Energy efficiency is vital to the success of any home insulation project and when it comes to selecting the right product there are a number of options.
The trick to improving energy efficiency long-term is not only selecting the right product or best type of insulation for the application, but also installing that product correctly. In fact, a bad insulation job can make matters worse.
Common Insulation Mistakes
Doubled Vapor Barriers
An easy way to boost the R-value of your insulation is by adding a second layer of fiberglass batts in the attic. But if the new layer has a kraft-paper backing, it can trap moisture and turn the other layers into a soggy mess so make sure to use batts with no facing.
Sloppy framing is often a problem. If you're using fiberglass batt insulation made for 16"-inch widths and the studs are 16.5"-inches on center, there will be a crack on each side that air can move through. In this case, it's wise to use blown-in insulation or cavity-filling foam.
Compressed Fiberglass Batts
Fiberglass insulation gets its R-value from the amount of air it traps between its fibers. Simply jamming batts between the rafters of a cathedral style ceiling will interfere with the roof's ability to breathe. The resulting buildup of moisture can soak the insulation, foster the growth of mold, or even rot the framing and it won't be as effective in trapping air.
Technically speaking, heat blockers are not considered insulation. Radiant barriers or heat blockers keep homes cool by reflecting thermal radiation. To accomplish this, thin sheets of shiny aluminum are bonded to bubble wrap, foam board, or sheathing and often installed to block heat from the summer sun. To be effective, the barrier's reflective surface must face an air space that's at least an inch thick and be installed shiny side up if laid on the attic floor or shiny side down if attached to the rafters.
Research shows that a radiant barrier in an insulated attic can lower attic temperatures by as much as 30 degrees. While radiant barriers are beneficial in warm climates, they're less useful in cold-weather regions because they prevent solar heat gain in winter.
Once insulation gets wet, it's not only hard to dry it out, but it will sit there like a sponge, leading to mold problems and rot. Vapor barriers such as sheets of plastic or Kraft paper keep moisture out of the wall cavity so the insulation stays dry. But a vapor barrier is not needed with all types of insulation; however, if it is required, then it should face inside in northern heating climates, and outside in humid southern climates.
You wouldn't use a baseball bat to pound a nail, and you certainly wouldn't use a screwdriver to change a lightbulb. Often times the right tool for the job makes a project much easier and longer lasting. The same is true of insulation.
Call A1 Handyman today for insulation services done right. From small scale projects to those larger undertakings, we are more than prepared to help you tackle each and every task.