Insulation is one of several key components to helping your home stay comfy. But you don’t see or feel it (in a literal sense). So what is it and where is it?
Insulation is in your walls, attic and in some cases it is in the floor. It is made up of many different materials and comes in select colors for the insulation fashionista. Insulation provides a barrier to prevent heat and sound from transferring to another area. So, during the summer heat stays out and during the winter heat stays in (hopefully). Insulation is a material composed of millions of tiny pockets of air. These little bitty pockets of trapped air are what gives the insulation its thermal resistance.
What is thermal resistance?!
Thermal resistance is a substances ability to resist or block the transfer of heat. In the building construction world it is called R-Value. The many different insulation materials have different R-values depending on what they are made of. For insulation, R-Values are expressed in terms of R-Value per inch, ex. R3.8 per inch of insulation material. Let’s take a look at a handy dandy R-value chart to help explain….
So what this chart is saying is (we will use the top line for loose fill fiberglass) the respective R-value per inch is R2.5. So to reach an R-value of R11 (blue line) you will need 5 inches of the blown in fiberglass insulation. (R2.5 x 5inches = R11) pretty easy right. The recommended R-value in Texas is R-38 so you would need 17 inches of the blown in fiberglass insulation. Don’t live in Texas….That is too bad.
Did you study the chart carefully? Notice the different types of insulation? Let us talk more about some of those .
Insulation is commonly available in batts, loose fill and spray foam.
Batt insulation looks like narrow blankets. They come in varying lengths and widths. Common widths are 12 inches and 24 inches based on the space between your studs and rafters. Batt Insulation is placed in the space between the interior and exterior walls and in the attic.
Loose Fill insulation is used to insulate the attic. It comes compacted in bags that can be spread out by hand or blown in by an insulation blower (recommended). Loose fill is more accommodating in areas where it is difficult to reach or has tight spaces. Common types of loose fill insulation are fiberglass and cellulose.
Spray foam insulation is used to insulate the attic and spaces in the walls. Spray foam is a mix of two chemicals combined on site as the insulation is being sprayed in the walls and attic. Spray foam goes on as a thin layer of liquid and then expands and dries in the areas to be insulated. Spray foam is an excellent insulator and can make spaces airtight where installed. So make sure you have adequate ventilation in place prior to using this product. Spray foam insulation should only be installed by a qualified contractor so do your homework and make sure you use a reputable company.
So now that you are an insulation expert take a peek in your attic and see how deep your insulation is. If you have less than 12 inches and live in Texas you may very well want to add more. This could help you reduce the heating and cooling costs associated with our crazy weather.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If you like what you have read stay tuned for more to come. When you need a Home Inspection please give me a call to schedule one. I am a licensed Professional Home Inspector serving Dallas, Texas and surrounding cities. I provide home inspections for Buyers, Sellers, Warranty and Maintenance Inspections.