Monthly Archives: March 2017

See Exactly Where Your Home Is Leaking Energy with a Thermoscan

Thermoscan of Kansas City homeIt’s no secret that sealing gaps and adding insulation is a great way to make your home more energy efficient. But the tricky part is knowing where to add that insulation and seal those gaps. Air is invisible, so you can’t see where it is sneaking out. Thanks to a cool new tool, the thermoscan, now you can!

We Can Help Pinpoint Problem Areas

All homeowners want their home to be energy efficient, but pinpointing the problem areas is critical before taking action. At A+ Insulation, we have a way to do just that – during our home energy assessment (also called a home energy audit), we use a thermoscan camera to show you exactly where warm air is escaping. A home energy assessment is the only way to tell how much energy your home uses and where the problem areas are that are causing your home to be less energy efficient. Most importantly, an assessment will give you a clear visual picture of what problems to fix first to save you the most money on energy bills.

Related Read: Free Home Energy Evaluation, Why Wouldn’t You Have This Done?

What Is a Thermoscan Camera?

Thermoscan infrared cameras are designed to pick up on heat signatures from objects. There are several names for these devices including infrared (or IR) cameras, thermal imaging devices, and thermographic scanners. They produce images called thermographs that translate heat into color so it is visible to the human eye. Our trained specialists can use one of these cameras to locate insulation voids, air leaks, moisture intrusion, thermal bypasses, and thermal bridges.

How Do Infrared Cameras Work?

Although many people think infrared cameras measure surface temperatures, they actually measure the radiant energy emitted by the surface it is aimed at. Conditions must be right to have an accurate readings from a thermoscan. These things can all affect the accuracy of a thermoscan:

  • Temperature-you need a minimum temperature difference of at least 18F° between the interior and the exterior of your home for several hours before the inspection begins. If the inside temperature is 70°F, the outside temperature should be below 52 degrees or above 88 degrees.
  • Sunlight-sunlight warms exterior walls and roofs, complicating thermographic readings. Ideally, you don’t want any sun shining on the building for at least three hours before the inspection begins. If the house has a brick or stone exterior, the sun-free interval should be at least eight hours long. Early mornings are a great time to perform a scan.
  • Moisture-Sunlight will warm moisture as well, making it appear on the thermoscan. When the sun shines on a roof, it heats up the roofing and the top of the insulation below. The insulation begins to cool after the sun sets. Damp insulation cools at a much slower rate than dry insulation, so wet spots will show up as warm spots where the roof is leaking when viewed at night through an infrared camera.
  • Wind-wind speed can affect scan results so wind speed should be 8 mph or less.

Call the Experts for Your Free Home Energy Assessment

Almost anyone can point an infrared camera at a building, adjust the knobs and get pretty colors to appear, but it takes a trained and experienced expert to tell the difference between thermal bridging, air leakage, and moisture. The energy experts at A+ Insulation can give you a free home energy assessment and let you know where your home is “leaking” energy.

Find out today by calling us at (913) 281-2250 or (816) 268-7511 or making an appointment for a free home energy assessment on our website.

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What You Need to Know about Building Codes When Selling Your Home

Home for Sale in Kansas CityBuilding codes are put in place for a good reason – to ensure that buildings meet the minimum requirements that building officials consider to be safe, healthy, and reasonable. Imagine if electrical codes were never updated! Homes would still have old knob and tube wiring which, not only would be a safety hazard, would never be enough to support the electrical load that today’s appliances and electronics demand. Code updates are necessary. The team at A+ Insulation wanted to provide a quick overview of what you need to know about insulation codes and updating your home when selling it.

When Must Homeowners Update to Meet New Code Requirements?

You’re not required to update your house as codes change unless you’re doing remodeling work, and then only the new part has to meet the new regulations. When you sell your home, the new buyers will have an inspection done (often from a local home inspector or home inspection company, like GeoInspections in Lee’ Summit, MO) and at that point they will let you know what passes inspection and what they would like you to update. Making sure it meets all city building codes is the seller’s responsibility. You always have the choice to say no, but most homeowners who want to sell will upgrade the things that are deal breakers for the new buyer in the interest of closing the deal.  

How to Decide Which Items to Update When Selling

Look at the cost of the updates, convenience of doing them, and return on the sale of the house. That will decide if you should do the updates. If it will improve the value by $10,000 and cost $1,500 to do them, you’ll probably want to do it. If the cost of the updates is $5,000 and the value added is $4,000 or even $6,000, then it may not be worth it and you can duke it out with the new buyers.

Insulation Industry Codes

The insulation industry has codes that change as time marches on as well. Many older Kansas City homes don’t live up to new codes that have been updated over the years. We see it all the time. Even homes built ten years ago may have less insulation that is now required. Some homes just never had enough insulation to start with. Add to that the fact that in older homes, insulation can settle making it less effective as well. Your home will sell faster when it meets all of the codes.

Is Your Home Out of Compliance?

The best way to find out if your home complies with current building codes is to have an inspection. The insulation experts at A+ Insulation know exactly what to look for. Not only do we inspect for the amount of insulation, but we also look at the type and the condition. For instance, in homes in Prairie Village, cedar chips were commonly used to insulate attics. Today, we know cedar chips are a fire hazard and not acceptable as insulation material. We also look for signs of animal presence. Raccoons, squirrels, and other wildlife can find their way into your warm attic and leave unpleasant surprises behind. We will check for all of this and more. The best part is, our inspection is free!

Why Fix It Now?

If you know you will be selling your home in the next year or two, it makes sense to fix it now, finance it for a year, and enjoy the comfort and lower energy bills until you move. If you wait to fix it, you’ll be paying for it all at once when you move and you won’t have had the advantage of lower utility bills for a year or more. We offer one-year free financing to qualified buyers.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home, give the home insulation experts at A+ Insulation a call for an insulation inspection at (913) 281-2250 or (816) 268-7511.

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Where Is Mold Hiding In Your Home?

Mold needs three things to grow – Moldy Fiberglass Insulation Picwarmth, a food source, and moisture. Because two of the three conditions necessary for mold growth: warmth (temperatures between 47-120 degrees Fahrenheit), and food (wood, paper, or any organic matter) already exist in our homes, mold can grow just about anywhere there is excessive moisture. Areas where leakage may have occurred in walls, roofs, or where there has been flooding should be carefully evaluated for mold. It is critical to keep moisture out of your home.

Three Sources of Moisture

These sources for moisture need to be understood, discovered, and controlled. They include:

  1. Ground water (including snow melt, rain)
  2. Humid air (which condenses on cooler surfaces)
  3. Interior moisture (from human bodies, cooking, bathrooms, unvented clothes dryers, etc.)

The primary concern when it comes to mold is ground water. Rain and snow melt from your roof can sneak inside your home and cause major problems.

Walls, Roofs & Attics Are the Most Common Places for Mold

Because rain is a constant visitor to any area, some of the most common places for moisture to get into our homes is the walls, roof, and attic. Spring rains can cause problematic roof leaks but animals can cause damage as well. Squirrels and raccoons can tear up roofs and vents to make a cozy home in your attic. It’s important to check your attic for signs of moisture on the ceiling and in your insulation. Outside, an inspection of the exterior walls and roof can help identify potential problems before they become major headaches.

Mold Warning Signs to Look For

Building experts urge homeowners to stay alert for signs of mold, including:

  • Dampness
  • Odors
  • Discoloration
  • Peeling paint
  • Condensation
  • Compacted insulation
  • Actual mold outbreaks

With today’s buildings being built more airtight for energy efficiency, mold is more prevalent than ever because these airtight homes don’t breathe as well as older structures. To make matters worse, more complex home designs have increased the potential for moisture intrusion.

Where Does Mold Come From?

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, allergies affect as many as 30% of adults & 40% of children. They also assert that asthma affects 8% of adults & 10% of children. The main culprits are dust, mold, and mildew. Mold spores are found in virtually every environment indoors and outdoors, These spores may enter homes and buildings through air infiltration such as windows, doors, heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, or by attaching themselves to people, clothing, and pets thus bringing mold spores indoors.

How Does Insulation Grow Mold?

Some types of insulation are more or less susceptible to mold growth than others. Fiberglass is a non-biodegradable material and is resistant to mold growth. Cellulose-based insulation, made of paper materials, is the ideal food source for mold if it becomes wet. Even fiberglass can have a paper backing that would serve as a buffet for mold.

If the building was poorly designed or constructed, if there was a plumbing leak, an extreme weather event causing flooding, or if there is a leak in roof, then insulation can become moldy. In many cases, building owners will assume that the product on which the mold is growing is the cause of the problem. However it’s important to remember insulation does not cause mold; the added moisture is the culprit.

How to Remove Moldy Insulation

If your insulation is already damp or mold-infested, the first step is to fix the leak that caused the problem. Then you can replace any damp insulation with new insulation. According to the National Center for Environmental Health, in most cases, mold can be removed by a thorough cleaning with bleach and water.

If you need help, give A+ Insulation a call and we’ll be glad to inspect your attic, fix the leak, and install new insulation. Call us at (913) 648-9290 or (816) 268-7511.

9 Signs Your Home Is Under-Insulated

When it comes to insulation, insulation problems kansas citychances are your home may not have enough. Unless you’ve added extra insulation when building your home, or added insulation to the home you bought or renovated, there’s a 9 in 10 chance that it doesn’t have enough. NAIMA (North American Insulation Manufacturers Association) reports that 90% of homes in the U.S. are under insulated.

Why is this? Think about the housing industry. Home builders install the minimum amount of insulation required by code. Why would they install more? The more they install, the more money each house costs to build. We know, from being in the insulation industry for years, that the amount required by code is not enough to keep your home comfortable and save you money on energy bills.

Related Read: Insulating Your Home – Where Do You Get the Best ROI?

Look for These 9 Signs That Your Home Is Under-Insulated

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 42% of a homeowner’s utility bill is spent on heating and cooling costs. That number goes up drastically when a home is poorly insulated. Without proper insulation the heated or cooled air, your heating and cooling system is working so hard to produce, escapes through the walls and attic. Proper insulation can cut those costs by an average of 20%! If your home lacks the proper amount of insulation, or if your insulation is installed incorrectly, you can do severe damage to both your home and your bank account. Here are nine ways you can tell if your home is under-insulated:

  • Fluctuating Temperatures
    One sign of good insulation is having even temperatures throughout your home. If different rooms have different temperatures – say, you freeze in the kitchen but feel too warm in your living room – that’s a clear sign your house is under-insulated.
  • High Energy Bills
    Look at your home’s energy bills in the last few years to determine if there are huge increases. The blown-in insulation in the attics and walls may have settled, making the insulation less effective and possibly leading to areas that are not protected from cold temperatures. You may not notice extreme temperature shifts in your home if your heating or cooling units are working overtime, but you will notice your extreme energy bill. If wasted heat is escaping through your roof and walls, it’s time to replace your insulation.
  • Cold Walls, Floors and Ceilings
    Do the touch test. The interior ceilings, walls and floors in your home should feel warm and dry. When drywall and paneling inside a home feels damp or cold, there is not enough insulation. Alternatively, when touching an exterior wall, it should feel cold because insulation is keeping warm air inside a home.
  • Cold Rooms
    Do you find that some rooms in your home are inexplicably colder or hotter than others no matter what you do? If those rooms are well ventilated, then the problem is probably poor insulation. These rooms are often above the garage or below the attic. That’s why it’s important to make sure all areas of your home are properly insulated. Heat and cool air can escape almost anywhere that doesn’t have insulation to stop its path.
  • Chilly Drafts
    During the winter months, drafts in certain areas of a home are caused by cool air entering around window frames and doorways. By having extra insulation added to these areas, you and your family can avoid having to cope with chilly drafts. Adding insulation will not only make your home feel less drafty, it will also save you on energy bills. Spray foam insulation seals and insulates and is good for cracks and crevices.
  • Mice & Bugs in Your Home
    There is nothing worse than finding insects and rodents in your home! Critters can enter through tiny crevices and holes around doorways and windows. Unfortunately, these openings are also how cold air enters and warm air escapes. By adding insulation you can save on energy bills while protecting your home from vermin invasions.
  • Water Leaks in the Attic
    Just as poor insulation lets the heat out of your home, it also tends to let water in. Water has a much easier time finding its way into a poorly-insulated home than a well-insulated one. If you’re experiencing a leaky attic, your insulation may be part of the problem. Leaks are a sign that you should get your insulation replaced as soon as possible! Water damage can cause many costly problems down the road, including mold issues, so give leaks prompt attention. At A+ Insulation, we can handle all kinds of attic insulation problems.
  • Ice Dams on Your Roof
    A sign of poor insulation that you may notice during a Kansas City winter, aside from soaring heating bills, are ice dams. Ice dams occur when heat (rising from your poorly-insulated home) melts the bottom layer of snow off of your roof. The melted water then trickles down towards your gutters and may begin to freeze once it hits the cooler air. The result is large chunks of ice and oversized icicles, called ice damming. It can wreak havoc on your roof and your gutter, not to mention it can turn into a safety hazard for those below.
  • Frozen Pipes
    Frozen pipes in your walls are also huge indicators that you have an insulation problem. Proper insulation protects your home from damage caused by Kansas City’s freezing temperatures. Poorly insulated exterior walls can cause frozen pipes, which can burst. This can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. Investing in crawl space insulation can also make a huge difference to your pipes as well.

More Important Energy Facts

Where does all the warm air go?

  • Roughly 25% of a home’s heat seeps out through the attic and roof.
  • A home can lose 35% of its heat through the walls.
  • Windows are a source of 25% of a home’s heat loss.
  • Remember, any gaps in insulation will allow heat to escape.

Insulation has a three times greater impact on the average home’s energy and comfort than windows or doors.

An energy audit will pinpoint the areas that are wasting the most energy

  • Get a free energy audit with A+ Insulation.

Contact us today to schedule your FREE energy audit!

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