Is It Time For A Home Insulation Check?
February 3, 2011Keywords Meta-Tag
How well is your house insulated? It's one of the questions we asked homeowners last week at the Charlotte Build Remodel and Landscape Expo, and for the most part, homeowners said "Well, its pretty good... I think."
The results might be debatable when you consider some of the variables of insulation, but let's first look at the recommended insulation values as set forth by the industry.
Ceilings require an R-value of 30 in the more southern areas of the country, but that can climb to 50 in colder climates. Walls vary from R-19 to R-21 according to the standards set in your geographical area. With that being said, it is good to know that more insulation never hurts a thing.
Check out the Attic Area
One of the reasons that heating and cooling costs are often escalated is due to improper installation of materials. If you have an attic that is insulated to the max but the material isn't uniformly distributed and doesn't cover every room adequately, you're still wasting valuable resources and putting extra wear and tear on your HVAC system.
Even when insulation is installed correctly, many things happen over time to degrade the protection provided. Blown attic insulation often looks good for a few years, but it can settle, get blown around, and be easily shifted, resulting in many thinly insulated areas.
Batt insulation stays put better than blown insulation, but it doesn't do extremely well around light boxes and other items that often protrude on the sides of ceiling joists. A better system in attics is to use batts to insulate with initially, and then coat over with blown insulation.
It's always a good idea to check the attic the first couple of years after construction to check the condition of the insulation. Topping off the existing insulation is a small price to pay for the energy savings you will gain in the coming years.
Exterior Walls and Openings
How good is the insulation in the walls of your home? If you don't have good insulation in your walls, a fix is not always a simple task. A good test of exterior walls can be accomplished on a very chilly day by simply feeling for cold intrusions. Generally, the worst spots will be around light switches and receptacles because it is hard to get full insulation behind them.
If you don't have cold walls anywhere except around the outlet boxes, you may be able to help the situation with foam insulation applied around the fixture. Be sure that you use non-conductive foam and check the precautionary statements on the product can.
Windows and doors allow a great amount of air passage, and replacement is sometimes the only way to improve the situation. If you check weather stripping around the doors and caulk the windows, there's little else you can reasonably do without changing out the units.
Every draft you stop and every leak you seal adds to the comfort of your home and lowers your heating and air conditioning costs. A house insulation check should be performed periodically following the guidelines above.