Replacing Insulation after a Hurricane
LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got John in Ocean City, New Jersey on the line who, unfortunately, lost some insulation during Hurricane Sandy.
John, tell us, how’s the house? What can we help you with?
JOHN: Well, I lost the insulation when Sandy came in and inundated my house. But I was very fortunate; the water came within 1 inch of getting into the house.
JOHN: So I was very lucky that way. But now I’m faced with replacing the insulation and I’m concerned as to whether I should put the regular fiberglass back or this blown-in type. There’s a type that they – that comes in and it swells up and blows in. And I was wondering whether I should go that route.
TOM: Well, when you say “blown-in,” are you talking about the expandable-foam insulation?
JOHN: Yes, yes, yes.
TOM: OK. So, listen, even if that got wet, if it was closed-cell, it wouldn’t have been a problem; if it was open-cell, you would have the same problem. Do I think that this is necessarily, based on the experience you had with this particular hurricane, a necessity? No. But it’s not a bad idea. I mean the advantage of that type of insulation, especially in a windy area like the coast of New Jersey, is that not only does it insulate but it seals out drafts.
So, if it’s cost-effective, by all means, I would give that a shot. That said, as you said, the water came within an inch of your house and we all know that Hurricane Sandy was an extraordinary event that is not very likely to repeat itself, at least in terms of the height of the water. And so, therefore, if it was my house, I would not also hesitate to replace that with standard, fiberglass-batt insulation, as well.
JOHN: So you think I – the blown-in might be a good idea?
TOM: I think the blown-in is a fine idea. It will be more expensive and that’s what you need to measure.
TOM: I’m sure you have a lot of expenses, as most people that were victims of that storm do. That said, I see nothing wrong with going back with fiberglass insulation, because I don’t think it’s likely that you’ll have to replace that any time in the near future. And frankly, it’s not that expensive to do that in a crawlspace.
JOHN: One of the recommendations was an R-19, encapsulated fiberglass insulation. They’re right around $3 a square foot.
TOM: Yeah. If that’s fiberglass-batt insulation, that’s pretty standard. And encapsulated simply means it’s inside of a vapor-barrier bag. But look, it’s not expensive. You can see that stuff at the home center. It’s probably $25, $30 a package, so it’s very inexpensive and it’ll do a good job.
JOHN: Well, thank you so much for your help.
You’re welcome, John. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.