Category Archives: Insulation

Spring Clean Your Attic

It may not seem like the most fun way to spend your spring break, but if you’re not laying on the beach in Florida, you might as well be productive, right? Cleaning out your attic is one of the best ways free up storage space for all of the random stuff you’ve accumulated throughout the years and can even make your home healthier and lead to a more efficient home too! How so? Read on!

Start By Decluttering

Before you start climbing into your attic, make sure you have a few trash bags with you. Depending on how often you venture up there, you may find a lot of stuff that can be taken from your attic to the street curb. Other things may be perfect to sell in a spring garage sale! As for all of the items you want to keep, you should try to organize everything into sturdy, waterproof containers. Plastic totes work great and don’t deteriorate or rot like cardboard boxes often do.

Once you’ve removed anything you no longer need or want and have organized the stuff you are keeping, you should do your best to remove any dirt or dust that has accumulated. Sweep the floors, and dust the entirety of the attic to help remove the allergens that make you and your family sick.

Inspect Your Attic

Once everything is looking more spacious and organized, it is time to inspect your attic to see the conditions of your walls, ceiling and roof decking. Can you feel air blowing around recessed can lights? See light coming through the rooms below? Or is there evidence of past moisture on the underside of the roof deck? All of these are signs that your home isn’t working as intended and are things that should be addressed. In the first two cases, air sealing can be done by yourself or a professional. In the second one, more research is called for to properly get to the root of the potentially serious issue.

While you’re up there, you should also check to see if any of your current attic insulation is wet (sign of a current problem) or moldy (sign of a past and potentially recurring problem). Not only can this create a mildew smell, but mold can obviously bring health risks to you and your family. Old, damaged insulation needs to be removed and replaced and the cause of the moisture needs to be fixed.

Invest in Insulation

So after cleaning the attic and checking for obvious issues, you’re now in a great position to replace or upgrade your insulation (or maybe put some up there for the first time). Obviously, we recommend contacting us for a free estimate! We’ll do a thorough inspection of your attic and help you choose the right insulation type for your home. With added insulation, you can expect to save on utility bills and experience improved comfort through the hot summer months and colder winter. Insulation is an investment that will eventually pay for itself!

At the end of a couple of hours of work and short walkthrough with our Comfort Advisor, you can feel accomplished for completing a home project that you probably would have rather put off doing! Instead of wondering about the horrors hiding up in your attic, you now know exactly what your attic looks like, know where to find everything, and can take comfort in the fact that you’ve taken steps to help your family save money, be comfortable and stay healthy!
If you’re feeling up to it, you can even put together a garage sale to sell all that stuff you were ready to part with. Maybe you’ll even make enough money to take the trip to Florida that you would have preferred in the first place!

Air Leakage

A blower door tests the tightness of the home’s envelope by pressurizing or depressurizing the structure and then measuring the amount of time for the entire air supply in the house be replaced with fresh air. For the NAHB’s Field Demonstration of Alternative Wall Insulation Products study, four builders insulated different houses with the various insulation materials. Their summary noted the following:

  1. Better caulking, window foam and other air barrier improvements generated the most improvement in the building envelope – in fact, a large measured difference between batt insulated houses was found, when one used improved air sealing techniques and the other did not.
  2. Neither the Blow-in-Blanket System (R14 alternative viagra avis.7) nor cellulose (R12.6) measurably reduced air leakage but
  3. While foam in place (R12.6) had the lowest air leakage, the results were variable when uncoupled from air sealing techniques.

So, where does that leave us? The most important thing is that whatever insulation you use, the details are the most important thing. Paying attention to where air can come into the home is the easiest way to create a more comfortable home – or create headaches later if you don’t. The other important thing to remember is that every insulation system can stop uncontrolled air. Just as the house is a system, your insulation is one too.

Insulating Pipes and Wires

 

Insulating Pipes and Wires: Right vs Wrong 

What comprises a good insulation job? What should it look like? Where are the most common errors? We’ll take the next few months to look at some common installation issues.

Insulating Pipes & Wires

Let’s start with a sample job: Most of the insulation near the electric box is pressed to the side of it, with little or none behind the box. As a result, there is part of this cavity with no insulation and another with compressed insulation.

Here’s another installation scenario: The installer has taken the time to cut the batt and adequately insulate behind the box. By insulating this way, compression of the batt beside the box is also avoided. Of course, the Blow-in-Blanket System fills voids and gaps around pipes and wires completely. BIBS also increases the wall insulation R-value to R15 in 2×4 walls. However, a good batt installation is possible – it just requires attention to the details.

Insulating Pipes Insulation Wire Insulation Wichita Northstar Pipes Wires

The Easy Way to get R-15 Sidewalls

This month’s installment of the Building Science overview – Indoor Air Quality

In the June issue of the WABA Digest, two separate columns discussed some of the proposed changes to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), particularly in reference to wall insulation. As a reminder, the proposed changes are from R-13 to R-15 in 2×4 walls and from R-19 to R-21 in 2×6 walls. I have no intention of debating the merits of this change. Instead, I would like to point out that the easiest way to achieve higher R-values without switching to high-density batts or adding exterior sheathing: Certainteed’s Optima insulation, designed for use in the Blow-in-Blanket System, achieves an R-15 in 2×4 framing and an R-23 in 2×6 construction. The advantages of using Optima are numerous – no gaps or voids, no settling, plus it goes in the wall cavity completely dry. It also contains no chemicals that create noxious odors nor is it a source of food for insects or animals. One of the main concerns about raising the wall insulation R-values is about adding cost and using Optima does cost more than normal batt installations. But given estimates of changing to high-density batts or from 2×4 framing to 2×6 adding around $1,000 to the cost of an average new home, upgrading to the BIBS system with Optima adds less than half that. Plus, you still get all the benefits of having a better insulation job than just thicker batts can give you. Regardless of energy codes now or in the future, Optima may be a better choice to keep your customers’ homes more comfortable.

Selling with Energy Efficient Mortgages

There are many ways of approaching Energy Efficient Mortgages (or EEMs) but simply being aware of them can be worth the extra attention – and qualify more buyers. Potential buyers can qualify for larger houses through energy efficient building. An FHA-approved lender can expand the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio by 2% because financial institutions that offer EEMs know that less money will be spent on energy costs, so more money can be spent on the house itself. With natural gas prices continuing to rise, this could be a very important selling point. Plus, more first-time buyers can qualify using EEMs. In fact, the EPA estimates that an average of 6.8% more families would be able to get a loan when using more efficient guidelines. As interest rates look to be inching upwards, having a pool of qualified customers can offset higher rates. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not to mention HUD and the VA all offer different programs regarding energy efficiency. In fact, one of the mortgages even offers 100% financing on the value of the home. Using EEMs is not necessarily a more complicated step. As Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines pointed out in a recent interview, “Qualification is much quicker and easier. Lenders can use their automated loan underwriting systems to get an immediate decision.” While we are not in the business of making loans, we do have information and services that can help in the design or build stage. A more efficient home is not necessarily a more expensive one. Let us know what you need and we can point the way. The Comfort Corner Information for this article was found at theAlliance to Save Energy website and at the U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Foam vs Fiberglass vs Cellulose

When it comes to insulating a new house, there are a few ways to get it done. The main three ways of insulating a new, wood or steel framed house are fiberglass, cellulose, and spray foam. So, other than the obvious, how do these products differ? Is one superior to the others? What really counts when it comes to insulation? For the next couple of months, we’ll be taking a look at these different systems to try and sort them out. To help objectivity, we will use NAHB’s study, Field Demonstration of Alternative Wall Insulation Products. We start at the beginning – with definitions: Fiberglass batts – Made of fiberglass, batts come in wide variety of sizes, thicknesses & R-values. They are available with a kraft facing, which is generally inset stapled to the cavity wall, or unfaced, also called friction fit, which is covered with a separate vapor barrier. The

They are available with a kraft facing, which is generally inset stapled to the cavity wall, or unfaced, also called friction fit, which is covered with a separate vapor barrier. The Blow-in-Blanket System – also made of fiberglass, BIBS is a loose-fill product that is blown behind a net that has been stapled to the studs. Holes are punched through the net when and where the installer blows the material into the cavity. R-values depend upon the cavity depth and density blown but can be up to 4.2 per inch Spray Cellulose – Made from recycled newsprint, cellulose is applied to wall cavities by a hose that mixes the material with water to activate a binder that has been mixed in. Loose material from the installation is often recycled back process.

Low-Density Polyurethane – Foam, made by combining polymeric isocyanate (MDI) with a propriety resin. Soy-based foams are also available. R-values are about 3.6 per inch and the foam is open-cell. Higher density, closed-cell foams are also available at a premium. If we stopped here, we would be forgetting one of the more important aspects of a good insulation job – the air sealing or polycel/caulking. In fact, this is one of the most important parts of an insulation job – as we will see later. For now, we need to note that there are different levels of air sealing and they vary widely. A standard air seal usually involves caulking attic penetrations & clinking windows with fiberglass, while and upgraded air seal involves sealing windows with foam or caulk.