Insulation systems must be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure they are functioning optimally. Although this is mainly the owner's responsibility, Energy Diagnostics has observed that insulation systems are frequently ignored. Damaged or malfunctioning insulation systems can become ineffective and pose several health risks, such as asthma and lung damage.
How do you know if your insulation is bad or needs to be replaced? What are the different types of insulation available? What is the healthiest and the most efficient insulation? How much money can insulation save you and can you claim insulation expenses on your taxes? Energy Diagnostics, a leading expert in the energy industry, is an independent, qualified agent that can evaluate your property and help you identify your insulation needs.
What Is an Insulation Inspection?
Insulation inspection involves checking external surfaces for the presence of cracks, corrosion, damages, or distortions; hot spots on high-temperature systems; or evidence of condensation and ice accumulation on low-temperature systems. You should have all insulated areas inspected at least once every year.
You might need to remove any external finish for an efficient and thorough inspection of the insulation and its attachments. If the existing insulation is significantly damaged or defective, it might be necessary to remove and replace the entire insulation. Re-insulation should be performed exactly how the original installation was done unless the materials that were initially used are now outdated or the insulation system itself was improper.
How Do You Know if Your Insulation Is Bad?
According to the National Insulation Association, if any of the following signs are present, it is an indication of bad insulation:
- Faulty insulation supports, including missing or loose securement.
- Damage to the outer jacket of the insulation system.
- Unsealed penetrations.
- Missing insulation.
- Condensation, discoloration, ice, mold, moisture, mildew, or hotspots on or in the insulation system.
- Faulty expansion or contraction joints.
Fluctuating room temperatures, exorbitant energy bills, freezing or damp interior walls, or melting snow on rooftops are other signs of poor insulation.
How Many Different Types of Insulation Are There?
There are four types of insulation: spray foam insulation, blown-in insulation, fiberglass batts, and reflective or radiant barrier. You should choose a type depending on the climate of your location, the area you need to insulate, the current R-value of your home, the environmental impact and flammability of the insulating material, and your budget.
The R-value, or thermal resistance value, indicates a material's resistance to heat transfer. It's a number between 1 and 60. A higher R-value indicates better insulation. The R-value depends upon the type of insulation, its density and thickness, and where and how the insulation is installed.
Spray foam insulation involves spraying liquid polyurethane into the cavity of walls, where it then hardens and becomes a solid foam. Blown-in insulation involves attaching a mechanical blower to a box full of cellulose and pointing where you want the insulation to go. Cellulose is fire-proof, moisture resistant, easily blown into tight spaces and also insulates very well.
Fiberglass batts fill large voids and prevent air from penetrating the exterior wall. They are ideal if you need to insulate inexpensively and quickly. Reflective barriers consist of plastic films, cardboard, strand board, and an air infiltration board. These are covered by a highly reflective aluminum-type material to reduce radiant heat gain.
What Is the Healthiest Insulation?
Insulation materials like cotton and wool do not irritate the skin or respiratory tract, unlike fiberglass. So, they are safe to handle. They are also eco-friendly and sustainable and have lower manufacturing costs. They can provide much better insulation per square inch than other insulation materials.
Cellulose, which is made of recycled newsprint and other types of paper, is also one of the safest types of insulation. ThermaCork, made from the outer bark of oak trees, is free of domestic toxins, reduces energy consumption, cancels noise, and is natural, biodegradable, recyclable, and renewable.
What Is the Most Efficient Insulation?
Polyurethane foam is the most energy-efficient insulation, as it has a high R-value and is also inexpensive to seal large leaks and gaps inside existing walls.
Spray foam is available in two varieties: half-pound open-cell foam and two-pound closed-cell foam, which is a more dense type. Although not the most abundant type, closed-cell foam has the highest R-value compared to other insulators, which can be up to R6 per inch of thickness. It also occupies much less space than fiberglass or blown-ins. Polyurethane foams are light, approximately two pounds per cubic foot in weight.
Many foams these days use non-chlorofluorocarbon gas as a blowing agent, which helps to decrease the extent of damage to the ozone layer. Icynene is a spray foam insulation made from castor oil with very strong sealing powers. It is also useful to cancel noise.
How Much Money Can Insulation Save You?
Insulation using polyurethane foam can save you up to $500 annually in energy costs when done properly. Although upfront costs are expensive, icynene can lower energy bills by up to 50 percent and save you money in the long run. Fiberglass batts when installed tightly and securely improve energy efficiency by up to 30 percent. The average savings per home with reflective or radiant barriers is about 10% in terms of cooling costs.
Can You Claim Insulation on Your Taxes?
You can be eligible for a tax credit of 10% of the cost of adding insulation to your home, up to $500. The Energy Efficient Home Credit, also known as the §45L tax credit, now extends to new home construction projects. In order to claim this tax credit, a qualified agent must officially verify and certify that your residence meets the standards. We at Energy Diagnostics can help you with that.
Energy Diagnostics can optimize insulation systems and provide them with proper attention and maintenance. We can help you save considerable energy and money in the long run and maintain your home's value. Contact us today for questions about insulation inspection or to schedule an appointment.