Find Out How Much Insulation is in Your Walls
TOM: John in Utah is feeling the chills; calling with an insulation question. How can we help you?
JOHN: Yes, I have a multilevel home and my first floor is very cold and I’m thinking it’s an insulation issue and if I should go into the interior wall or take the siding off and go outside and replace insulation (inaudible).
TOM: What insulation is in the wall right now?
JOHN: I’m not really sure what’s in there right now?
TOM: Mm-hmm. How old is the house?
JOHN: It is a ’99.
TOM: Ninety-nine years old? Well, there’s probably nothing in there. I would do a little exploratory surgery to try to figure out what you have, but the easiest way to insulate a house at that age is to use blown-in insulation and the way that’s done is a hole is drilled into the wall, usually about two-thirds of the way up the wall and then insulation is blown into that wall under a slight pressure and settles down and also goes up to fill up the cavity.
If you end up hiring an insulation contractor to do this, I would insist upon a post-insulation test where they can use an infrared scanner and actually scan the walls of your home to make sure they’ve hit all the areas where there was no insulation.
LESLIE: Tom, would it ever make sense to do that first so that you know where the problem areas are in specific wall cavities rather than having to, you know, cut holes in every nook and cranny? Or does it make sense just to go for the gusto?
TOM: You don’t have to cut holes in every nook and cranny. When you’re all done there can always be situations where there’s one part of a wall cavity that’s sort of blocked off by an extra piece of reinforcing two-by that was put in there, you know, a hundred years ago when the house was built and now you get this cold spot.
You know, when the contracts are working in the homes, Leslie, they get the sense as to how much insulation, for example, they’re putting in the average bay; the space between the studs of the wall. And if one cavity takes like half as much as the next, they’re going to sense that something is wrong. So sometimes the pros can kind of figure it out, but it’s always a good idea to do an infrared scan after you insulate the walls in a situation like this because it literally comes in – I won’t say black and white but it’s usually like red and white (Leslie chuckles) and you can actually see where the cold spots are and go back in and touch up those areas. And it’s not real expensive today because the equipment cost has come way down.
And if you do those two things, John, you’re going to know that the home is insulated thoroughly.