Replacing insulation may enhance indoor comfort and increase energy savings. The question is: When is replacing insulation actually required?
Under normal conditions, insulation materials don’t “wear out” or simply deteriorate. However, when affected by specific events, insulation may degrade and no longer effectively inhibit heat transfer. Also, other factors must be considered such as advances in composition and manufacture of insulating materials now on the market.
Here are some guidelines to help decide whether replacing insulation is necessary or advisable in your home.
Has it been wet?
Insulation wet by sources such as a roof leak or plumbing pipe rupture no longer effectively resists heat transfer. Common fiberglass batt insulation may dry out if the wet area is very minor and limited in size. However, significant soaking means that drying will be very slow, allowing mold growth to occur within the fiberglass fibers of the material. Active growing mold inside insulation is a common point of origin for contamination that may infect the entire house. In this case, replace the insulation.
Blown-in cellulose insulation is more severely affected by water contact. This material resists drying and remains wet, triggering mold growth as well as compacting the particles that compose the material. Insulating properties of wet cellulose are often permanently degraded and the insulation should be replaced.
Wet insulation of either type sealed inside wall cavities will not dry. Walls must be opened up and the wet insulation removed and replaced.
Is it too old?
While common insulating materials—fiberglass and blown-in cellulose—don’t have a specific lifespan in years, time still matters when evaluating whether to replace it. Over the past 20 years, insulation manufacturers have substantially improved materials and production techniques to increase the heat-resistance ratings of their products. In older homes with insulation installed at time of construction, replacing the outdated, less-effective material with new improved products is a simple, cost-effective project that can result in improved energy savings as well as enhanced indoor comfort.
Thinking about replacing insulation? Ask the pros at Hartman Brothers for more advice and options to consider.