DIY Network

What You Should Know About the Installation of Insulation

Host Jeff Wilson explains the basics of insulation installation.

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installing insulation correctly is important

Depending upon which type of insulation material you use and how it's applied, it'll take a team of experienced workers to install. The insulation contractor is the person who will oversee the installation, and he or she will work closely with your builder throughout the process.

The insulation that you buy is extremely dependent on how professionally it's installed. If you're working with any type of fibrous insulation material, if there are any cracks, gaps, air voids or compression of the material, the insulating value can be reduced as much as 50 percent. This means that not only is buying the right product critical, but having it installed professionally and properly is absolutely paramount.

Note: Your builder and architect should be able to recommend a quality insulation contractor in your area.

A quality insulation contractor will be familiar with the many varieties of insulation, as well as how to provide the necessary thermal protection or "R-Value" to your home.

What to Look for During the Installation Process:

As for the installation process itself, you'll want to make sure that your insulation contractor is doing the best job possible, or in other words, that your insulation is being installed in away that maximizes its thermal management properties.

There are things that you should look for during the installation process:

Visit the construction site to make sure the insulation in put in properly and not smashed into the wall cavity and that it's "not" compressed.

Look around junction boxes to see if the insulation is tucked in around the back and also around the wiring and pipes. In fact, the insulation should actually be split with one side of it put around the wire so it's encased. Same with the pipes.

Note: If you don't put the insulation around the back, the pipe could freeze in the wall.

Constructive Advice: Rushed installation of insulation materials can block grills and vents that move air throughout your house. When installing any type of insulation, make sure that your contractor and his team don't cover up access points to your home's ventilation system. Be sure to look at the attic area to make sure what the contractor needs to avoid as far as access points — in advance of the installation.

Where Should Insulation Be Installed?

Now that you know what an insulation contractor does and the different types of insulation materials, the next step is to learn where in your new home the different materials should be installed.

Remember: The idea of your insulating system is to create a "building envelope," which means several types of insulation may be used in any given area.

According to the U. S. Department of Energy, there are five areas of the home that should be properly insulated. Doing so will help maintain an energy-efficient home.

  • The first area to insulate is the attic. Both fiberglass and cellulose are great for this job.

  • Walls -- both exterior and interior -- are the next area to insulate in a home. Rigid boards work best on exterior walls, along with a vapor barrier. Fiberglass batts, foam or cellulose can be used to insulate the interior walls.

  • The third area that needs proper insulation is the floors. Rigid foam boards (figure C) and traditional fiberglass batts work best on the floors.

  • The fourth area to insulate is crawl spaces. These are the raised areas (figure D) underneath the house where your home building team can gain access to plumbing and electrical works. Fiberglass insulation is usually used in this area, although foam or cellulose can be used as well.

  • The fifth area to insulate is the basement for those of you who have one. Rigid boards and fiberglass work best. And note that the basement is part of the building envelope, just the way the walls and roof are.

Note: There are a number of choices for the basement, including batt insulation and other types of rigid foam insulation you can use. Be sure to ask your builder about these choices.

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