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When to Replace Insulation in Your Home

Proper insulation can not only keep your home comfortable, it can also save you money on energy bills. But how do you know when to replace insulation in your home? Here are some telltale signs to look out for.

replace insulation: attic insulation
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The past decade was the warmest on record, and we’ve certainly been feeling the heat this summer here in the Portland area as temperatures surpassed 110°. Of course, air conditioning is a great way to stay comfortable when the mercury hits those sorts of levels, but proper insulation can help keep your home cool as well. Plus, it can help retain your home’s heat when the weather turns colder.

Although many types of insulation are designed to last several decades, some can begin to decay in as little to 15 to 20 years, decreasing its effectiveness. So how do you know if it may be time to replace insulation in your home?

Here are some things to look out for.

Your home is uncomfortably warm or cold

A primary function of insulation is to prevent heat from outside from getting into your home during warmer months, and to keep heat from escaping when it gets colder. If you’re noticing prolonged, uncomfortable temperature changes in your home, your insulation may need to be checked.

You have higher than expected energy bills

If you see an unusual increase in your monthly electric or gas bills, that may be a sign your home is having to work harder to keep your home air conditioned or heated. A faulty AC or furnace could also be the culprit so you’ll want to check for that as well. So, consider getting an energy audit to be sure. But if those units are functioning properly but you’re still experiencing higher than expected energy costs, poor insulation may be the cause.

You live in an older home

If your home is several decades old or older, it may be time to replace insulation. Or add it if it doesn’t exist in some areas of the home. The attic is the first place to check as it’s usually easy to tell if the insulation exists and in what condition it may be. Over the years, the recommended amount of insulation has increased. What may have passed as acceptable 20 or 30 years ago may not be up to today’s standards. This may be especially true for much older homes.

Unfinished basements in older home are other common areas that may be under-insulated and may be contributing to energy problems in your home. If there insulation issues in either space, consider looking into adding or replacing insulation.

What type of insulation should you get?

SPRAY FOAM

spary foam insulation
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One of the most popular and durable types of insulation is spray foam. It’s meant to last for the life of your home, is mold and moisture resistant, and does not shift once installed. Essentially, it forms a tight barrier against air seepage. Though more spendy than some of the other options, it ranks high on the quality scale.

FIBERGLASS

Another common insulation type is fiberglass. It is relatively inexpensive and also lasts a long time, typically up to 80 or so years before it needs to be fully replaced. However, insulation can start to release from the batts they were installed in after a couple of decades. So, it’s a good idea to check them if you’re experiencing some of the temperature or energy bill issues described above.

MINERAL WOOL

Mineral wool is a loose-fill insulation that is fiber based. It resembles matted wool and made from inorganic mineral material, like glass wool, slag wool, or rock wool. This type of insulation can generally last for several decades before it needs to be replaced. It is highly fire and water resistant, however it can cost up to 50% more than fiberglass.

Some green insulation options include:

AEROGEL

This silica mineral-based material is actually more than 90 percent air. All that air within the material helps Aerogel act like a natural sponge, making it difficult for heat to travel through it. The product comes in sheets that can easily be attached to wall studs.

RECYCLED DENIM COTTON

Jeans manufacturers produce a lot of spare cotton, and it so happens that all that natural material makes great insulation. It’s not only a renewable resource, it also has a similar thickness to fiberglass insulation. And it can be rolled into batts for installation.

CELLULOSE

replace insulation: cellulose insulation
cellulose insulation / photo credit

This material is made up of about 80% old newspaper which is either blown dry into walls or applied on attic floors by spraying. It can be more efficient that fiberglass insulation, and thanks to a natural treatment applied to it, is both eco-friendly and fire-resistant.

SHEEP WOOL

sheep wool insulation in house
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This natural product, literally made from sheep’s wool, is great at keeping out both extreme heat and extreme cold. Not to be confused with mineral wool, sheep wool insulation derives from a natural base. One of the biggest advantages to using sheep wool is that it’s a great insulator. Its natural ability to trap air creates a formidable barrier to harsh outdoor temperatures, helping to keep the inside of your home comfortable. It can also be installed in virtually any stud-built home, including in attic or loft spaces. Plus, it’s durable and naturally fire-resistant.

Replace insulation during a remodel

While replacing insulation in your home can be costly, doing it during a remodel can help ease both your financial hit and the inconvenience that can come with the installation process.

For example, your remodel may include exposing some walls that may require new installation. This can save on extra demo costs. Plus, since you’ll have work crews in your home, they can take care of the install and protect the rest of your home from dust and debris just as they should be doing with the part of the home you’re renovating.

If you plan on staaying in your home for several years, you should be able to recoup the cost of the installation over time. If you’re remodeling yoyr home prior to selling, new insulation can be an attractive feature to potential buyers, especially if you opt for one of the environmentally-friendly insulation options.

Are you thinking about a home remodel and aren’t sure where to start? We’d love to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!