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Does your home have enough insulation?

Posted by: Angie Hicks on

Top insulation specialists suggest homeowners have their insulation levels evaluated. Experts believe that more than half of the houses in the United States are not properly insulated. Here's what a professional inspects to determine if the level of insulation is adequate in your home:  
  • Check for exposed 2-by-4s in your attic. If you can see the joists, you need more insulation.
  • The proper amount of insulation you should have depends on the climate you live in. Obviously, the colder the weather, the more you need. Homes in the coldest climates might require up to 19 inches of attic insulation to ensure maximum energy efficiency.
  • Measure the insulation in the walls. Typically, the contractor will look for a spot in the wall, preferably in the closet where it’s not seen, and make a small puncture in the hole with a wire. If there is resistance and you can feel insulation, you should be fine. If not, the contractor will suggest adding more.
  • Check the temperature of your ceiling using a thermometer gun with laser sighting. They'll get a reading of a spot with no insulation, like right next to a ceiling fan, and compare that temperature to a spot that does have insulation. The spot not by the fan should be at a higher temperature than the other.
  • Check windows for proper insulation by checking for drafts. You can also turn your air off and walk around with lit incense to look for drafts, which will pull the smoke in that direction.
Before you hire an insulation contractor, find out what kind of insulation you currently have and ask what kind of insulation they use. Different companies use different materials, and it is not recommended to put a heavier insulation on top of the existing insulation. The common types of insulation are batt and rolls, loose fill (blown in) and spray applied foam insulation. Fiberglass and cellulose are two of the most common, but there are other forms you can use. Ask the company what your options are and to explain the differences between the varieties of insulation. If possible, use insulation that is free of volatile organic compounds.