Understanding Insulation Terminology Before Ordering Insulation
April 15, 2016
Understanding residential insulation is the key to making good purchasing decisions. And when a homeowner understands insulation terminology, it's an advantage when shopping for products or discussing options. Moreover, a good understanding of how insulation works will make for a very productive working relationship with an installer who's actually doing the work. And while its not at all necessary to get into technical jargon, it's good to have a fundamental understanding.
Ductwork is typically hidden throughout a home and made of sheet metal. Air ducts carry heated or cooled air to most areas of the home. As well, returned air moves through the ducts to ensure proper indoor circulation.
This is the amount of air that leaks into and out of a building structure. Air infiltration occurs mainly through windows and doors that are poorly sealed, as well as holes, gaps, cracks and crevices in the building.
Attic insulation comprises products like fiberglass, cellulose, and spray foam that are industry approved for that use. These types of insulation products are installed into the attic cavity to as thermal resistance.
Insulation "batts" are semi-rigid units of insulation material that are typically manufactured from fiberglass. Often associated with those fluffy pink "batts", this product is available with or without a vapor barrier.
Blown insulation, also known as loose-fill, is used to insulate attics and walls where a consistent and uniform blanket of insulation is required for thermal insulation (mostly available in cellulose or fiberglass).
Building codes are designed to ensure quality, health and safety. Codes vary according to the type of construction, the materials being installed, and the building occupancy. Insulation work should be to code.
These are spaces not readily visible in a finished part of a home. This may include duct shafts, ceiling spaces, and even crawl spaces. Insulating these areas can be vital for optimum thermal protection.
A conditioned space is an area that is supplied with conditioned air - in other words, air that has been heated or cooled (and sometimes humidified). Conditioned air is usually controlled through the HVAC.
Energy codes (government defined) outline minimum insulation requirements relative to energy efficiency. The aim is to establish a direct correlation between the cost of energy and reasonable paybacks.
Home Energy Audit
This is professional assessment performed by a specialist who identifies the quality of a home's energy efficiency. Importantly, a home energy audit will recommend improvements to enhance efficiencies.
R-Value is the measurement of resistance to heat flow. Insulation is designed to resist heat flow. Simply put, the higher the R-Value of the insulation, the better the insulation's ability to resist the heat flow.
Spray Foam Insulation
Also known as Spray Polyurethane Foam, this product expands and hardens into an insulating envelope that creates an airtight, watertight seal throughout. The application ensures very high R-Values.
Fresh Air Ventilation
Ventilation essentially supplies fresh air and removes foul air. Proper ventilation creates positive airflow, which in turn allows a home to "breathe". Ventilation will also help to prevent moisture build-up.