How (And Where and When) to Install Insulation
You may not think much about insulation during the warmer months, but your heating bills will suffer in the winter if you don’t. Insulation helps keep a house warmer in a colder climate. The less insulated your house is, the more you’ll have to turn the thermostat up, which is costly. It will also cause heat to escape from your house, making it work even harder to keep you warm. It may sound intimidating, but you can easily fix your insulation over one weekend. You’ll be more than ready when that harsh winter rolls around this time.
Types of Insulation
There are many different types of insulation to choose from. Concrete block insulation is a common one when home walls and foundations are made of concrete blocks. The core of them might not be filled with concrete or steel, in which case you can fill them with insulation. Another way that’s more effective is to put insulation on the interior or exterior of the blocks of the foundation walls. This will keep heat trapped in the room and heat the whole house up, cutting down on unnecessary costs of putting the thermometer up high to stay warm.
Blown-in or loose-fill insulation is where small pieces of foam, fiber, or other materials make up the insulation. The advantage of this is they easily conform to whatever space they’re put in and won’t disrupt any finishes or structures. This is a good insulation to choose for locations where it’s hard to install other types of insulation. Liquid foam is an option to use that’s cheaper and lighter than other insulation. The main disadvantage is it can absorb water, so it should only be used above ground level where water can’t get to.
Foam boards are another type that can insulate almost any part of the home. The benefit of them is they work well with interior sheathings, such as basement walls, exterior wall sheathing, and specialty places, such as attic hatches. They also decrease heat conduction in steel studs, woods, and other structural elements. Foam boards have up to two times the thickness of other insulating materials. Blanket insulation is one of the most common types of insulation. It’s made of flexible fibers and comes in rolls or batts. Some are flame-resistant for areas like basements.
When to Replace Insulation
Not having your insulation working properly can increase your monthly heating bills by hundreds of dollars. Your yearly energy bill will also increase. To see if your insulation is working properly, check outdoors to see if you have large icicles that are hanging off your home. Another way to tell is if your house gets very warm very quickly during the summer months. This means the insulation isn’t working to keep out the heat and thus not working properly. The sooner you fix it, the more comfortable you’ll feel in your house and the lower your power bills will be.
Another smart way to see if your insulation is working is to hire an energy auditor. They can see if you need to add more insulation or need to completely replace the current insulation. The audit will show where the air leaks are that are contributing to the house being too cold or too hot. The water heater and furnace will also be checked, so this can save you additional money if you fix them. Before you do this, check the insulation in your attic. If the floor joints are visible, that typically means you don’t have enough insulation installed.
Speaking of attics, this is the most common place where insulation is poor. This can contribute to air leaking out in the home. A common mistake people make is using the attic to store large amounts of items. From holiday decorations to clothes you’re not wearing, people love to store what they don’t currently want up there. Unfortunately, that makes it hard for the insulation to do its job properly. You won’t be able to put an adequate amount of insulation in the attic if the floor has wood all over it.
How to Install Insulation
When installing loose fill insulation, you can either add it if there’s no existing insulation or layer it over the material that already exists. The fibers in loose fill are typically in the form of bags. They can be blown in place to get the density and depth you want with a machine you can rent from a hardware center. If you want to save money, you can also manually pour the fill in the space and spread it, but chances are good that your job won’t be as effective as using a machine.
Batts often comes packaged in rolls that have different thicknesses. The widths are usually either 16 inches or 24 inches. This makes them perfect to put between the studs or joists of a home’s framing. You’ll first want to push the material into the back of each stud space and fill the stud cavity. Batts can be split to fit around any electrical cables. The key is to fit all the material in the space first and then cut as you need to for it to fit. Make sure to fill in any gaps around windows or doors.
While it may seem like a hassle to replace insulation, it’s worth it in the long run. You’ll stay cool when you need to with the insulation keeping heat out in the summer. During the winter, you’ll stay warm as the insulation keeps the heat in your house.
You’ll also save hundreds of dollars when you replace the leaky insulation. Sometimes all you need to do is add to the insulation you already have to close up any gaps there might be. If the insulation is old, a complete makeover may be needed. Figure out which insulation you want based on the spaces you’ll be putting it in. Take into account how much you want to spend on the total project and factor that into your budget.