Almost everyone knows what insulation is and what it does in your home. It helps you maintain the temperature, reduce noise, and prevent mold growth.
However, most people don’t realize how quickly their home’s insulation breaks down over time. You can’t physically see this process, but it happens continually over time. That’s why it’s important to inspect your walls and insulation regularly – especially if you have an older home.
Poor insulation can end up costing you an arm and a leg on heating and cooling bills (up to 35%). So, you can think of it as a long-term investment with a great payoff that offers peace of mind, savings, and comfort.
Where Should You Check Your Insulation?
There are four main places where you can check your insulation:
- Insulation in the walls
- Insulation in the attic
- Insulation in the garage
- Insulation in an unfinished basement
- Insulation outside your home
- Insulation around windows and doors
Insulation in various parts of your home may be different, especially if replacements have already been done in some places. However, checking insulation in one area might give you a good idea of what’s happening in other places.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s good to have your insulation inspected and replaced every 25 years or so. Although insulation can last much longer than that under excellent conditions, there are usually changes in a house that impact its longevity.
If your insulation has been exposed to water leaks, don’t wait. Be sure to have it inspected right away by a home inspector or insulation company. When water collects in a warm and well-insulated place like in your attic, it can quickly foster mold growth. That can lead to a much bigger and costlier problem.
Quick Tests to Help You Decide Whether to Replace Insulation
There are a few ways to tell your insulation needs to be replaced. Here are some signs you can look for:
- You energy bills have increased steadily over the past few years
- Your walls feel cool or damp to the touch
- You have mold growing in your walls
- Your furnace or air conditioner runs constantly but your home doesn’t stay warm in the winter or cool in the summer
If you need a professional opinion to make a decision, you can hire a home inspector. Keep in mind that like most Edmonton home inspectors, my work is non-invasive (in other words, I’m not tearing out drywall to check for mold). I use the inspection techniques above in combination with checking exposed insulation in the attic, garage, or unfinished basements to assess whether and where the insulation in your home needs to be replaced.
What Type of Insulation Do You Need?
Before you install insulation, be sure to check the R-value (the measurement of a material’s resistance to heat) of any product you’re working with and make sure it’s sufficient for the weather in your location. And if you’re working with loose insulation, always contact a professional insulation contractor for the installation to protect your health and safety.
Fibreglass insulation is that fluffy pink stuff you usually think of when someone says insulation. It’s cheap, easy to buy and install, and it works well.
Mineral fibre is also easy to find and install, and while it has a lower R-value, it offers a few advantages over fibreglass insulation, including better sound-proofing.
Cellulose is a “loose-fill” material (you can also get fibreglass and mineral fibre in loose-fill, but it has to be installed professionally). You’ll typically find this in attics or other places where insulation is typically blown in.
Rigid foam is installed under your siding and acts as a vapour barrier to prevent water from coming into your basement or walls.
One of the most popular forms of insulation today is spray foam, which requires professional installation. Spray foam offers a strong vapour barrier that prevents mold, and it also has a very high R-rating.
It can be very expensive to have your home sprayed with foam insulation, so be sure to do a cost comparison before you buy in.
Who & What You Need for Insulation Replacements
Although insulators often offer inspections services, a professional home inspection company can be a neutral third-party to help you make a decision. Fortified Home Inspections is always happy to help you dig deeper to see what could help you get better energy efficiency from your home.
Replacing insulation in a wall can be easy enough, but for bigger projects, you might want to consider a professional. If you’ve ever tried DIY home improvements before, you know it can be a messy and time-consuming job. Insulating your home is no different. For major insulation upgrades, be sure to hire a qualified insulation installer who can work safely with the materials. Contact us if you need a referral to an insulation specialist in Edmonton.