Insulation plays a vital role in maintaining a home’s overall health, energy efficiency, and comfort. Thanks to advancements in building science, many excellent insulation products are available. However, even the best product won’t function optimally if it is not installed correctly. In contrast, a properly insulated residence is not only healthier – and more comfortable – but can also reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 15 percent.
Selecting the Right Product for the Job
The first step in a successful insulation installation is determining the appropriate product for the particular application. Here are some of the most common types of insulation.
Batt insulation. Fiberglass batt insulation, like CertainTeed InsulPure™, is ideally suited for residential applications. The batts are typically installed in stud wall cavities, ceiling joists, and floor joists. This type of high-quality insulation provides outstanding thermal performance and noise control (acoustical) attributes. In addition, InsulPure is GREENGUARD® Gold Certified and UL-validated to be formaldehyde-free, making this next-generation insulation a healthy choice for both installers and homeowners.
Roll insulation. Based on the type of job, fiberglass roll insulation may be a good choice. For example, CertainTeed EasyTouch™ roll, which is compression packaged and encapsulated for easy handling, offers strong performance when it comes to both thermal and acoustic efficiencies. While most often used in attics and crawlspaces, above unheated garage spaces, and for fireplaces, roll insulation can also be used to insulate walls, floors, and rim joists.
Blown-in insulation. Blown-in insulation is an excellent option for unfinished spaces with irregularly shaped areas, hard-to-reach cavities, and small nooks that can’t accommodate other types of insulation. Typically referred to as loose-fill, this insulation type is installed using a machine. The blowing machines range in size, and some – such as the Bolt™ 3 – are portable and easy to handle.
Ductwork insulation. Poorly insulated or uninsulated ductwork can lead to a variety of issues, including air leakage, condensation build-up, and inadequate acoustic performance. Using a superior duct wrap, liner, or board will help to ensure that HVAC units are not overly stressed while also generating energy savings for homeowners.
Tips to Keep In Mind During Installation
NAIMA (the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association) offers the following guidelines to help ensure a successful result when installing insulation.
- PPE (personal protective equipment) – Always wear a long-sleeved shirt loose at the neck and wrists, long pants, gloves, and cap. Also, make sure to wear safety goggles, safety glasses, or a face shield (or a combination of these, as appropriate). And wear a NIOSH-certified disposable dust mask (N95 series).
- Air Infiltration – All insulation requires proper air sealing or the installation of a rated air barrier. All air paths should be sealed using caulk, tape, air barriers, or other air sealing measures.
- Wet-Installed Insulation – Any insulation installed with water should be thoroughly dried before covering with gypsum board. Humid climates may require longer drying times.
- Combustible Sources – Keep all insulation at least 3 inches away from combustible sources such as chimneys, non-IC fixtures, and heated flue pipes.
- Unheated Rooms – The walls, ceilings, and floors between living space and unheated areas should be insulated.
- Shower/Tub Enclosures – Insulation should be installed between tub enclosures and outside walls.
- Exposed Facings – Unfaced or special faced insulation products, such as FSK-25 insulation, are acceptable for exposed applications. In an exposed application, it is not acceptable to place a flame spread rated facing, such as foil cap sheet, over a non-rated facing, such as kraft paper or standard foil.
- Wet Insulation – Incidental wetting during installation is not usually a problem. Fiber glass batt insulation wetted with clean water can usually be dried and reused. All saturated loose-fill insulation should be replaced.
- Do not leave any gaps or voids in the cavities between conditioned and unconditioned spaces.
- Do not compress or crumple insulation in cavities or tight spaces.
- Rather than laying insulation over a pipe, slit it by starting from the end of the insulation that is closest to the pipe (or other obstacles). Then place the first insulation section behind the pipe and place the other piece in front, creating a “sandwich” with the pipe in the middle.
Wrapping It Up
Often an unsung (and unseen) hero, insulation is an essential component within any home. When properly installed, insulation complements climate control and ventilation systems while helping to maintain optimal temperatures and reducing unwanted noise. Specifying and correctly installing high-performance insulation will contribute to a healthier structure and provide more comfort to occupants for years to come.