3 Things You Didn’t Know About Insulation
Hot, humid summers. Cold, unpredictable winters. Atlanta gets it all.
If your home isn’t insulated properly, your comfort suffers. Have you ever felt like you need to carry around a blanket to fight off the cold? Or drag a portable fan around from room to room to make the summers a little more bearable?
Insulation plays a major role in how well your home weathers the elements. But you might not know everything about how insulation works.
Insulation doesn’t stop leaks, it slows heat transfer
No matter what type of insulation you have in your home, if you’ve peeked into your attic, you’ve probably noticed it’s tucked up neatly into every corner of the room. It’s logical to think that insulation is there to block out the air flow and prevent it from seeping down into your living areas. But in reality, insulation does little to prevent air leaks.
Instead, insulation is designed to slow heat transfer. Think of it as the insulated carrying pack you load up your frozen foods in on your way home from the store. It creates a barrier to keep the hot things hot, and the cold things cold.
You should fix leaks before you insulate
Since insulation won’t fix air leaks that exist in your attic, you have to fix them before you install insulation in order to keep your home well protected. Leaks can occur in many different places, especially in your attic. A lot of fixtures and appliances run through your attic – the furnace flue, lighting fixtures, cables and cords – so it’s important to add weatherstripping, caulk, and additional flashing before you add insulation.
While the attic is an important place to start, it by no means is the only place to check for air leaks. Your walls may be impacted around baseboards and crown molding, or around electrical outlets and light switches. Your basement or crawlspace is similar to the attic. Joists can wiggle loose, and gaps can easily form. Caulk and other weatherization materials should become your go-to fix-it material as you maintain your aging home.
Understanding R-Value will help you select the best insulation
The purpose of insulation is to stop the heat transfer. The R-value will tell you how efficient the insulation is at stopping that heat transfer. The thickness of the insulation is not a good indicator of an R-value. It is possible for a thicker layer of one material to have a lower R-value than a thinner material.
Instead, the US Department of Energy provides guidelines for proper R-values dependent upon your location. It depends on things like climate, the heating and cooling system you have in your home, where you’ll be adding insulation, among other things.
Don’t assume that two different products with the same R-value are the same. They’re not. Different insulation materials offer different properties that make them work better in certain situations. For example, blown-in insulation will act differently when added to wall space than it would being added in the basement, where there is more potential for humidity. Be sure to consult with an expert to determine which choice is the best for your situation.
Are you ready to make your home more efficient by adding insulation?