Categories
Attic Insulation

How to Fix Heat Loss in Homes

With the cooler months’ onset, mitigating heat loss in homes becomes important to keeping energy costs low. The connection between the right insulation and keeping the warm air in is a specialty of SoDak Insulation. Reach out to SoDak Insulation for an inspection or estimate today.

The source of heat loss in the home is typically not limited to one particular escape area. Throughout the house, several places may be problem areas in your home and there may be multiple reasons why the loss is occurring. Discovering the trouble spots and being proactive in treating the issues will raise your energy efficiency and save money.

Where is the Most Heat Loss in Homes?

If you think of your home as a structure similar to the human body, it may be easier to envision where heat loss occurs. We lose heat through areas of our bodies that are the ends of our bodies, such as fingers, toes, and the top of the head.

Keeping our core warm is integral to keeping the rest of the body working right. To accomplish this, we often have to help our own heating system work better by adding “insulation” like warm socks and shoes, gloves, and hats.

Your home functions in much the same way as the human body does in cold weather. Several areas of the home are more easily exposed to cold air and may need that extra padding to prevent heat from escaping. Identifying where heat loss is happening in the walls, windows, and doors will help take steps to reduce heat loss.

home with a scarf and hat to prevent heat loss in homes

Take It From The Top

Your attic should be the first place to build up that important thermal resistance in keeping cold air out and warm air inside the home. As heat rises, the attic and roof spaces are the number one source of heat loss — just like your head on your body.

Poor ventilation and insulation are the two main avenues to your attic and roof becoming a major source of heat loss in your home. Looking for things like ice dams in the eaves will help you determine how your ventilation is working. 

How much and the type of insulation installed in the attic plays a major role in energy efficiency and preventing heat loss in homes. Adding additional insulation may be the easiest fix for controlling heat loss. 

Being able to tell if you need to add insulation or replace it in your attic is pretty easy: here are some great tips on doing a couple of quick checks without fuss. 

cold man with warm clothing at the window of his home trying to prevent heat loss

The Eyes of the Home

Windows and doors often are the clear culprits in allowing heat to escape your home. As they can be opened and shut, doors and windows allow unwanted cold air to enter your home every time they are opened. This can suck the warm air right out of your home.

There is some great news regarding how to deal with these problem areas in your home. Most issues with doors and windows can be solved by reapplying updated caulking and weatherstripping, which can be done as DIY projects to help save on costs. 

Sometimes if these measures do not mitigate the heat loss, you may need to replace your windows with double or triple glazed windows. Doors also may need to be updated if there are cracks in them that allow heat loss. 

The Fingers and Skin

Walls, windows, and doors combined account for 60% of heat loss in homes. Walls act as the skin in your home. When you are outside on a brisk December day, bundled up in your warm jacket, hat, and mittens, your face will often be icy to the touch of your warm hands. The skin acts as a conductor for the heat inside trying to escape. 

Proper insulation for walls will help act as a covering like socks are for feet. While the exterior walls of your home are battered by frigid cold air, the insulation between these walls and your interior walls is what will prevent the cold from winning that battle. 

Start with making sure caulking and weatherstripping are up to date around the windows and doors. Also, check your electrical outlets to make sure there aren’t drafts coming through them. Make sure to check your heating system itself. It may need to be serviced, flushed, or updated.

In older homes, where insulation has had a chance to wear down or wasn’t installed well or with the right materials, to begin with, this can be a major problem. 

If the walls still appear to be allowing the cold air to pour in, it may be time to call a professional. While replacing wall insulation in your home may be a costly endeavor, having your home’s skin properly insulated will end up saving you loads of money in the long run. 

cold woman using a heater at home because poor insulation

The Toes and Feet

When your feet hit the floors on those freezing winter mornings, you may find yourself wondering if heat rises, why isn’t it hitting your floors from your basements. Most basements and floors lack the “socks and shoes” of insulation like the walls and attics have.

While it’s not common to install insulation in floors and basements, it’s not unheard of either and may end up saving you money in the long run. Increasing your energy efficiency, your heat keeping ability, and the warmth of your home by adding insulation in the floors can help bump up value and make your winter nights a bit warmer.

Ensure Your Thermal Resistance

Reducing heat loss in homes by evaluating how heat is escaping in trouble spots and implementing an action plan to deal with it will be a great cost saver for you in the long run. It also stands to reason that if your insulation is up to date and working great, your cooling costs in the warm summers will be kept down as well.

If you have identified any problem areas in your home, contact SoDak Insulation for a free professional inspection report and estimate today.

Categories
Attic Insulation

How to Tell the Difference between Cellulose and Asbestos Insulation

Are you buying or selling your home? Have you noticed higher heat bills than average? If so, it is time to get an insulation inspection from SoDaK Insulation and Restoration.

Do you know your insulation may contain asbestos, which needs special handling? Do you know how to tell the difference between cellulose and asbestos insulation by sight?

The difference between asbestos and cellulose is hard to tell, specifically by looking. The Asbestos Institute recommends a professional when there is an excess of ten square feet of asbestos. The risk of exposure and contamination is exceptionally high for you and those who come into contact with it.

sign warning of dangers of asbestos insulation

Asbestos: What is it?

Asbestos is a mineral found in nature. It is heat and corrosion-resistant. Builders commonly used asbestos as insulation in many homes and businesses, including in floor tiles and other building materials from 1950 to the 1980s.

In the 1980s, asbestos was discontinued as insulation because of cancer-causing dangers.

Vermiculite insulation, which may contain asbestos, is believed by environmental experts to be in millions of homes. A licensed abatement company is required to rid your place of vermiculite with asbestos.

Many dwellings have asbestos, but it only becomes a problem when there is damage of some kind, and the particles then become airborne. The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, known as OSHA, lists medical conditions called asbestosis and mesothelioma resulting from breathing in asbestos fibers. These conditions affect the lungs and can reduce lung function that often advances to disability and death.

What is Cellulose Insulation?

Various materials, including cardboard, hemp, straw, newspaper, and many other materials, make up cellulose insulation. Contractors use the paper-based cellulose mix and treat it with boric acid to give it fire resistant properties.

There are two types of cellulose insulation: dry cellulose, also known as loose-fill insulation, and wet cellulose.

Dry cellulose is blown through wall holes and used to fill wall cavities around pipe and wiring. Wet spray cellulose differs as it generally is used as an application to newly built walls. Wet cellulose is derived by added water to the spray, which gives a better seal for preventing heat loss.

Cellulose insulation, made from recycled materials, is considered eco-friendly and a fire retardant. Perfect for going green and earning LEED!

worker showing the difference between cellulose and asbestos insulation

How to Tell the Difference between Cellulose and Asbestos Insulation

Telling the difference between asbestos and cellulose is best left to a professional. Experts in the field highly recommend homeowners do not handle asbestos themselves.

It is tough to determine if your insulation contains asbestos. It is something you do not want to be touching and contaminating around your house. SoDaK Insulation and Restoration will recommend the best removal of any damaged asbestos areas and a safe insulation program for your home or business.

Besides traditional insulation, asbestos could be in the following places: cement, plaster, specific brands of batt insulation, electrical panels, and wrap insulation, such as on pipes.

Again, undamaged asbestos is generally not a cause for concern. It is a problem when the asbestos fibers transport through the air. Breathing in these fibers is a significant health risk.

As part of an insulation inspection, you should also evaluate for mold and mildew. Both can affect the insulation and its effectiveness.

Wear and tear on your house and bats and vermin are the leading causes of damaged insulation. A professional assessment is needed to determine the scope of asbestos exposure.

worker installing new insulation on a roof

Asbestos Guidelines for the Homeowner

The EPA (the United States Environmental Protection Agency) has the following guidelines posted if you think you have asbestos in your house.

  • Leave undamaged asbestos-containing materials untouched.
  • Limit access, especially by children, to any areas with damaged material that may contain asbestos.
  • Take every safety measure to avoid harming places with asbestos-containing material.
  • Have the removal of asbestos and repairs done by people trained and qualified to do such work.
  • Do not sweep up or vacuum debris that may contain asbestos.
  • Do not sand, scrape, or drill holes in asbestos-containing materials.
  • Do not use sanding or scrub brushes on power strippers to remove wax from flooring that may contain asbestos. 
  • Never track asbestos material on your shoes or clothing through any building. If you must walk through the area, have it cleaned with a wet mop. If the material is from a damaged area or a large area, call an asbestos professional.

Insulation Basics

Why is insulation important? As it sounds, insulation is a barrier to trap heat—the same concept as putting on blankets or jackets to keep your body warmth from escaping. Adding more layers and repairing holes keeps you warmer, just as with your home’s insulation.

Heat naturally will go to colder spaces, and that process is called heat transfer. Insulation decreases the transfer.

The insulation holds air in place. The soft material secures little pockets of air. Heat is more stable in insulation as it is not mixing around looking for the colder air, thus keeping the heat in place.  

Before You Buy or Sell

A professional inspection of your insulation is a must before purchasing or selling a property. No one wants to be surprised with an issue, such as the presence of bat guano or asbestos. SoDaK Insulation and Restoration will apprise the situation and develop an action plan to suit all interested parties.

High Utility Bills

Does your air conditioner seem not to keep the house as cold as it used to or your heat bills off from the past? If so, time to check your insulation. 

SoDaK Insulation and Restoration will come to your home or business, inspect your insulation levels, and restore areas that need attention by removing old insulation and installing new. You don’t want to find yourself in a potentially dangerous asbestos situation.

Professionals for the Job

Telling the difference between asbestos-containing insulation and cellulose insulation is difficult. The safest and best option is to have a trained professional inspect and remedy the situation. Call SoDaK Insulation and Restoration today to get your house healthy!