The temperature is dropping and the winds are blowing, winter is not far away. It's time to start preparing your house for the upcoming season. In today's post we will be discussing insulation and preventing heat/energy loss.
Insulation is like a warm, fluffy blanket covering your house on a cold winter night. Proper insulation can make a world of difference when it comes to comfort and energy loss. First let's go over the various forms of insulation. Loose-fill or "blown insulation" is made up of small chunks of fiber and is literally blown out of a vacuum. With batt insulation, fibers are woven together to create a continuous blanket of material. Batt insulation is available in 16-24 inch rolls, to fit standard spacing between ceilings and walls. Rigid insulation is tightly sandwiched fibers between two layers of foil, which looks similar to plywood. It can be used anywhere loose or batt insulation can, but is more expensive and more difficult to install. Lastly, spray foam is used to fill in convoluted and irregular spaces that other insulation won't fit into.
When checking your insulation, the attic is the first place you should start. Upwards of 60% of heat-loss is through the ceiling. The great thing about insulating your attic is that it doesn't need to be blown, glued or nailed in…it just lays there. However, over time, insulation can be blown around by air ducts and vents, settling in piles and leaving bald spots. If your loose insulation has moved, you can use a plastic garden rake to gently move it back in place. You can also use pieces of batt insulation to fill in holes and prevent more movement. If your insulation appears fine, but you still feel a chill, you might just need to add more.
If you find mildew growing on the inside surface of your exterior wall, or if your exterior walls are sweating, you need to check your wall insulation. Just like in the attic, insulation in walls can settle and become ineffective. Adding more insulation to a wall can be way more difficult, because it lives in between the interior and exterior wall coverings. The easiest and cheapest solution is to make small penetrations in the wall and blow insulation in.
An insulated floor can significantly reduce the loss of heat. If you have hardwood floors you should be especially concerned, because lack of proper floor insulation can cause planks to twist, buckle, and curl. At least once a year, you should crawl underneath your house with a flashlight to check the conditions under your basement. The biggest problem to look for is sagging. Insulation in your floor is usually held in place by netting or bailing wire. If there is sagging you need to repair of replace this netting.
One last quick tip is to always cover your water pipes with insulating tubes. Doing this saves energy, prevents freezing during frosts, and reduces condensation when pipes flow through attics and crawlspaces. These tubes can be found at any hardware store, they are easy to install and will save you quite the headache! A burst pipe and flooded basement are no fun to clean up, especially in the winter.
We hope this edition of "Caring for your Home in Autumn" is helpful and informative. As always the team at Donna Santore Associates is here to answer any questions you may have about renting, buying, or selling your home. Enjoy the season!