Note: This DIY article is provided as a general guide only and is not intended to take the place of product-specific installation procedures; always follow applicable manufacturers’ instructions. Depending on your home’s age and condition, location within the home, and other potential factors, repairs and/or upgrades or other services may be necessary prior to the beginning and/or completion of your project that may involve the services of a home improvement professional. This article does not include advice pertaining to local building codes and/or any related inspections.

Knowing how to properly air seal your attic is an indispensable part of maintaining an energy-efficient and pest-free home. By sealing air leaks, you can significantly reduce heating costs and improve indoor air quality. Additionally, sealing your attic helps keep pests, such as rodents and insects, from entering your living space.

In this guide, you’ll find the essential steps homeowners can take to effectively air seal their attics. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your attic holds in warmth during the winter months and remains a pest-free zone throughout the year.

How to seal attic air leaks in 8 simple steps

To find and seal air leaks in your attic, follow these steps:

  1. Inspect the attic:

    Begin by conducting a thorough inspection to find air leaks in your attic. Identify common problem areas where air leaks might occur. Problematic areas typically include spaces near:

    • Windows
    • Pipes
    • Vents
    • Chimneys
    • Electrical outlets
    • Light fixtures

    Look for visible gaps, cracks, or holes. Then mark these areas for sealing. A careful inspection is the first step in ensuring all potential leaks are addressed.

  2. Seal gaps and cracks:

    Now it’s time to deal with the small gaps and cracks you previously marked. For cracks less than a quarter-inch wide, you can use silicone sealant. Caulk is ideal for sealing stationary gaps and joints, such as those around window frames and baseboards. For slightly larger gaps, weatherstripping can also help provide a tight seal.

    Silicone sealant is often more effective when sealing gaps around pipes, vents, and other attic penetrations. Even after setting, silicone sealant remains highly elastic and can withstand extreme temperatures, making it suitable for areas that experience significant expansion and contraction throughout the seasons. Silicone sealant is also water-resistant and should be your go-to for plumbing fixtures and other areas exposed to moisture.

    To apply acrylic caulk or silicone sealant:

    • Clean the area to remove dust and debris
    • Cut the tip of the caulk or sealant tube at a 45-degree angle
    • Apply a continuous bead along the gap
    • Smooth the bead with a caulk smoothing tool or your finger to ensure it penetrates the gap fully
    • Allow it to dry for 24-48 hours before checking for any missed spots
  3. Insulate the attic hatch:

    Your attic hatch can be a significant source of heat loss if not properly insulated.

    • Begin by installing weatherstripping around the perimeter of the hatch to prevent drafts
    • Choose a weatherstripping material suitable for the hatch, such as adhesive-backed foam tape or rubber
    • Measure the length of the hatch edges and cut the weatherstripping to size
    • Peel off the backing and press the weatherstripping firmly along the edges, ensuring a tight seal when the hatch is closed

    Next, you can enhance the insulation of the hatch door. Attach rigid foam insulation or reflective insulation panels to the inside of the hatch door using adhesive. For additional insulation, consider adding an insulated cover or box to fit over the hatch opening from the attic side. This will further reduce heat loss and help maintain a consistent temperature in your home.

  4. Address larger openings:

    Identify larger openings around plumbing, electrical, and HVAC penetrations. These areas are unsuitable for sealing with caulk and can be significant sources of air leaks. Use GE insulating foam to fill gaps around pipes and wires. For larger spaces, cut and fit rigid foam board to cover the openings, sealing the edges of the board with foam or caulk. This will prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from entering the attic.

  5. Seal recessed lighting fixtures:

    Recessed lighting fixtures in the attic ceiling can cause air leaks. Use airtight, IC-rated recessed light covers to seal these fixtures. Make sure to install the cover according to the manufacturer’s instructions and check that it fits snugly around the fixture. Seal the edges with caulk or spray foam to prevent air from leaking around the cover.

  6. Seal and insulate ductwork:

    Leaky ductwork is a common cause of heat loss, especially in A-frame attics in older homes. Inspect your ductwork for any gaps or holes and seal them with sealant or metal tape. Once sealed, insulate the ducts with fiberglass insulation to prevent heat loss.

    Sealing your attic isn’t just a matter of keeping inside air from leaking. Establishing proper ventilation is also equally important for preventing harmful moisture buildup, which can cause mold, mildew, and structural damage.

  7. Ventilate your attic space:

    Sealing your attic isn’t just a matter of keeping inside air from leaking. Establishing proper ventilation is also equally important for preventing harmful moisture buildup, which can cause mold, mildew, and structural damage.

    Make sure your attic has adequate ventilation by installing ridge vents, soffit vents, or gable vents. These vents allow air to circulate and maintain proper airflow. Ridge vents are installed along the peak of the roof and allow warm, moist air to escape. Soffit vents are typically located under eaves and allow cooler outside air to enter the attic. Gable vents, placed on the walls near the roof’s peak, provide additional airflow. Remember to use baffles to keep insulation from blocking soffit vents and clogging interior airflow.

  8. Pest prevention measures:

    To keep pests out of your attic, install mesh screens over vents and openings to prevent insects and rodents from entering. Use rodent barriers around potential entry points to deter larger pests. As rodents can chew through even significant barriers with enough time, regularly inspect and maintain entry barriers to ensure they remain effective.

To find GE sealants’ products for air sealing your attic, visit these fine retailers.