Attic & Wall Insulation

While previous generations may have been content to live in drafty houses, most people now want comfortable warm houses. A healthy house today is well sealed, well insulated and properly ventilated.

A well-insulated house is a bit like dressing for the weather. A wool sweater will keep you warm if the wind is not blowing and it is not raining. On a windy, rainy day, wearing a nylon shell over your wool sweater helps keep you reasonably dry and warm. A house is similar. On the outside, underneath the brick or siding, there is an air barrier that does the same thing as the nylon — it keeps the wind from blowing through. Then there is the insulation (like your sweater) and a vapor barrier, which helps keep moisture away from the house structure where it can do damage.

Signs of Insulation Problems

In the winter

  • walls cold to touch
  • cold floors
  • high heating costs
  • uneven heating levels within building
  • mold growing on walls
In the summer

  • uncomfortably hot inside air
  • high cooling costs
  • ineffectiveness of air conditioning system
  • mold growing in basement

 

Effective Insulation Systems

Effective insulation systems slow the movement of heat and deal with the movement of moisture at a reasonable cost. To do this, they have the following:

  • An air barrier, which prevents the movement of interior or exterior air through the system.
  • Carefully filled cavities, which leave no gaps in or around the insulation and which do not compress the insulation.
  • A minimum of thermal bridges. These are parts of the wall that, with a lower R value, extend from the warm side to the cold side of the insulation, giving heat an easy escape. The structural members in the wall will often be thermal bridges.
  • A vapour retarder, such as polyethylene sheeting, which prevents moisture from moving from warm interior spaces into a colder building envelope where it could condense.
  • Drying potential, which is the ability of the insulated assembly to release any moisture that gets into the system.

Is it Cost Effective to Insulate?

The right insulation system can save you money, reduce the amount of energy you use and make your home more comfortable. Keep in mind that installation costs (including changes to the framing, cladding, and finishes) are usually the most expensive part of an insulation project. The local climate has an impact on the cost-effectiveness of any insulating project.

Check the cost, heat loss and heat gain of all available options. Review all details to ensure that moisture movement is handled correctly. You can then select the right insulating system. When in doubt, consult a professional.

The Final Analysis

If your home is poorly insulated, it usually pays to upgrade the insulation. If you are building a new home, it makes sense to insulate well now, so you don’t need to retrofit later.

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