Stay on Top of Your HVAC Insulation to Know If It’s Working

HVAC insulation restricts the movement of heat into or out of your home. It’s a natural fact of physics that heat energy moves from a hot zone into a colder zone. Unfortunately, that’s usually the wrong direction for optimum home comfort and HVAC efficiency. During the winter, the house loses vital furnace heat. In the summer, it gains outdoor heat you really could live without. HVAC insulation is the material that stands in the way of heat movement and keeps the house comfortable and energy-efficient all year.

In most homes, the attic is the focal point for heat gain and loss. Therefore, here are some ways to determine if HVAC insulation installed up there meets specs for performance and condition.

Measure It

Most attic HVAC insulation is either fiberglass batts that look like cotton candy or loose-fill cellulose particles that resemble mounds of new fallen snow. Attic insulation can be evaluated by installed depth. In our climate zone, fiberglass batts should be between 15 inches and 18 inches. Cellulose, which is somewhat more efficient than fiberglass, should be between 12 and 15 inches. The good news: If your insulation doesn’t measure up, an additional amount can simply be added atop the existing layer.

Inspect It

Heat-resistance properties of HVAC insulation can be affected by changes in the condition of the material that may be visually apparent. The following factors diminish performance and effectiveness:

  • Moisture. Roof leaks that saturate attic insulation impair the function of the material. While wet fiberglass batts may be removed and dried out, saturated cellulose insulation is usually permanently ruined and requires replacement. Mold growth in either insulation type triggered by moisture should spur replacement.  
  • Settling. Over time, insulation material settles, reducing heat-resisting performance. While fiberglass batts are less susceptible to settling, mounds of loose-fill cellulose are more likely to gradually settle over time. Performance of cellulose insulation may be restored by adding more atop the existing layer. 

For professional advice to evaluate HVAC insulation, contact the experts at Paitson Bros. Since 1922, optimum comfort and efficiency in your home have been our primary mission.

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