethane: oil-based and water-based. Both work equally well, but oil-based polyurethane imparts an amber glow that many people find pleasing. The downside? It takes longer to dry and smells quite strongly. Water-based polyurethane, meanwhile, goes on clear, dries faster, and has almost no odor. It usually costs about twice as much as the other option, though, and some say it’s not as tough.

High-Quality Bristle Brush

Photo: shutterstock.com

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Polyurethane
- High-quality bristle brush
- Sandpaper (100- to 220-grit)
- Razor blade
- Polishing compound
- Tack cloth
- Mineral spirits (optional)

STEP 1
Polyurethane is going to accentuate the surface inconsistencies, so before applying the coating, take pains to properly sand the surface you are sealing. After, remove all dust and debris with tack cloth.

STEP 2
Stir, don’t shake, the can of polyurethane. Shaking creates air bubbles, which in turn leave bumps on the surface. While stirring, if you notice that the polyurethane has an overly thick consistency, thin it out with mineral spirits.

STEP 3
Using a bristle brush, apply the first coat of polyurethane in long, broad strokes. Keep the application thin, so it goes on evenly and neither pools nor drips. Coat the entire surface. Once finished, wait for the polyurethane to dry. Allow 24 hours for oil-based polyurethane and 4 to 6 hours for a water-based product.

STEP 4
Having allowed sufficient dry time, test to see if first coat is dry. Do so by lightly sanding an inconspicuous area. If the polyurethane remains wet, stop sanding and wait another hour or so. Once you’re certain the surface is dry, remove any dust or debris that may have stuck to the surface during the drying process. If sanding doesn’t cut it, you can use a razor to remove imperfections that wouldn’t otherwise budge. When working with the razor, be careful not to scuff the wood.

STEP 5
Apply the second coat just as you did the first, with long, careful strokes. Spread the polyurethane evenly over the surface and let it dry completely.

STEP 6
Once the second coat has dried, sand or shave off any imperfections as you did in step 4. With many oil-based polyurethanes, two coats will be enough. If you’re happy with how the job looks, wait a few days, then finish by polishing the surface with a polishing compound. If it seems necessary to apply a third coat of sealer, simply follow the process you’re familiar with by now. Note that you should never need to apply more than three coats of oil-based polyurethane. Sometimes water-based poly requires more than a few (up to a dozen) coats. Thankfully, it dries quickly enough for this not to become a weeks-long saga!


How To: Wire an Outlet

A do-it-yourselfer can replace an electrical outlet on his own, so long as he takes the proper precautions. Read on to learn how to get the job done safely.

How to Wire an Outlet

Photo: shutterstock.com

Simply put, electrical work is dangerous. With projects of any complexity or sophistication, we wholeheartedly recommend hiring a licensed electrician. There are, however, simple repairs and updates that are appropriate for budget-minded do-it-yourselfers ready to proceed with careful attention to detail. By following these tips, you can replace an old or damaged outlet. It’s a simple job, and so long as you take the proper precautions, it’s safe.

Adding a New Outlet
Adding a new outlet requires running a cable between the outlet location and the home’s electrical panel. That’s much easier said than done. For this job, we recommend that you hire a licensed master electrician, not least because building codes often stipulate that a permit is necessary for new electrical work, and in many parts of the country, only a pro can obtain the required permissions. In other areas, a homeowner can pull his own permits after passing a government-administered test.

Converting to a Three-Prong Plug
Old-fashioned two-prong outlets aren’t grounded, which makes them dangerous in the event of an electrical fault. Without an electrician, it’s safe to convert a two-prong to a three-prong outlet only if the electrical box housing the outlet is metal and the cable feeding the box is armored. If these conditions are met, the box provides ground-fault protection (even though the outlet does not). How can you tell, without opening the wall, if the electrical box meets the criteria? Simple: Use a voltage tester. Insert one prong into the outlet’s shorter slot (the “hot slot”), then touch the other prong to the screw securing the faceplate. If the tester lights up, the electrical box is grounded; you can go ahead and convert the two-prong to a three-prong. If your electrical box isn’t grounded, you can still convert to a three-prong, but the replacement must be a ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI (the type of outlet with a red button on its front).

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Voltage tester
- Needle-nose pliers
- Wire strippers

STEP 1
Before you go any further, it’s imperative that you cut power to the outlet you are replacing. Go to your home’s electrical panel and toggle off the switch associated with the circuit that sends electricity to the outlet in question. After you shut off the power to the outlet, use a voltage tester to double-check that it’s really off. Insert the tester’s probes into the top two slots on the outlet. If the tester lights up, you toggled the wrong switch on the electrical panel and you’ll have to try again. Continue your trial-and-error until you are certain the outlet is no longer receiving electricity. Don’t have a voltage tester? You can use a lamp instead, so long as you know the lamp works. Plug the lamp into the outlet, and if it doesn’t turn on, it’s safe to proceed.

How to Wire an Outlet - Screwdriver

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Unscrew the outlet’s faceplate. In most faceplates, there’s a single screw in the middle. Remove that screw, and the plate should come off easily. Next, unscrew the mounting screws that secure the outlet to the electrical box. Finally, gently pull the outlet away from the receptacle.

STEP 3
You can now see three wires extending from the wall to the outlet. If the wires are attached to screws on the outlet, simply loosen those screws in order to free the wires. If the wires are snaked into holes in the back of the outlet, press the release slot and pull the wires, assuming they don’t come out on their own. Put aside the old outlet.

STEP 4
You’re now ready to wire in the replacement. First, connect the neutral wire (white) to the silver screw on the side of the outlet. Make sure to orient the hooked end of the wire so that its curve goes clockwise, the same direction in which the screw turns as you tighten it.

STEP 5
Connect the ground wire to the green screw, using the same technique as described above.

STEP 6
Connect the live wire (black) to the gold screw, which is the last remaining on the outlet casing.

STEP 7
Carefully maneuver the wires back into the electrical box, then screw the outlet to the box via the mounting screws at top and bottom. Finally, position the faceplate over the outlet and screw it back in.

STEP 8
Go back to the electrical panel and restore power to the outlet you’ve now finished replacing.


A New Tool in the Shed Promises to Replace All the Others

What if the key to an organized shed is simply to ditch all your tools? Well, all tools but one. Troy-Bilt's newest system can mow the lawn, blast leaves, throw snow and much more. It may be the last outdoor tool you ever buy.

Flex System's New Do-It-All Yard Tool

Photo: Troy-Bilt FLEX System

Next spring, one yard care system is going to revolutionize the way homeowners stock their sheds. We’re used to such things as the lawn mower, leaf blower, snowblower and pressure washer all being separate machines, but the FLEX line, from Troy-Bilt, unites them all in a single, first-of-its-kind outdoor tool.

At its heart, the FLEX is a single engine designed to power a suite of attachments, each designed for a specific purpose. Choose only the attachments you want, foregoing the ones you don’t need. In addition to the four that currently comprise the FLEX roster, the company plans to develop the following in 2015 and 2016:
- Power broom
- Log splitter
- Water pump
- Chipper/shredder
- Generator
- Aerator
- Dethatcher
- Brushcutter

Each attachment will be sold separately, in à la carte fashion. The only component all customers need to buy is the power base. From there, it’s a question of need. If you live in a warmer part of the country, the attachments you choose are very likely to be different from those chosen by a homeowner in the Northeast.

FLEX System Lawn Mower and Leaf Blower units

FLEX System Lawn Mower and Leaf Blower units

The real advantage of the FLEX is how it frees you from having to store a bevy of single-function outdoor tools, each with its own bulky motor. According to Troy-Bilt, the FLEX line takes up to 60% less storage space than a traditional collection of the same equipment. Plus, there’s only one engine to maintain.

FLEX System Snow Thrower and Pressure Washer units

FLEX System Snow Thrower and Pressure Washer units

When the FLEX hits stores in March, the power base is expected to retail for $399, with a four-year limited warranty. Attachments will range from $279 to $499, each covered for two years. It may seem like a long time to wait, but we’ve waited so long to fit the car in the garage again, we can probably hold off a little longer.


The Right Way to Start a Fire

Build a crackling fire that gives off satisfying, comfort-giving heat while requiring very little in the way of poking and prodding.

How to Start a Fie in the Fireplace

Photo: shutterstock.com

At first it may seem like a foolproof undertaking: You put some wood in the fireplace, light a match, then sit back and watch it burn, right? Well, yes and no. With seasoned firewood, a box of matches, and a handful of kindling, you can go a long way on trial-and-error alone. But if you build fires often and have grown tired of returning again and again to poke at the logs—or if you care about how much heat the fire actually gives off—then it’s a tremendous help to master a tried-and-true method of starting a fire in the fireplace. We’ll explain two such methods here, but first:

• Be sure your chimney has been cleaned by a professional. Over time, creosote builds up in the flue, making it vulnerable to chimney fires.

• Before bringing a flame into the equation, remember to open the fireplace damper so that smoke doesn’t overcome your living room.

• If your fireplace does not have a grate, add one for safety and to encourage the airflow needed to sustain combustion.

Once you’ve prepared the hearth and chimney, proceed to making the fire. With either strategy below, assuming proper execution, you should end up with a fire that not only generates a comforting degree of heat, but also burns well on its own, without needing near-constant attention and care.

 

THE “LOG CABIN” METHOD

How to Start a Fire in the Fireplace - Log Cabin Method

Photo: wikimedia.org

1. Place two thin logs with no bark parallel to the back of the fireplace, about six inches apart from one another.

2. Heap kindling—whether newspapers, twigs, or both—between the two logs from the previous step.

3. Position two additional logs perpendicular to the first two. You should end up with a primitive log cabin-type structure that is two logs tall.

4. If you choose, add one more layer, with the logs running in the same direction as the first pair.

5. Light the kindling.

Note: In 1978, Mother Earth News reported on a variation of the above, tweaked for maximum heat production. Start by laying kindling in the middle. Next, run two pieces of wood parallel to the sides of the firebox. The far tips of both logs should actually touch the rear of the firebox. Now, as in the normal log cabin method, lay two additional logs perpendicular to the existing two. Importantly, the rear perpendicular log should be touching the back of the fireplace. The other perpendicular log should be very close (not six inches away, as in the first log cabin version). Finally, light the kindling and enjoy a better blast of warmth from your winter blaze.

 

THE “UPSIDE DOWN” METHOD

How to Start a Fire in the Fireplace - Upside Down Approach

Photo: wikimedia.org

1. Line up your largest logs across the fireplace grate.

2. Lay a row of smaller logs on top of the logs that you arranged in the previous step.

3. Add one or more layers, each one comprising smaller logs than the last.

4. Use your kindling to form the final, top layer.

5. Light the fire from the top and enjoy fuss-free flames all night.

As the smaller wood on top starts to burn, hot embers drop down, gradually igniting the larger logs below. The upside-down method is typically thought to be superior to the log cabin approach, because, for one thing, the pyramidal arrangement creates a stronger draft. That draft feeds oxygen to the fire, allowing it to burn strong and for a longer period of time. Plus, consensus seems to be that the upside-down method produces more heat than the log cabin approach.

Why not try both and decide for yourself which you like better?


Bob Vila Radio: How to Remove Paint Spots from Wood Floors

In the course of completing a recent paint project, stray drops of paint managed to get on your finished wood floors. Don't worry! Here's some advice on how to get those up.

When’s the best time to remove paint spots from wooden floors? Right after the paint hits the floor, of course! But what if you don’t notice a spot until later, by which point the paint has become hard as a rock?

How to Remove Paint from Wood Flooring

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING PAINT FROM WOOD FLOORS or read the text below:

Try using a rigid plastic putty knife, paired with light taps from a hammer. If that doesn’t work, use a hair dryer to warm the spot, then give the putty knife another try (be careful not to apply too much heat, as that could damage the floor). For paint that’s landed between floorboards, try gentle strokes using a pull scraper. Solvents can also be a big help, provided you choose the type that’s appropriate for the paint you used, be it oil- or water-based.

Stains are toughest when the paint has bonded with the finish of the floor and seeped into the grain of the wood. When that happens, you may need to use a pull scraper to remove the paint—along with the finish—before touching up afterwards to reseal the floor.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Think Before You Install a Kitchen Island

A potentially welcome addition to the heart of your home, the kitchen island deserves thoughtful planning.

Installing a kitchen island doesn’t just enhance the look of your kitchen. It can also make meal prep a lot more enjoyable and provide a great setting for socializing. If you’re thinking of adding a kitchen island, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

Kitchen Island Planning

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Listen to BOB VILA ON KITCHEN ISLANDS or read the text below:

Make sure you allow adequate space, and not only for the island itself, but also for the space around it. Most contractors suggest at least three feet between the island and kitchen appliances. Four is even better. If seating is part of the plan, position stools around corners rather than in a straight line. That makes for easier conversation.

Electrical outlets? The more the merrier. Below-counter nooks are perfect for setting up a charging station for your mobile devices.

One other point: Before you start the project, make sure you really want a lot of people hanging out in your kitchen. Once you’ve installed the island, it’s likely to become a very popular spot!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day. 


So, You Want to… Insulate the Attic

Insulate your attic to keep your heating and cooling from going through the roof, along with your monthly budget!

How to Insulate an Attic

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Are you getting the sense that your heating and cooling costs are going through the roof? You might be absolutely right: An attic with poor insulation can cost you big bucks. Why wait any longer? The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that attic insulation can substantially decrease—by anywhere from 10 to 15 percent—the amount of money you devote each month to keeping your house at a comfortable temperature. Whether you undertake the job yourself or a hire out the work to a contractor, you’ll experience both an immediate and long-term benefit to your bottom line. As you start planning to insulate the attic, consider the following factors.

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Types of Insulation
There are many different types of insulation, all of which are readily available at your local home center. For the tightest nooks and crannies of the attic, many people choose loose-fill insulation. Most common, though, is blanket-style insulation, made of either fiberglass or rock wool. The material comes in rolls or square batts, and for the convenience of contractors and do-it-yourselfers alike, it’s presized to fit between most studs, rafters, and joists. To seal up air leaks around chimneys, plumbing stacks, or any similar components that penetrate the building envelope, hire a pro to apply closed- or open-cell spray foam insulation.

How to Install Attic Insulation - Fiberglass Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

R-Values 
How much is enough insulation? In part, that depends on what type of insulation you’ve chosen to install. Each type rates differently on the R-value scale—a measure of how well a product blocks the passage of heat and cold. Most current building codes call for R-50 insulation in the attics of new homes, while specifying R-38 for insulation retrofit into existing dwellings. But the age of the home isn’t the only variable; one must also consider its geographical location. Energy Star provides an easy-to-read chart that specifies the recommended R-values for different parts of the country.

Ventilation
It may seem counterintuitive, but while attic insulation is critical, ventilation of the attic is equally important. Without ventilation, moisture can accumulate and condense, eventually rotting the insulation and compromising structural integrity. As well, ventilation goes a long way toward neutralizing the seasonal threat posed by ice dams, which are capable of causing extensive, expensive damage.

Some experts discount the value of attic vents, particularly in warmer climates. Most, however, agree that vents in the attic not only keep the house more comfortable, but also prevent potential problems. The typical attic includes ventilation in three locations: on gable ends, along the roof ridge, and in soffits. If you’re planning to install attic insulation, it only makes sense to think about ventilation too.

Before You Start
Before you begin the installation process, no matter what type of insulation you’ve chosen, take the time to do some prep work. In attics without lighting, prep includes plugging in a temporary clip-on work lamp; a flashlight won’t cut it here. Once you can see what you’re doing, look around for discoloration or any other evidence of a roof leak. Make all necessary repairs before continuing. Where there’s no flooring, lay down 3/4-inch plywood panels, so you have a safe, comfortable platform to work from. Finally, remember that most insulation products release hazardous particles. If you choose to insulate the attic yourself, it’s imperative that you wear full protective gear and a dust respirator.

Notes on Installation
Insulation expands once unpackaged, so leave it wrapped until you are ready to use it. Also, bear in mind that if you compress insulation in order to make it fit, the product loses much of its R-value. A better strategy is to measure the span into which you’re placing the insulation, before cutting the product to size. To cut blanket-style insulation, place the product over a piece of plywood, with its paper (or foil) side down. Lay a two-by-four on top, temporarily compressing the insulation to a manageable thickness. Finally, run a standard utility knife along the edge of the lumber, through the insulation, and down to the plywood.