DIY Home Improvement: Insulation Installation Tips

With this winter being very mild for much of the country, now is a good time to look at the insulation in your home. The more energy efficient your home is, the lower the monthly bills are going to be. Newer homes are made with the latest energy concerns in mind but older homes may need a little upgrading. Here’s how to upgrade your insulation and what to consider when doing so.

What does insulation really do? Insulation provides thermal comfort, the resistance of the flow of heat and acoustical comfort, the resistance of the flow of sound. Insulation works by equalizing the temperature so that it won’t continue to flow through walls, or floors. There are different types are insulation: fibrous is made of air divided by small fibers which is formed into boards, blankets and cylinders; cellular is made of air or another gas and is contained within a foam of small bubbles and formed into boards, blankets or cylinders; radiant barriers are insulation systems that reflect radiant heat energy instead of trying to absorb it; reflective coatings are insulating ceramics that are blended into paints.

Before you get carried away installing new installation you should take the time to look around and assess some energy saving issues. Air filtration is a major source of energy loss and there are some inexpensive ways to correct the problem. A few ways to improve your air filtration problems are to install gaskets behind cover plates, install glass doors on fireplaces, put in store windows or cover windows with plastic, caulk window and door trim, install weather-stripping on doors and windows and check your duct work to make sure it is completely insulated.

The next step is to decide what type of insulation you will use. There are different types of insulation and different ways to install them.

Blanket insulation comes in the form of rolls and is available in different widths meant to fit spacing in wall studs and attic and floor joists. It is also available in a continuous roll that can be cut to fit. Also depending on the location you may want to consider flame retardant insulation.

Blown-In loose fill insulation includes fiber pellets that are blown into attics or building cavities using special equipment. Another form includes fibers that may be sprayed in with an adhesive to make them resistant to settling.

Foamed-In-Place polyurethane foam insulation is applied by an applicator and special equipment to meter, mix and spray it into place. This helps to prevent a lot of air leaks.

Rigid insulation is made from plastic foams and is pressed into board-like forms and molded pipe-coverings. These insulations provide both thermal and acoustical insulation. These boards may also be faced with a reflective foil that reduces low heat flow when next to an air space.

Reflective insulation systems are fabricated from aluminum foils with a variety of backings such as Kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles or cardboard. The resistance to heat flow depends on the direction of the heat flow. This type of insulation is most effective in reducing downward heat flow.

Radiant barriers are sometimes used in buildings to reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss. This is typically painted on to the inside of roofs and is easily applied.

Spray foam is a foam product that is installed at high temperatures using special equipment. The insulation is sprayed in as a liquid, which then expands within a matter of seconds.

Insulation paint is reinforced with vacuum filled ceramic beads and forms an insulating air barrier on the surface of the painted area. This will greatly reduce the transfer of heat from one side of the surface to the other. These paints are the perfect solution to older homes with little to no insulation.

With many choices of insulation to help keep your home warmer, there is surely something for everyone. Before starting your insulation project, be sure to check the air filtration in your home.

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