How Do I Check My Home’s Insulation Levels?

home insulation levels Are your home insulation levels up to current specs for energy efficiency and optimum home comfort? Almost all homes built before 1980 are under-insulated, and many constructed since then need an additional amount to reach 21st-century Department of Energy standards. The only way to be sure is to measure the thickness of installed insulating material.

Two types dominate in residential construction: fiberglass batts and blown-in cellulose particles. Fiberglass blankets look a lot like pink cotton candy, while cellulose is composed of tiny pulverized particles of paper and cloth and resembles mounds of snow.

How Much Do I Have?

Because heat rises vertically out of the house in winter and radiates downward from the roof into the house during summer, the attic’s the main focus for insulation. You can check attic insulation with this quick procedure:

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants. Once up in the attic, take care to step only on the walkway that extends down the center of the attic. Don’t step directly on insulation beds, as the thin ceiling underneath won’t support your weight.
  • For measuring fiberglass depth, insert a yardstick vertically between the edge of a batt and the ceiling joist adjacent to the batt. Push it down until it stops and record the depth in inches.
  • To measure cellulose, insert the yardstick straight down into a mound of particles as far as it will go. You should feel it stop when it contacts the ceiling below. Record the depth in inches.

How Much Do I Need?

Attic insulation standards call for insulating the attic to a level of R49 to R60. For fiberglass batts, this means a depth of 15 to 18 inches; for cellulose the proper depth is 12 to 15 inches.

What About Walls?

Opening walls to measure insulation is labor-intensive and not a recommended DIY project. However, a qualified HVAC contractor can utilize thermal-imaging technology to determine the type and amount of insulation without opening the wall.

Paitson Bros. has kept Terre Haute homes comfortable and efficient since 1922. Ask for more information about checking home insulation levels.

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