Insulating Existing Walls
December 15, 2015
In most cases, the building code requires a defined minimum of insulation in a home's exterior walls and ceilings. Interior walls are not as important, although insulating these walls may contribute to energy savings and certainly soundproofing. Needless to say, insulating any wall is best expedited during initial construction, but it's also possible to install insulation into existing walls (exterior and interior). And the benefits of doing so will make the investment worthwhile.
Improving Energy Efficiency
Insulating existing walls (particularly exterior) will enhance the energy efficiency of a home, and will consequently save on heating and cooling costs throughout the year. As for interior walls, adding insulation does more for soundproofing than energy efficiency - however, "heat transfer" will be reduced, making for more comfort, especially where seasonal temperatures are extreme.
For some homeowners, it's important to soundproof inside the home. Installing insulation in the interior walls can reduce "sound transfer" but success is dependent on the insulation product being used. For those with a home theater or media room, insulating the interior walls could be the ideal option and a practical solution. Here, the benefits will outweigh the project cost.
Multi-Unit Party Walls
Where living units are divided by interior walls (multiplexes or apartments), the so-called "party walls" will require insulation. Soundproofing is definitely beneficial, but averting "heat transfer" is more of an issue for occupants. Probably most important is stopping the spread of fire between the units, and here, fire-rated insulation along with a professional install is recommended.
Fiberglass "batts" are a popular option for insulating existing walls, and are cost-effective. The installation, the fit, and the placement are critical for product performance. Another fiberglass option is "blown-in" insulation, which requires drilling holes into an existing wall, then patching and finishing. In general, a professional install will ensure the best long-term performance.
Retrofit Drill and Fill
Whatever the approach for insulating existing walls, the aims are common - stopping warm air from escaping in winter, and keeping cool air inside in summer. The objective is creating energy efficiency in the home and reducing energy consumption. "Drill-and-Fill" is an innovative approach for insulating existing walls (good for both interior and exterior walls). Essentially, holes are drilled into an existing wall and "loose fill" insulation is then blown into the wall cavity. The walls are then patched. Where exterior walls feel cold, the retrofit "Drill-and-Fill" option is ideal. The much-improved insulation will reduce heating and cooling costs overall, and will prevent pockets of uneven heat and cool. Finally, indoor comfort will be enhanced. "Drill-and-Fill" is particularly well suited for loose-fill insulation products. It's preferable to have a professional install where the product is blown into a wall with consistency and uniformity. The insulation doesn't disturb the structure of the wall. For exterior walls that are finished and hard to access, "Drill-and-Fill" is the ultimate insulation retrofit. R-Values are significantly upgraded, and the energy savings are substantial. Best of all, "Drill-and-Fill" averts the need for serious renovation.