Many homeowners don’t give it a second thought, but proper insulation is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy and comfortable home. The purpose of insulation is to keep the air outside your home from getting in, and to help keep the air-conditioned or heated air inside from getting out. Besides keeping you snug as a bug in a rug, it can also help decrease energy bills, prevent the growth of mold, and keep undesirable noises out.
Signs Your Home Is Improperly Insulated
Homes that have cold floors and walls in the winter, or hot air trapped inside during the summer months, are usually poorly insulated. High or wildly fluctuating energy bills, uneven heating or ineffective cooling, and the presence of mold are additional indicators of poor insulation. Before insulating, it is best to do your homework. There are various types of insulation, each with different ratings of effectiveness, or R-value. The higher the R-value, the better it will work to prevent air exchange. Improper installation can also lower the R-value so always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, or get a professional company to do the job.
Depending on what you are insulating and the amount of R-value desired, there are many different choices. Below is a list of the different types available.
Fiberglass – Widely known as ‘the pink stuff,’ this is what most people think of first when insulation is mentioned. It is available in batts, has an R-value of 3.0-3.7 per square inch, and can be purchased at most home improvement stores. Loose-fill fiberglass must be blown into the space and should only be installed by a professional.
Mineral Fiber – This type also comes in the form of batts, is brownish in color, and is sturdier in composition than fiberglass. It has an R-value of 2.8-3.7 per square inch, is more fire resistant, and has better soundproofing capabilities than ‘the pink stuff’.
Cellulose – Cellulose is used mostly in attics due to its density, which is much higher than the fiberglass or mineral fiber. It, too, should only be installed by a professional.
Rigid Foam – This is used mostly on the shell of the house, under the siding, and to cover the exterior of the basement walls. It is also used to insulate underneath the basement slab, and comes in two different types, EPS and XPS. Rigid foam has an R-value of 4.5-5.0 per square inch and must always be covered due to the chemicals used to produce it.
Spray Foam – Spray foam is by far the most commonly used type of insulation. There are two types, open cell polyurethane and closed cell polyurethane. Closed is used for attics and outer walls and has the highest R-value of all at 5.5-6.0 per inch. Spray foam helps give the home a strong, airtight quality and should be professionally installed to avoid potentially costly mistakes.
Properly insulating your home is key to making it a cozy and warm place to live. Before doing any insulation work, find out which type will suit your home best and will offer you the most benefits when correctly installed.