Tips for Properly Installing Insulation

Insulation is a simple material that performs an important function. Insulation works to prevent the loss of conditioned air (either warm or cool) from a living space. While insulation is not complicated, there are some things to be aware of when installing insulation. Working as a handyman, I often see problems caused by improperly installed insulation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when installing insulation.

Fire Hazards

Insulation should not be installed near open flames. Installing insulation too close or even against a gas water heater or a stovepipe is the most common mistake that I see. Follow the recommendations on the insulation package as well as the local building code regarding placement near heat sources. When using kraft paper faced insulation, this paper is flammable and should not be left exposed regardless of the proximity of heat. When covering the backs of light fixtures, make certain to follow the fixture manufacturer’s recommendations. For example, you are not supposed to cover the back of many recessed lighting fixtures.


Insulation works by trapping air in the loose spaces of the insulation. Insulation should not be crammed into a space as this reduces the ability of the insulation to insulate. When working around pipes, wiring and other objects, cut slits into the insulation to allow the insulation to be placed without using a lot of force that smashes the insulation, leaves an empty space behind the object and may cause damage to wiring and other delicate objects.

Take Out the Trash

Once you have finished an insulation project, remove the trash that the insulation job produces. Leaving plastic wrappers, small bits of insulation and other trash in an attic or crawlspace can restrict air flow and provide an easy source of nesting material for rodents. As you should periodically inspect crawl spaces, attics and other areas for problems, removing the trash when a job is completed will make these future inspections simpler.

Other Tips

Do not place insulation over areas that are wet. Dampness in an attic, crawlspace or other area is a sign of a problem that needs corrected. However, even if the problem has been fixed allow the area to completely dry before insulating the area. Applying insulation over a damp area can lead to the growth of mold as the insulation will prevent the area from quickly drying. If stapling the insulation in place, be careful not to staple into electrical wiring. Do not block areas where air flow is needed. For example, do not insulate over bathroom exhaust fans (these should vent to the outside, but many only vent into the attic).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 + = eight