Category Archives: Residential

Preparing for the First Freeze: Practical Tips to Do at Home

Fall is officially here. With the temperature dropping, this is the perfect time to prepare your home for winter. Even if you live in an area that barely gets snow, it’s important to weatherize your home. The winter cold can cause all sorts of damage to your house, and your energy bills are likely to double if you’re not prepared.

Get your winterizing done before the temperature drops any lower. It’s not fun to do these chores when it’s already freezing outside. This checklist will help you winterize your house to make sure you’ve got everything covered before the cold sets in.

Insulation

Proper insulation is an essential element of weatherization that can improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Serious insulation upgrades are reserved for the warmer months since your house needs to be carefully evaluated for heat resistance first. Some insulation contractors offer energy evaluations to determine areas in your home that aren’t adequately insulated.

In the meantime, these are some things you can do to make sure that your insulation is ready for winter:

man putting insulation in the ceiling

Check Your Attic Insulation

The attic is one of the biggest sources of energy loss in homes due to the phenomenon called the “stack effect.” Warm air tends to rise, and it can leak through your roof if your attic isn’t insulated well. The stack effect forces your heating system to work twice as hard to keep your house at your preferred indoor temperature.

Make sure your attic is solidly insulated, leaving no room for air leaks. Loose-fill insulation is the best insulation for attics. The material conforms to any space and shape without disturbing the finishes of the walls and ceilings.

Insulate Your Water Heater

The Department of Energy (DOE) recommends insulating older water heaters with insulating blankets. It can cut your standby heat losses by 25 to 45 percent, saving you 7 to 16 percent on your annual water heating costs.

For electric water heaters, you can also put an insulation board underneath the tank. It helps prevent heat loss into the floor, saving you four to nine percent of water heating energy.

Most new hot water tanks are already insulated, so you can skip this step if you’ve recently upgraded your heater.

Seal Unused Fireplaces

Wood-burning fireplaces and chimneys can be major sources of air leaks and drafts during the winter. Even if the damper is closed, the flue can still let cold air into the house. So, it’s better to seal it instead to block the air leaks.

You can purchase a chimney balloon or chimney pillow to seal your fireplace. Another option is to cut out a piece of insulating foam board seal and place it just under the damper. To ensure that the board cut-out is snug, you first want to measure each side of the opening and draw the cardboard pattern.

Remember to remove the seal before using the fireplace to prevent accidents.

Heating System

Other than your insulation, your heating system is another critical element in winterizing your home. Check your furnace and other heating appliances no later than the end of October to give you ample time to inspect and address any problems. Give your heating system a test run to make sure everything’s operating as it should.

  • Schedule seasonal maintenance Have your heating system checked and serviced by a heating contractor to keep it in tip-top shape all year. They’ll let you know if any component needs a replacement or repairs. This is also an excellent time to inspect your air ducts and ensure that they’re not clogged.
  • Replace the air filter It’s good practice changing your air filter every season, especially if you’re using the 1- to 2-inch kind. A new, clean filter will ensure the flow of quality indoor air inside your house. Each furnace has different requirements for filters, so make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Test your furnace and thermostat Test the thermostat by turning it to heat mode and setting it to 80 degrees. The furnace should turn on within a few minutes and you should feel warm air beginning to blow. If the furnace takes too long to run or there’s any other problem, you can try to diagnose it yourself. You may also call a qualified service technician to be sure.
  • Check for carbon monoxide leaks Most furnaces are gas-burning and produce carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide leaks are typically a result of leakages in the furnace’s exhaust system or other fuel-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide is dangerous when inhaled, causing damage to vital organs like the heart and lungs. Luckily, you can easily detect leaks using a battery-operated alarm or detector badge.

Water Pipes

Plumbing is susceptible to freezing or bursting because metal pipes are good thermal conductors. Frozen pipes interfere with the water flow, making it difficult to do everyday tasks. In addition, pipes that burst due to freezing can lead to expensive repairs. Prevent these problems by insulating your plumbing.

  • Insulate exposed pipes Inspect your home for any exposed water or drainpipes, especially those in uninsulated places. Don’t forget to check your attic, crawlspace, basement, and outside walls. Wrap the exposed pipes with electrical heating tape followed by foam insulating sleeves.
  • Insulate exterior faucets Shut off the water supply for your exterior faucets, then drain the water from them. Otherwise, the water that remains inside the pipes can freeze and burst. Disconnect your garden hoses from the taps and drain them as well before storing them properly. You may also put an insulated cover on the faucet for added frost protection.

If you’re going away for the winter, remember to drain your home’s plumbing system and shut off the water supply. Otherwise, a leak could happen while you’re away. You wouldn’t be able to address it immediately, and the damage can be disastrous.

water pipes

Roof and Gutters

The roof and gutter system are also essential areas when winterizing your house. Any neglected damage on the roof can cause water or air leaks. Clogged gutters can increase the chances of forming ice dams, which are a damaging winter roofing problem.

  • Inspect the roof for damaged or missing shingles and have them replaced.
  • Check the chimney flashing for damage since it’s a common source of leaks. If the caulking has seen better days, that means it’s time to renew the flashing seals.
  • Clean out your gutters and downspouts. Wet leaves and debris can increase the chances of ice dams. They also add a lot of weight to the gutters, which increases the risk of damage.
  • Consider replacing your gutters if they’re old. Go for seamless gutters. These are less likely to leak than traditional sectional gutters.

If you have a flat roof surfaced with asphalt and pebbles, blow off all the leaves and debris that can hold moisture. However, don’t sweep away the pebbles. They shield the asphalt from direct sunlight.

Doors and Windows

The caulking around doors and windows wears out over time. It creates gaps and holes that let drafts into the house, decreasing your heating system’s efficiency. A simple remedy is weatherstripping, which seals the gaps around doors and windows. The DOE says that sealing air leaks can save you at least 20 percent on heating and cooling expenses.

  • Inspect the outside molding on doors and windows for missing or damaged caulking. Use exterior-grade caulk to seal any gaps you find.
  • Check the weatherstripping around the doors, especially on the bottom. Replace if necessary.
  • Do the incense stick method to check for air leaks. On a windy day, hover a lighted incense stick near the sides of your closed windows and doors. If the smoke trail moves, it means you have an air leak. Use rope caulking to reseal the gaps.
  • Inspect the locking mechanisms on your windows. Make sure they move smoothly. Otherwise, they may be difficult to operate once the cold sets in.
  • Clean the window tracks to ensure that the windows slide smoothly.
  • Re-glaze older windows with cracked or missing glazing putty.

Landscape, Garden, and Outdoor Amenities

Your yard also needs to be prepped for winter, especially if you’re maintaining a flower bed or vegetable garden. Follow these standard lawn winterizing procedures to make sure your yard is ready to grow again come spring.

  • Harvest your final batch of fruits and vegetables. Remove all old plant matter to prevent plant diseases in the next growing season.
  • Plant a cover crop for large garden beds to protect the topsoil from the cold temperature. If you have small beds, applying mulch would be enough.
  • Stop watering your trees and shrubs in the early fall to winterize them. It causes them to prepare for fall and stops the growth of new leaves that won’t be hardy enough to survive winter. Once the leaves dropped and before the ground freezes, water your trees and shrubs deeply to give them one last soak before the temperature drops.
  • Winterize your sprinkler system by shutting off the water and draining the pipes. You can do this yourself or have a lawn service handle it.
  • Reseal your wooden deck to make it more resistant to winter damage.
  • Drain the gas from your lawn mower before storing it in a safe, dry area.
  • Cover or store your patio furniture.

This long list of chores may seem like too much work, but they’re worth doing if it means protecting your house from winter damage. Take the time to winterize your home to ensure that everything is in working order when spring comes again.

Home Insulation for Winter

A+ Insulation is a trusted insulation expert in Kansas City. We use premium tools and materials when examining your home’s insulating capacity to develop the best solutions to make it more energy-efficient. We offer a range of insulation solutions for your entire house to protect every room from heat and energy loss.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation home energy assessment.

Reasons to Add Spray Foam Insulation in Your Kitchen

When people speak of fixing up kitchens, they usually mean doing work on the cabinetry, changing the wallpaper or wall paint, updating the counters, adding an island, and so forth. Few associate insulation with kitchens, which is ironic because insulating a kitchen can be highly beneficial for residents.

Why Kitchens Need Insulation

Let’s review the common areas in a house that needs insulation:

  • Attic roof, walls, and floor
  • Behind knee walls
  • Ceilings with unheated spaces
  • Floors with vented crawlspaces beneath
  • Gaps between interior walls

These are the specific spots that make up a house’s thermal envelope which is essentially the shield that separates the indoor living spaces from the outdoors. For a house to stay cool in summer and warm in winter, the thermal envelope must be sealed completely without a hint of a draft.

Kitchens situated at the heart of a house technically don’t need insulation. Still, there could be exceptions, depending on the design of the rest of the house (i.e., the kitchen is right next to the sleeping quarters or above the basement). If the kitchen has one or more external walls, however, proper insulation is a must.

Apart from when it is part of a house’s thermal envelope, a kitchen needs insulation because it helps fortify this specific area of the house and addresses the following needs:

  1. Soundproofing
  2. Mold and bacteria prevention
  3. Pest prevention
  4. Thorough thermal sealing
  5. Structural support

Our Recommendation

At A+ Insulation, we recommend a specific type of insulating material for kitchens: closed-cell, polyurethane spray foam. This is the most commonly-used spray foam insulation in Kansas City and everywhere else. It has a high R-value, which is the metric for measuring heat flow resistance and insulation. When used on strategic areas of a house, closed-cell spray foam can raise the indoor comfort level, from temperature to acoustics, to greater heights.

We’re confident about this recommendation because, as an established insulation company in Kansas City, ; we’ve seen first-hand how well this insulation settles and cures inside walls, ceilings, and crawlspaces. The extra rigidity also helps reinforce the structural integrity of a closed-cell, foam-insulated house.

Closed-cell foam insulation also possesses other qualities that make it the perfect choice for insulating kitchens. Let’s take a closer look at how this type of polyurethane insulation addresses the needs listed above.

Soundproofing

spray foam insulation

The kitchen is hardly the noisiest part of the house (that honor is usually awarded to the rooms where there are entertainment consoles), but once the pots and pans get busy, the racket could disturb the rest of the household. This is especially true when bedrooms are located inconveniently next to or near the kitchen.

Spray foam insulation will do an excellent job of soundproofing a kitchen. While open-cell spray foam is the one that’s more often used to soundproof theater rooms because it absorbs sound better, closed-cell spray foam can give a more or less similar soundproofing output. Closed-cell foam is more impermeable after curing, so it becomes a good sound isolator.

Why can’t you use open-cell spray foam, then, if it is the superior acoustic absorber? You actually can; however, there are other factors that we need to consider besides soundproofing. When those enter the picture, you’ll understand why closed-cell spray foam insulation is the better option for your kitchen. The next section is a perfect example of these factors that you may want to prioritize over acoustics.

Waterproofing with Mold and Bacterial Prevention

Next to the bathroom, the kitchen is the one room in the house constantly exposed to moisture in the air and on the floor. The steam that comes from all the daily cooking, plus the condensation that takes place when the weather turns cold, can seep through the wooden walls and keep them moist for long periods. The moisture retention can also get worse if the kitchen is poorly insulated, to begin with.

Spray foam insulation offers a layer of protection against moisture intrusion. It’s a helpful feature to maintain in rooms with high humidity, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

Where there’s perpetual moisture at home, mold and bacteria can thrive. This is the key concern (along with the premature onset of structural decay) that spray foam insulation addresses in kitchens. By putting a protective layer against moisture inside the wall cavities and stabilizing a room’s temperature, homeowners can prevent mold and bacteria from growing indoors and putting the residents’ health at risk.

Pest Prevention

As briefly mentioned above, closed-cell spray foam turns rigid when it cures. Assuming that it was installed superbly by an experienced company, the rigid, thermal envelope the insulation forms can help keep pests from getting inside and invading the house.

Additionally, building codes state that foam insulation in residential and commercial structures must be supplemented with an ignition barrier. Like most organic house construction materials, spray foam is combustible when exposed directly to flames. To reduce fire hazards in a foam-insulated home, Energy Vanguard recommends that builders must insert ignition barriers like:

  • Drywall
  • Hardboard
  • Mineral fiber insulation
  • Particleboard
  • Steel
  • Wood

These barriers add layers of protection against burrowing pests like rodents and beetles. Of course, wood and insulation are not entirely impenetrable. If given a point of entry, termites, carpenter ants, even squirrels can chew through spray foam insulation and nest within the walls. It’s, therefore, crucial to have a seamless installation that seals off the entire thermal envelope.

Thorough Thermal Sealing

Now that we’re on the subject of thermal envelopes, let’s discuss the insulation quality of closed-cell spray foam insulation. It is denser than open-cell foam, which means it takes skills and experience to ensure that it gets into every nook and cranny of the thermal envelope. This is a concern for your insulation contractor, though. If you hire a competent team like A+ Insulation, proper installation of closed-cell spray foam won’t ever become an issue.

It’s crucial to air-seal the building envelope because you want to keep warm air locked in during winter and kept out during summer. Air leaks through the envelope make your heater or air conditioning work extra hard and consume more electricity, thereby wasting energy and increasing your utility costs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), effective air sealing and insulation can save a household up to 15% on cooling and heating costs (with an average of 11% total cost savings for energy expenses).

A well-sealed and insulated building envelope also regulates the indoor temperature of a home, improves humidity control, reduces noise pollution and air pollution, prevents insect and pest infiltration — all of which contribute to making a home more comfortable and safe to live in.

Structural support

modern kitchen

Closed-cell spray foam insulation has a very high density compared to open-cell foam. It has something to do with the structure that forms after it cures: open-cell foam is like a sponge, while closed-cell foam is like Styrofoam. The usual narrative is that closed-cell foam adds to a house’s structural integrity because of its rigidity. While this may certainly be a factor that benefits a building, spray foam shouldn’t be used as a remedy for a weak structure. Nor should it be an alternative for proper wall and roofing reinforcements like masonry, wall anchors, and steel bar reinforcements.

When the polyurethane cures, the closed-cell foam insulation becomes a rigid, foam plastic that is highly adhesive. It bonds tightly to the adjacent substrates and holds them together (e.g., drywall). It is so adhesive that it can keep roofs intact and attached to a house despite high winds threatening to rip them off. In a Factory Mutual wind uplift pull test cited by America’s Plastic Makers, roofing insulated with spray foam resisted up to 990 psf (47.4 kPa) of wind pressure with a tensile strength of 25 psi (172.4 kPa).

Essentially, the spray foam held the structure together. This is likely the more accurate depiction of how closed-cell foam insulation contributes to a house’s structural integrity.

Other Locations in the Kitchen to Focus When Insulating

To fully enjoy the benefits of spray foam insulation, the thermal envelope has to be filled, and air-sealing must be guaranteed. Unfortunately, even open-cell spray foam, which is known for its expanding quality, can’t always get into the tiniest of spaces. Besides, other areas need insulation, too, in addition to the walls and ceilings.

Below are the other spots in a kitchen that may need follow-up insulation and air-sealing:

  • Crevices behind the window and door trims
  • Floor areas with a crawlspace or basement below
  • Wiring holes on external walls
  • Basement rim joists
  • Open soffits that are adjacent to the kitchen
  • Plumbing and HVAC vents

Choose the Company that Installs Top-Notch Spray Foam Insulation in Kansas City

The kitchen is arguably the most dynamic room in your house. Everyone will no doubt enjoy any improvement in this room. You can start by insulating your kitchen properly and thoroughly.

You can trust A+ Insulation for this job. We’ve been in business since 2004, offering the best experience possible to our customers in Kansas and Missouri.

We offer a FREE, no-obligation inspection and estimate. Contact us to learn more about our spray foam insulation products and services.

Your Guide to an Energy-Efficient Home Amid a Pandemic

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many people in the US to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel as much as possible. With millions of Americans remaining inside their homes, residential energy usage has soared.

An analysis of home electricity trends across the country since COVID-19 revealed that the average residential energy consumption shot up 22 percent compared to the previous year. This rise meant that most households in the country have to pay 22 percent more on their April 2020 utility bill than the preceding year.

If you have experienced a surge in your monthly electric bill, take measures to reduce unnecessary energy consumption and help keep your utility expenses in check.

As experienced insulation contractors in Kansas City, A+ Insulation knows what will help boost your home’s energy efficiency during these times of uncertainty:

  1. Seal Leaks in Your Home

Leaks in your house can drive up your energy bills, as they allow cool air to escape during the summer and warm air to exit during the winter. Your heaters and air conditioners will have to work hard to effectively regulate the indoor temperature inside your house.

If you notice drafts in your home, have them sealed quickly to prevent cooled or heated air from escaping. We install various types of insulation to fill cracks and gaps that allow air to exit.

  1. Minimize Your Water Heater Usage

Water heating can account for a large portion of your household electricity usage. With everyone staying at home, your water heater usage may rise significantly. You may use this appliance to make hot beverages, cook delicious meals, and do the laundry.

If you find that everyone in your home is using the water heater frequently, think of ways to use this appliance less often. A few examples to get you started are:

  • Don’t wash your clothes using hot water. Use lukewarm or cold water when doing your laundry.
  • Switch to cold or room temperature drinks instead of preparing hot beverages all the time.
  • Take a shower without using the heater.
  1. Use Space Heaters Sparingly

Although gas and electric space heaters keep your feet toasty and warm during cold days, they’re not an energy-efficient way to heat your house. Some space heaters use over a thousand watts — a figure that can make your electricity bill skyrocket.

If you need to use this appliance for your home, turn it on only during cold days. Alternatively, consider investing in affordable blankets or wearing layers of clothes to stay warm during the cold season.

  1. Use Fans Instead of Air Conditioning Systems

electric fanDuring summer, you and your family may be tempted to crank up the AC unit to stay cool and comfortable. This, however, can make your utility bills skyrocket.

Stay comfortable without racking up your energy costs, invest in electric fans and use them more frequently than AC systems. You can easily find affordable and portable fans on the web or in various home improvement stores in the country.

Alternatively, you could put your ceiling fan to use if you have one installed in your home. Switching this appliance on can keep you cool without hurting your wallet.

  1. Follow Good Thermostat Habits

Save about 10 percent every year on your heating and cooling with a simple adjustment: turn your thermostat back 7°-10°F from the normal setting for eight hours a day.

In summer, set the device to a warmer mode when you aren’t home and set it to cooler mode when you’re in. In winter, crank up the thermostat when you’re awake and set it lower when you’re asleep or out of the house.

Never set the device to a colder setting than normal because it’s a wasteful way to cool room. It will not cool the home faster when you turn on the AC.

  1. Invest in a Smart Thermostat

If you’re tired of setting your thermostat manually every single time, get a smart thermostat for your home. This technology monitors your home’s cooling and heating behaviors. From the data it has gathered, the thermostat adjusts to the ideal temperature settings automatically, keeping you comfortable.

  1. Do Away with Incandescent Light Bulbs

Still using incandescent lighting? Replace them with better alternatives, such as light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, halogen light fixtures, and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these energy-efficient lighting options use 25 to 80 percent less energy compared to conventional incandescent bulbs.

They also last up to 25 times longer.

  1. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Household Appliances

Washing machines, ovens, and TVs are large appliances that require substantial electricity. If you can’t remember the last time you purchased them, consider replacing them with energy-efficient models.

When browsing for home appliances, determine if the product you want has earned an ENERGY STAR label. An appliance with this symbol means that the device uses less energy than similar products. It also means that the appliance has undergone stringent energy efficiency criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since ENERGY STAR appliances consume less energy, you can enjoy energy savings. You also help protect the environment by lowering your carbon footprint.

  1. Tune up Your HVAC Systems

ventilationEven if your heaters and air conditioning units bear the energy efficiency label on them, they still require periodic tune up to operate at optimal efficiency. Talk to your HVAC contractor and have them perform a checkup and maintenance on your appliances. They will clean the coils, lubricate the components, and tighten connections to make sure that they run at peak condition.

  1. Pull the Plug When Your Appliances are Not in Use

Simply hitting the “off” button in your appliances won’t do. You have to pull the plug on these devices, especially if you won’t use them frequently. Appliances, such as TVs and computers, consume tiny amounts of electricity when they are on standby mode. If they’re plugged in all the time, those few watts of energy consumption can add up and contribute to a high utility bill.

If you find unplugging the devices in your home a hassle, use power strips. With a single switch, you can turn off multiple appliances and make sure that they’re not running on standby energy.

  1. Make the Switch from Desktop to Laptop

According to Computer Hope, you should have your computer replaced at least every four years. If your desktop device is due for replacement, get a laptop to satisfy your computing needs.

Why laptops? Laptop computers are more energy-efficient. They use up to 80 percent less energy. They also draw less electricity than desktops. Laptop computers may reach a maximum of 60 watts. Common desktop devices, on the other hand, may peak at approximately 175 watts.

  1. Use “Outdoor Energy” During Summer

Rather than use appliances in your home for everyday tasks, take advantage of “outdoor energy” to get the job done.

Here are a few ideas:

  • When cooking food for the entire family, ditch the electric stove or oven for a couple of days and use the barbecue grill to whip up delicious meals in your backyard.
  • During the day, switch off all the house lights and open the blinds, curtains, or drapes. Use direct sunlight to illuminate your living areas.
  • Hang up your clothes in your backyard and let the wind do the drying.
  1. Install Storm Doors

A storm door goes beyond giving your house an additional layer of protection during inclement weather. It also makes your home more energy-efficient. These doors usually come with a protective coating or low-emissivity glass that helps minimize energy loss. Also, these entryways last for decades, making them a worthwhile investment.

  1. Install Solar Panels

When you have some cash to spare, install solar panels on your rooftop. They’re becoming a popular way to produce electricity for homes. A report from Pew Research Center found that more homeowners in the country are thinking of going solar.

Solar panel installation comes with many benefits. On top of helping you save money on utility bills in the long run, your household can cut down your carbon footprint. You may even qualify for yearly tax incentives.

  1. Conduct an Energy Audit of Your Home

An energy evaluation or audit is the process of determining the amount of energy your home uses. You can schedule an energy assessment by hiring a professional energy auditor. ;; At the end of the evaluation, your auditor will identify areas in your house that need improvement. At the same time, they will provide energy-saving opportunities to help you reduce your household bill.

We Help You Lower Energy Bills

Turn to A+ Insulation when you need energy evaluation and home insulation. We’ve helped more than 10,000 customers save money and become more energy-efficient.

When we install insulation in your home, we help you choose the right material for your property. Our trained and certified technicians also carry out efficient work. Expect us to complete your residential insulation project on time, on schedule, and on budget.

Whether you need an energy evaluation or new insulation for your house, we live up to our name and deliver A+ service to all our clients.

Schedule an appointment with A+ Insulation today and have one of our team members conduct a free, no-obligation assessment.

Cool for the Summer: 5 Practical Ways to Reduce Energy Costs

Summer is only a few weeks away, and you know what that means. Sweltering days force you to use your air conditioning system more often, which increases your electricity bills. Luckily, there are many ways to lower your energy consumption while staying cool during the dry season.

Cost-saving cooling solutions range from simple daily routine adjustments to useful home improvements, so you can find one that suits your budget and lifestyle. Follow the tips below to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature without skyrocketing your utility bills.

1. Update Your Insulation

Insulation plays a critical role in minimizing your energy consumption during the summer. It prevents heat from entering your home, keeping the temperature inside at your preferred level.

The thermal resistance or R-value of your insulation depends on the orientation and location of your home. Calculating the R-value necessary for your house is more complicated in places that experience harsh winters and summers. If you live in Armourdale, for example, it’s best to hire insulation contractors in Kansas City because they’re familiar with the R-values necessary for the weather in your hometown.

You want to pay special attention to the insulation in your attic. During summer, the air inside your home is cooler than the outdoors. The temperature difference draws hot air from the outside through the leaks and cracks in your house. This phenomenon is called the “reversed stack effect,” which makes the upper floors of your home uncomfortably hot.

Air-conditioning units cool hot air, causing it to sink to the lower floors. This restarts the air cycle throughout your house, which can add to your cooling costs.

You can prevent the consequences of the reverse stack effect by insulating your attic. Attic insulation comes in different types: blanket, loose-fill, and spray foam.

Spray foam offers the most impenetrable protection among the three, sealing the gaps in your attic that may let in warm external air. On the other hand, loose-fill insulation is more appropriate for attics with plenty of obstructions. The material can easily be packed into tight places, insulating every nook and cranny.

Be careful of over-insulation, however. This occurs when the spaces meant for ventilation, such as the hollow between rafters, are covered by the insulating material. Over-insulation can result in an uncomfortably hot attic temperature, poor indoor air quality, and mold growth.

living room

2. Make Sure Your Home is Airtight

Get the most out of your insulation by air-sealing your home. During the warm season, humid air can enter your house through cracks and gaps on your walls, attic, basement, and ductwork. Humid air makes your home feel hotter, causing the indoor air to feel uncomfortably heavy.

Blocking those air leaks helps you achieve maximum energy efficiency. You can cut 15% off your cooling costs by air-sealing your home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The easiest way to detect all the air leaks in your house is to get a home energy audit from a certified auditor. Some home insulation companies provide energy evaluations as well. The report provides the most accurate measurement of air leakage in your home as well as other problem areas.

It’s best to get a home energy audit several weeks before summer to give you time to address the issues in your home and make it more energy efficient.

3. Utilize Fans and Ventilation

Ventilation goes hand-in-hand with insulation to prevent heat and moisture buildup in your home, maintaining the air quality. A ventilation system is composed of a network of air ducts that deliver cold and hot air to the different parts of your house. Insulate your ducts to prevent heat loss and keep the system running efficiently.

You can also leverage natural ventilation to reduce your reliance on your air-conditioning unit. Heat naturally accumulates in your house during the day. You can flush the hot air out by using your windows and doors for cross-ventilation.

Open your doors and windows to let in cold air. You’ll cool more of your home if the air takes a longer path from the entry point to the exit, so try to choose doors and windows that are directly opposite each other. Use small windows for the inlet and bigger doors for the outlet to increase the speed of the airflow.

Keep in mind that cross-ventilation only works in climates with cool summers, cool nights, or regular breezes. Experiment with different patterns of window venting to find the best way to move fresh outside air into your home. Don’t forget to note the wind direction.

You can also use your fans to support your air-conditioning unit. A ceiling fan lets you raise your thermostat setting about 4°F while maintain the same level of comfort. Window fans can increase your cooling efficiency, too. Close the window near the fan and open the ones on the opposite side of the room to promote air circulation.

4. Use Window Coverings

Windows absorb more heat during summer than any other surface in your home because they’re made of glass. So it’s better to keep them shaded if you’re not using your windows for ventilation.

Window treatments, such as shades, blinds, and curtains, can help you cut energy costs by reducing your solar heat gain. Choose light-colored treatments. They’re more reflective, bouncing the rays of the sun away from your house to block heat from outside.

aircon

5. Adjust Your Day-To-Day Activities

Finally, a simple adjustment to your daily routine can help you keep cool this season. The small habit of turning off lights and appliances that aren’t in use can give you some significant savings. You can also do household chores manually to lessen your usage of energy-intensive appliances. For example, you can dry your clothes by hanging them instead of spinning them in the dryer or wash your dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.

When bathing during daytime, use the bathroom exhaust fan to prevent humidity and heat buildup. By simple avoidance, you get to keep your air-conditioning unit from working overtime, helping you save money on electricity.

Know more about how you can maximize your home’s energy efficiency. Get an energy evaluation to see your usage patterns, determine the parts of your house that guzzle energy, and to receive solutions on how to reduce your electricity spending.

A+ Service from A+ Insulation

A+ Insulation is a trusted insulation expert in Kansas City. Using quality materials and tools, our team will examine your house thoroughly to come up with the best way to make it energy efficient. We offer a range of insulation treatments for different parts of your home, making sure that it’s properly protected from excessive heat gain.

Schedule an appointment today and have one of our consultants do a free, no-obligation home energy assessment.

The Challenges in Building a Stylish Attic Bathroom

An attic provides fantastic opportunities for home expansion. In fact, a growing number of homeowners are converting unused loft space into beautiful bathrooms.

While an attic is certainly is not the easiest area to design and renovate due to its unique shape and location, a well-built attic bathroom will pay off in the end. Apart from bringing in additional living space, a loft bathroom adds instant appeal and value to your home.

We’re not going to lie; there are several challenges to remodeling an attic. To give you a realistic idea, our team of attic insulation contractors have compiled below the common challenges homeowners face when building an attic bathroom.

Location

Deciding on your bathroom placement can be particularly challenging if you have a unique roof that slopes down on two, three, or even all four sides.

Attic bathrooms are commonly built closer to the center of the house, since this is also where the ceiling is at its highest. Although doing so would make the remaining attic space less accessible.

On the other hand, bathrooms situated on the edges of your attic can have windows. The only downside to this option is the possibility of the roof slanting all the way down to the floor.

Technical and internal fixtures including electrical systems, plumbing systems, water supply lines, drainage lines, sewer line, and vent stack are also important factors to consider when positioning your bathroom.

Ideally, an attic bathroom should be built above an existing bathroom or your kitchen to reduce the distance between the existing plumbing lines and the new installations. This could cut down costs and minimize required wall damage. Additional drain and supply lines should also run all the way to the crawl space or basement to ensure sewer gases are completely expelled.

bath tub

Securing permission

One of the first steps to building your bathroom is to secure the right permits. Attic remodels of any type must follow local building codes to ensure compliance with safety standards. Similarly, any type of bathroom work also entails code restrictions and permit applications.

It may seem like a hassle at first but meeting these requirements will save you time, money, and trouble in the long run. Building codes vary for every place so it’s best to clarify all the details first with your local permitting office before proceeding to construction.

Structural support

Most attic floors are not built to hold extreme weight consistently. Bathtubs, sinks, shower stalls, and toilet bowls are all heavy bathroom fixtures that can easily put a strain on an already delicate attic floor.

For better structural support, contractors use floor joists. They use a joint span table to identify the amount of extra support your new bathroom needs.  Don’t wait for you bathtub to crash through the floor, before ensuring your floor joists are strong, secure, and disaster-ready.

Transporting materials to the construction site

Most attic doorways are small, so transporting heavy materials to the construction site may pose a bit of a problem. The only way to solve this is to take complete and accurate measurements of your attic space and your chosen fixtures. Measure your halls, stairs, doorways, and other surfaces the materials would come in contact with. In some cases, contractors would advise enlarging the attic entrance to begin the project.

While we all know shopping for fixtures is one of the best parts of home renovation, remember to buy only those that can realistically fit in your space. There are many attic-friendly fittings available in the market like shower-tub combos and compact toilets. A fiberglass claw-foot tub, for example, is a lighter and more portable type than most tubs. It is also designed to achieve a smaller footprint. To ensure a perfect fit, you can always opt for custom-made fixtures.

Temperature control

Heat either travels up through your ceiling or escapes from leaks or gaps in your attic. This is why attics can get extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter.

Investing in attic insulation ensures consistent comfort and energy efficiency. One of the best options for attics is the spray-foam roof insulation which forms a tight air barrier that fills every space and does not settle or sag. It also does not consume a lot of space, providing your bathroom with more headroom.

You can also install a ceiling fan in the bathroom to increase airflow in warmer months or an exhaust fan to reduce the moisture in the room. For budget-friendly sound-proofing solutions, simply apply dense blown-in insulation to the bays.

shower

Clutter and lack of space

One of the biggest challenges to any attic project is space. Thankfully, there are design hacks that can make a room feel large and airy.

It may seem like an old design trick, but painting your bathroom white or a lighter color can make the smallest rooms feel open and spacious. White surfaces are reflective and allow light to bounce all around the room.

Bathroom windows easily give an illusion of extra space. A dormer window, for example can create even more headroom while allowing light to filter through. A skylight is also a great way to invite light in and dehumidify the room.

Like wall-length mirrors, glass doors and other reflective surfaces create the illusion of expanding a room’s size. Sliding doors and shelves can also save space as the don’t have to swing into the room’s main area.

Adopting the corner furniture technique is a great way to save on bathroom floor space. It simply involves moving your main furniture pieces in the corners of the room to achieve more space in the middle.  Installing wall-mounted bathroom fixtures is another option to clear up floor space and provide your bathroom with a smart, modern, and minimalist touch.

Clutter can make any room feel small, cramped, and untidy. Mirrored vanity units and wall mounted shelves are smart ways to store toiletries and maximize space. Recessed shelving is also a clean trick to store soaps and shampoos. Removing clutter from your bathroom produces a more relaxed and soothing ambiance.

Stylish and comfortable attic bathrooms

A well-planned and insulated attic bathroom can create additional living space and increase the resale value of your home. At A+ Insulation, we can provide your attic bathroom with superior comfort and insulation at cost-efficient rates. We are proud to be the leading premium insulation provider in Kansas city since 2004. Rest assured, our certified technicians consistently follow industry-leading practices that meet state and local building mandates. Insulation is what we know and do best, but customer service is at the heart of our practices.

Call us at (913) 281-2250 to schedule a free no-obligation energy evaluation.

A Whole New World Beneath Your Feet: Basement Conversion Ideas

basement

Are you looking to build another living space or entertainment hub to your home but don’t know where to build it?

The answer could be right under your nose.

A basement conversion is one of the best ways to add space to your home if you no longer have room to extend above ground. Since basements are closer to the main living areas, it’s the ideal place to add more practical living and entertainment space.

There are plenty of ways to transform your basement, but before you do, prepare your “underground room” first.

First Things First: Prepare the Basement

If a basement is unused or needs a little work before conversion, prioritize its restoration.

Hire a spray foam insulation expert in Kansas City to address the holes and cracks in the room. Spray foam insulation creates an airtight seal that’s less permeable to air infiltration, sealing all the exposed nooks and crannies of your basement. It also provides a moisture barrier that keeps water from seeping through the crevices and damaging your walls and floors.

Another practical way to waterproof your underground space is tanking. It involves applying a protective coating to your interior walls to create a barrier water can’t pass through. Tanking takes two forms: a waterproof sealant/render or a form of fixed membrane.

Once you’ve put the basement in order, you can start planning the conversion.

A New Kind of Room: Basement Conversion Ideas

The function of a basement isn’t limited to a single thing. Since it’s a versatile area, choosing what to do with it can be tricky.

If you’re still wondering what to do with your basement, here are some ideas:

An Extra Bedroom

Perhaps you need more space as your family grows. Instead of having the kids share a room, convert your basement into another bedroom. After waterproofing the basement and improving its insulation, turn it into a cozy personal space for your children.

It’s also good to have an extra bedroom if you love having guests overnight. Let them spend the night in your basement-turned-bedroom.

Home Cinema

Upgrade your movie watching experience by building a cinema right inside your home. The walls of basements absorb less noise compared to rooms above the ground. Soundproof your basement by installing drywall and acoustic noise-proofing sealants, such as SC-175 or Green Glue. Once you’ve finished soundproofing your basement, you can watch movies with the volume turned up to your heart’s content without having to worry about disturbing your neighbors.

Most basements also have fewer windows, which make it easier to control the stream of external light, giving your home a genuine, blackout-darkness feel that makes for good cinema viewing.

Complete your home cinema with a couple of plush chairs and a popcorn machine!

Office or Study Space

If you need a place to concentrate on your deadlines, the basement might be the answer.

Since basements are separate from the main living area, you can spend more time finishing work undisturbed. A study or office space in your basement can also help you separate work from leisure. You can close the door on the distracting sounds of the television, radio, or chatter while in your new study/office space.

Compact office furniture systems don’t take a big chunk of space, so you can add more furniture, such as bookshelves, desks, and study lamps. Depending on the design of your basement, you can also add a separate entrance to your home office, which is useful if you plan to see plenty of clients (or wish to sublet the space in the future).

Home Gym

Work out in the privacy of your home by building your gym in your basement. With a home gym, you save more in the long run due to the absence of membership fees.

When converting your basement to a gym, consider your flooring first. Rubber flooring is the go-to option for a workout space, but wall-to-wall carpeting applied over your rubber floor offers more flexibility in terms of comfort and aesthetics. Use sustainable carpets with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to reduce odor.

If your basement has plenty of bare walls, install a mirror or two. They will be helpful when you need to check if you’re in the correct position when performing different exercises.

Underground Parking

Underground garages are perfect if you have more than one car. A double-tier lift garage allows you to park two cars in one space.

To do this, however, you’ll have to strengthen your basement’s foundation first. In terms of what type of foundation you’ll need and the wall construction, use one of four materials: concrete block, poured concrete, stone walls, and precast panels. Also, use drywall for the walls and ceiling.

Entertainment Room

Bring guests to the one room that has everything they need to stay entertained.

Transform your basement into an entertainment center by adding a pinball machine, pool table, or a big-screen TV for games and movies. You can also add bean bags and sofas for your family and friends to lounge around while you play board games or chat.

If the space allows it, install a mini kitchen where you can prepare snacks while your guests enjoy themselves.

Wine Cellars

wine cellar

Since basements are constructed underground, keeping the area at a constant temperature is easier compared to other parts of the house. If you love wine and wish to keep it close, turn your basement into a wine cellar.

If an HVAC system doesn’t fit your budget, control the temperature by thoroughly insulating the area. If you can accommodate it, invest in a wine room-specific HVAC system to keep a proper balance between humidity and temperature — a crucial factor in keeping your wines in good condition.

Basement Bars

Transform your cellar into a gathering area, complete with a bar. Entertain friends with a couple of drinks (and be their own barkeep) by adding bar stools and a few chairs. Make sure you have enough storage space for your favorite alcohol. Save space with a compact bar with built-in storage compartments and wine coolers.

Space for Loud Hobbies

A little soundproofing can transform your basement into the perfect place for activities that would disturb other household members or your neighbors.

Basements are popular locations for music and recording studios. Have your band practice at home without bothering your neighbors.

If you’re into woodworking, you’re better off finishing your wooden pieces in your basement. Woodworking tools, such as power saws and lathes, can create quite a racket. A finished and soundproof basement can muffle the noise so you aren’t disturbed and don’t disturb anyone else in turn.

Smart Basement Conversion

However you decide to use your basement space, it’s crucial to have a solid plan. Some activities like photograph development or woodworking find a great home in cellars, but you need to prioritize ventilation so you can do these hobbies safely. If you want to turn your basement into a bar, add a bar sink and half-bath to make operations more convenient.

Also, consider the basement’s main purpose if you plan on moving in the future. If this isn’t your retirement home, converting your basement into something unusual might affect a potential homebuyer’s decision and the house’s market value. Not all buyers are fans of home theaters, basement bars, or home gyms, after all.

Design with the future in mind to create a space you’ll love without alienating prospective homebuyers.

“Can I Convert My Basement on My Own?”

There are two ways to go about with a basement conversion: do-it-yourself and hiring a licensed professional.

A do-it-yourself basement conversion is a perfect project to complete in your spare time. Managing a small remodel can save money and time since it gives you complete control over the schedule and your budget.

This control, however, comes with responsibilities, such as filing the proper permits and ensuring all of your conversion updates follow building regulations.

If you’re not prepared for these tasks, hire a professional instead.

Experienced basement remodelers and contractors can apply and manage all the permits for your project. They are familiar with local state and city laws regarding permits. They are also knowledgeable in the right materials to use for your conversion. If you have concerns regarding your budget, they can still find quality materials that suit your financial capability.

Professional contractors use only the necessary tools and put their knowledge to use to perform tasks without flaws. Whether you want to convert your basement into a movie theater, a game room, or another bedroom, an expert can fulfill your requirements effortlessly.

Before you hire a contractor, ask them these questions first:

  • How long have you been providing this service?
  • Are you licensed? Are you also insured?
  • Can I have a look at your previous projects?
  • How long do your projects last?

Take Advantage of the Room Beneath Your Feet

You don’t have to build a new space if you want another bedroom or a game room. The solution for more space is under your nose — or your feet, in this case.

Convert your basement into any room you want with help from the experts. A+ Insulation takes care of the insulation portion of your basement conversion. Reduce energy consumption and improve your new room’s comfort with our spray foam services.

Learn more about how else your new room can benefit from our basement insulation services.

Five Things You Should Check Before Converting Your Attic into a Bedroom

attic bedroomIt’s one thing to dream up a cozy new attic nook for the kids or your guests; it’s another to plan it out and execute the conversion. Though attic conversions are a common home improvement project in Kansas, it’s not as simple as putting up new walls and laying down new floors. It takes thorough planning and trusted professional help to get it done.

Don’t worry, though. If you partner with the right people, an attic conversion can be a piece of cake. A well-thought-of attic bedroom — plus the fun that your family would have — would be worth the effort.

Our insulation installers in Kansas City have put together a list of things to consider when planning your attic conversion.

1. BUILDING CODES

Regulations vary from county to county, but most attic conversion building codes require:

  1. A minimum of 70 sq. ft. of floor space. You don’t want a room designated for rest and leisure to feel cramped.
  2. At least 7 ft. in each direction. This means the dimensions of your new bedroom must be at least 7’x10’. An oddly-shaped attic (say, a 3.5’ x 20’ rectangular space) isn’t a livable quarter. The requirement for a clear floor space is also so people can access the exit in case of emergencies quickly.
  3. At least 50% of the ceiling should be a minimum of 7.5 ft high. This ensures people have ample space to stand upright without hitting their heads on the roof.
  4. A sturdy, full-size staircase. This prevents accidents and enables a speedy exit in case of emergencies. Some codes require the stairs to have a minimum of 6’8’’ headroom; 10’’ deep threads, and 7.25’’ high risers.
  5. Windows. Some codes require another exit, like a window, to make the space more secure.

Your local contractor will walk you through the regulations in your area and explain the necessary renovations to make your future bedroom compliant and safe. Moreover, they’ll help process and obtain any necessary building permits.

2. INSULATION

contractor installing insulation in the atticIf you haven’t paid much attention to your attic’s insulation, then now’s the time to do so. Proper insulation keeps energy bills to a minimum because it prevents the outdoor conditions from affecting indoor temperatures.

More importantly, insulation is crucial to the comfort of the occupants. Since you’re building a new bedroom, insulation must be tight and adequate. Otherwise, no one would get a good night’s sleep there.

Signs of Inadequate Insulation

Here are some signs that your attic’s insulation needs an upgrade:

  • Ice Dams – If you notice sharp icicles lining your roof during the winter, your attic insulation might not be doing its job. Ice dams form when the snow that covers your roof melts, flows, and drips. The water, however, refreezes as it reaches the colder portion of the roof along the eaves. The result is a heavy build-up of ice on the ridges.

A common culprit of the melting-and-refreezing cycle that leads to the formation of ice dams is poor attic insulation. When poorly insulated, the warm air from your living area escapes to the attic and seeps outwards to the roof. The rise in roof temperature melts the ice and starts the process of creating an ice dam.

  • Spike in Energy Bills – Noticed a spike in your energy bills, but haven’t added any new electrical appliance at home? Chances are your attic insulation is at fault. It might have leaks that allow warm air to escape or enter your home. In fact, about 25% of a home’s heat escapes through the attic and roof. As a result, your HVAC system needs to work harder to compensate for the loss.
  • Water Leaks – Just as heat easily enters and exits a poorly insulated home, so does water. The issue with water leaks is that it’s a problem that steadily worsens over time. Moisture seeps in through the insulation, causing water damage and creating a viable environment for mold and mildew. Nobody wants that in a bedroom!

Our insulation contractors can check for other tell-tale signs of under-insulation.

Your Insulation Options

If you think that your attic needs more robust insulating solutions, A+ Insulation offers several kinds of insulation:

  • Insulsafe SP Insulation – Apart from thermal efficiency, this insulation boasts sound absorption and minimal settling. Moreover, it’s non-combustible.
  • Cellulose Insulation – This type of insulation acts like a liquid, covering obstructions and filling up every nook and cranny.
  • Spray Foam Insulation – We do CertaSpray Closed Cell Foam Insulation, which fills up every little space in the area, effectively sealing off heat and air.
  • Batt Insulation – Also known as blanket insulation, this fiberglass insulation is attached to a facing usually made of kraft paper, white vinyl, or aluminum foil. This is ideal for attics with few pipes or wires.

Our contractors inspect your attic and determine the right type of insulation for your new bedroom.

3. VENTILATION

Proper ventilation keeps air flowing in and out of the attic, so it isn’t stuffy or have dank odors. It also releases excess heat or moisture from the attic.

Here’s a 6-point checklist to determine if your attic ventilation is adequate for a new bedroom:

  1. Does ventilation follow building codes? The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends a ratio of 1:150 ventilation space for the attic.
  2. Are there obstructions in the vents? Debris, like leaves, twigs, and dirt, clogs the vents, which makes ventilation inefficient.
  3. Is there moisture build-up? Proper ventilation keeps air flowing in the ceiling and provides an exit for moisture. If moisture is left to accumulate, it could be a sign that ventilation is obstructed.
  4. Is the attic uncommonly hot? Hot ceilings mean hot air is trapped inside, causing your energy bill to spike and creating discomfort for your family.
  5. Are the wood framings and walls warped? A hot ceiling can warp the wood framing and walls in the attic. It can also blister paint and wallpaper.
  6. Do all vents fall under the same system? It’s advisable to stick to the same type of ventilation for the home, whether that’s ridge vents, gable vents, or others. This ensures maximum efficiency.

Your contractor can determine if your attic has adequate ventilation or provide recommendations otherwise.

4. WIRING, HEATING, AND COOLING

There are many DIY videos online, but don’t get swept up in promises that it’s easy to do. Let your contractor handle the electrical wirings, so you’re sure that it meets code requirements. You also have the peace of mind that installation is safe and won’t delay the project.

Electrical Wiring

Where electrical wiring is concerned, you have to go over these two things with your contractor:

  • Outlets – Many bedroom attics have at least one outlet on each wall, and at least one outlet every 12 feet. This deters anyone of the household from stretching cords too far and creating hazards.
  • Light Fixtures – It’s a tight squeeze in the attic, so save the chandeliers for the receiving area. Ask the contractor to install electrical wirings for recessed lights, which are tucked into the ceiling, saving headroom.

HVAC Systems

Have an HVAC expert inspect if your current heating and cooling system can carry the load of another room. They can recommend if your attic needs additional ductwork installed.

If that option exceeds your budget, ask your contractor for other heating and cooling solutions, like mini-split systems.

5. LAYOUT

Pay special attention to these two architectural elements, which are unique to attics.

Angled Ceilings

Attics have angled ceilings, which make for a unique bedroom. You can either change the slope of the roof or make the most of the angled feature.

  • Change the Slope – If you want to change the slope of the ceiling, consider a mansard or dormer conversion (which are popular loft remodeling projects in the UK). A mansard conversion extends the slop of the roof to up to 72 degrees, which dramatically increases headroom. Meanwhile, a dormer conversion creates a vertical wall and horizontal ceiling protruding from the roof.
  • Highlight the Slope – If you think the angled ceiling adds to the charm of the bedroom, then highlight this architectural design. Experiment with paneling with different types of molding. Or install skylights, which flood the room with a healthy dose of sunlight and makes the space more breathable.

Flooring

Attic floors were built for storage, which means they can withstand static weight. It’s possible, however, that the original builders didn’t build the floor to carry the load of a bedroom.

In this case, the attic (if you have a nice space, guests and playmates would want to see them) will experience a lot of movement. Plus, you need to take into account the beds, drawers, lampposts, toy boxes, bookshelves, and other bulky items you’re adding to the room’s decor. Have your contractor check that the floor is structurally sound.

Then, decide on your flooring. Many homeowners choose carpeted floors for their attics because of their sound-proofing capabilities. Since the attic floor is your living quarters’ ceiling, it’s best to cut down the noise of treading feet.

Once you’ve gone over these essentials, you have free rein over the final design of the new bedroom. Build a castle-themed room for your little princesses, create a winning nook for your future sports star, or keep it fresh and minimalist for your guests. You’re the boss.

An attic deserves to have a touch of your personality and taste — even if you have to comply with several structural and safety measures before you get that creative freedom.

Let’s build a comfortable new bedroom in your attic. Contact A+ Insulation for efficient attic insulation in Kansas City.

Attic and Foundation Insulation: Protect Your Home from Humidity and Moisture

Insulation Contractor replacing insulationsMoisture is the common enemy of homeowners. It has wide-ranging implications, from structural home damage to health consequences.

High moisture levels damage the foundations of your home. It accumulates on various surfaces and cause paint to peel, wood structures to rot, and electrical wirings to short circuit. Pests like cockroaches, termites, and other bugs are also known to thrive in damp areas of the house. Dry, wet spots also encourage mold growth and cause health problems, such as throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, coughing, and even skin irritation.

Apart from compromising your health and your home’s structural integrity, high levels of indoor moisture may also cause your energy bills to soar. Too much humidity, which is the moisture content in the air, feels heavy and uncomfortable on the skin. This forces you to up your cooling system usage, potentially increasing your utility bills.

Your number one defense against high humidity is insulation. But first, you have to know how moisture enters or builds inside your home, so you know how and where to reinforce your insulation.

How Does Moisture Enter Your Home?

Moisture isn’t always as obvious as water droplets forming on surfaces. It moves through, in, and out of your house in three ways: air movement, heat transfer, or diffusion through materials. Out of these three methods, air movement is mostly responsible for carrying moisture.

Air currents carry 98 percent of the water content throughout your house, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE). Air easily moves through the cracks or gaps in the walls, floors, or ceilings. Aside from carrying moisture, the drafts that pass through your house also let out warm or cool air, decreasing the efficiency of your HVAC system.

The most effective moisture control strategy for this situation is by sealing all the unintended paths of air movement in your house.

But even if you block all the unwanted air current routes, moisture naturally builds in your home. Various activities, such as dish washing, clothes washing and drying, cooking, and bathing, increase the water content in the air. Some heating equipment like kerosene burners and vent-free natural gas heaters also increase humidity.

This is where insulation comes in. A well-insulated home regulates the level of humidity inside and prevents moisture from seeping into different surfaces.

Plenty of homeowners know the value of wall insulation, mostly for energy efficiency purposes. But many are still unaware of the significance of attic insulation.

Attic Insulation: Blanket, Loose-Fill, or Spray Foam

Attic insulationGenerally, humid air is less dense than dry air because the water molecules make it lighter. This makes humid air naturally rise. An uninsulated attic may allow moisture to pass, through cracks on the surface or via diffusion. When moisture seeps into the attic, it may damage ceiling joists and other vital wooden structures.

Warm air can also escape the house through the attic, since it rises naturally. When this happens, cold air will refill the space, forcing your heater to work twice as hard to warm the room again.

Also, moisture condenses into water droplets when the humid air contacts cool surfaces. This is a huge problem for uninsulated attics, especially during winter. As snow falls on the roof, it also cools the ceiling. And as the humid air rises from the lower rooms to the attic, it may form condensation when it hits the ceiling.

Choose from blanket insulation, loose-fill insulation, or spray foam insulation for your attic. Blanket insulation comes in batts or rolls, so it lends itself well to DIY solutions. This type is ideal for attics with uniformly spaced joists and beams and very little obstructions. Make sure the batts of the insulation material fit the vents snugly for maximum efficiency.

Loose-fill insulation, on the other hand, is more ideal for attics with limited space. The loose insulation material easily fills small areas with multiple obstructions. The material should be fluffy, but over time, it loses its volume and effectiveness. You may need to add more if your insulation looks flat or doesn’t rise over the floor joists

Spray foam insulation offer the highest R-value, which refers to the material’s resistance to heat transfer. The closed-foam cells contain gas that allows them to expand and fill even the tiniest spaces. This insulation gives you a solid, protective barrier against humidity and air flow. Unlike blanket insulation, spray foam isn’t a DIY project because it requires special tools and safety gear. An experienced spray foam contractor will ensure that the foam is applied and cured properly to prevent it from cracking or breaking and emitting foul odor.

Apart from the attic, the foundation of your home is also prone to moisture damage, mostly because of capillary action.

Foundation Insulation

Capillary action or wicking action refers to the ability of water to travel through a porous material, even without the help of gravity. The most probable source of moisture problems in the foundation is water leakage. This holds true whether you have a crawlspace, slab-on-grade, or a basement.

The water from the leakage flows through porous material, such as wood, concrete, and other masonry materials. It can also result from water entering from the foundation through cracks or holes on the basement. In this instance, the first step would be to check for any damage that may allow water to pass through so that you can address them. Otherwise, insulating cracked floors and walls will only give you wet and ineffective insulation.

An uninsulated or poorly insulated foundation poses grave structural issues to your entire home. Since most foundations are built from concrete, heat loss is also very likely because the warmth can escape through the concrete’s pores. This energy loss can rack up your utility bills, especially in winter.

Insulation for the foundation is more complicated than the attic’s because it’s heavily in contact with the ground, groundwater, and other factors that increase its risk for moisture problems. Insulation solutions will depend on the type of foundation, depth of the footing, style of construction, and the local climate. An insulation contractor will help you determine the specifics necessary to identify which moisture control solution is best for your home.

A+ Service from A+ Insulation

A+ Insulation is your trusted insulating company in Kansas City. We provide quality installations as well as excellent customer service. Our team of experts will inspect your house to determine the root of the moisture problem in your home, so we can arrive at the optimal solution.

We pick only the best materials to ensure the longevity of your insulation. A+ Insulation strives to make sure that your house is well-insulated and compliant with state and local building policies.

Schedule an appointment today and have one of our consultants do a free, no-obligation energy evaluation. Contact us here.

Never Too Early: Preparing For Winter During The Summer

Winter is fast-approaching, and while it can be one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, it can also be the most challenging. Despite all the festivities and the captivating view that snow fall makes. According to a survey from YouGov, when asked about their favorite season, only 13% of respondents prefer the winter season, making it the least favorite season of Americans. Our point it that it is probably time to start preparing for winter.

Why it is Important to Start Preparing for Winter Now

From making driving extra dangerous to constant frost bite, Americans seem to have different reasons why they aren’t big winter fans. Often because people dread the coming of winter they end up putting to the back of their minds and end up unprepared for the season. Moreover, when it comes to winter preparation, most of us are distracted with all the festivities and the prospect of a vacation making us forget that our homes need to undergo changes in order to be fully equipped for this tough season.House covered with snow

Preparing for the winter season is just as important as preparing for storms, and welcoming this season unprepared will have repercussions on you, your home, and your family. With winter storms and cold temperatures, staying safe and healthy during the winter can be hard if you fail to plan ahead. Keeping our health in check and making sure we’re comfortable during the coming winter means making changes to your home.

Don’t Wait for Freezing Temperatures

Instead of waiting for the freezing temperature and cold winds to blow in, summer can be the best time to start winterizing your home. Of course, calendars this summer season are already filled with road trips and family vacations. Since children get long vacations and thanks to the wonderful summer weather, it’s understandable that your summer days are already booked with fun activities such as hiking, fishing, or even going out of the country. Summer days are usually busy for everyone and with so much going on, time can really fly by.

However, summer is the perfect time to prepare your home for the coming cold winds of winter. You might be thinking that it’s too early to be thinking about the winter season when we still have months of fall before winter finally kicks in. But while preparing ourselves for the winter can be as easy as getting our long-sleeved and turtleneck clothes from the back of our closets, preparing our homes is a lot more complicated.

Just like during stormy seasons, some of us often wait for severe weather conditions to hit before we actually start preparing and grab some necessities. While this may work sometimes, it is still better to prepare in advance. Preparation is easier while the weather is still sunny and pleasant. If we wait until it’s already cold and snowy, some parts of your preparation may be a lot harder to accomplish.

Winter can be brutal, and it can start earlier than expected.  In 2018, Kansas City experienced their first snow fall on October 15, breaking a 120-year-old record on the earliest measurable snowfall in the city. Aside from the fact that snowfall can start earlier than expected, the snow in Kansas averages 15 inches of snow per year, making it snowier than most cities in Missouri.

The first snowfall can be unpredictable and the cold winds and freezing temperature might start earlier than we expected, which is why we should take advantage of the pleasant weather of summer season to get ready for the tough and harsh winter.

Winterizing your home

From building emergency kits to getting your snow shovels to deal with the large volume of snow, there are many ways to prepare for winter. But if there’s one preparation you should do as early as now, it’s winterizing your home through proper insulation.

If you’re reluctant to contact insulation contractors to invest in home insulation because of its cost, it’s important to remember that insulation at your home will not only keep you warm during the winter but will also be beneficial for you and your family all year round, making it a worthy home investment.

With extremely cold temperature comes the loss of comfort in your own home and sickness among your family. In order to eliminate these possibilities, homeowners should invest in proper insulation for the coming winter. Home insulation should be one of the top priorities in your preparation for this very challenging season.

Here’s why home insulation is a great investment.

Comfort

Even though you’re inside the four walls of your home, keeping comfortable in the winter can be a challenge. It can take numerous blankets, extra layers of clothing, and extra usage of your home’s heater in order to stay warm during the lowest temperatures of the season. Insulation works by stopping the transfer of heat, helping to keep the temperature inside your home as warm.

Health

Constant exposure to low temperature and can impact the body’s immune system, as cold winds can affect our first line of defense. While the cold weather is not responsible for making more people sick during the winter, the viruses that cause colds can spread more easily in lower temperatures. Insulating your home can keep the temperature of your home under control, making you and your family less prone to catching colds during the winter season.

Energy saving

Air leaks can be present around your home, without your knowledge. From windows, doors, basement, and attic, air leaks can be wasting energy at your home, making your heater work harder to keep your home warm. Proper insulation at home helps prevent heat loss and can increase the efficiency of your HVAC systems, significantly helping you lower your energy bills.

Resale value

An added bonus of having a proper insulation system at home is the increase of its resale value. If the idea of selling your home is in the next five years is on your mind, installing or updating an insulation system can make your home more attractive to potential buyers.

How and where to start?

Contractor installing the proper insulationAccording to the US Department of Energy, having a proper insulation system at home can save you up to 20 percent of your home’s heating costs. Now that you have decided to invest in proper insulation in your home in order to prepare for the coming winter, you might be a little lost on which parts of your home needs insulation and what type of insulation is best for it.

If you are committed to insulating your home but not sure where to start, here are the specific areas in your home that you should insulate:

Attic

This area of your home is arguably the most important of your home that needs proper insulation. Your home’s attic holds a lot of generated heat as heat naturally rises. In order to keep that warmth inside your home, this area of your home should be properly insulated. Blown in and spray foam insulation in your attic for the winter will prevent heat from escaping your home.

Walls

The walls of your home also need proper insulation in order to reduce the needed energy to warm your home during the cold days of winter. Aside from making your home a more comfortable environment, insulated walls also reduce noise by blocking sounds which gives your home and family more privacy.

Floors

Just because heat naturally rises doesn’t mean that heat can’t be lost through flooring. Heat inside your home can also escape through uninsulated flooring, especially in areas such as the garage and basement. In preparation for the winter, adding spray or blown-in insulation in your home’s flooring will protect the heated air produced by your home’s heating systems.

Cozy up this winter with A+ Insulation

A home that is not properly insulated doesn’t only make your home uncomfortable, it can also put you and your family’s health at risk.

If you’re determined to have a cozy and comfortable winter this year, you can trust A+ Insulation to provide your home superior comfort. Our teams of insulation technicians have been insulating homes in Kansas City since 2004, so we know how to get the job done right. We will add the right amount and right type of insulation in the areas of your home that need it most in order to provide you and your family a consistent level of comfort, whether it’s winter, summer or any season of the year.

When it comes to home insulation, you can trust our team of highly trained and experienced technicians to deliver A+ job every time. Contact us today and let’s make this year’s winter your best, warmest, and most comfortable one yet.

Inherited an Old House? Here’s How to Check If It’s Under-insulated

A+-insulation-kansas-city-attic

From the intricate plaster moldings on the ceiling to the grandiose decorations on the fireplace, there’s no doubt that old homes in Kansas City have a unique charm to them. They’re also built with better craftsmanship and materials compared to the newer, mass-produced houses in the suburbs. Depending on the location, people could get these aging houses for cheap, too. It’s no wonder why people still cling onto them.

Growing Pains

According to the National Association of Home Builders’ 2015 Eye On Housing study, 38% of houses in the United States were built in 1969 or earlier. The report stated that the median age of a home in the country is 37 years old. If you inherited a home that’s as old, or older than that, you’re lucky to own a piece of architectural history.

However, even houses aren’t immune to the pains of aging, so your inheritance may manifest such symptoms. Old homes run into a number of problems as materials degrade and building codes change. Some homes may have water problems because they use outdated or inadequately spaced pipes. Others may still have structural components that are now deemed unsafe. These problems vary from house to house, but a common issue in some aging houses is poor insulation – or the lack of it. So, despite the benefits you may gain from your old-house inheritance, insulation may be something you need to check and fix.

Importance of Insulation

According to experts from Realtor.com, old homes, especially ones built on or before the 1960s, weren’t built with insulation in mind. This is because energy prices were so low back then that people just cranked up their heaters or ACs with no fear of raising the bills. Now that we’re constantly facing higher electricity costs, and trying to reduce our carbon footprint as well, we need insulation to keep our homes energy efficient.

How exactly does insulation lower your bills?

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) says that the heat of your home fluctuates from warm to cool until there are no differences in temperature between all your rooms. It means that your heating and cooling appliances need to use more power to keep you comfortable. During winter, heat can slowly escape from your living room to your basement or garage, leaving you with no choice but to turn up your heater. During summer, the heat from outside enters your home, and you need to disperse that heat by cranking up your air conditioner.

The agency says that insulation is a great way to counteract the effects of these extreme weather conditions on your house by resisting heat flow. It prevents heat from escaping through the walls, floor, and ceiling during cold days. It also blocks outdoor heat from entering your abode during warm days. With insulation in your home, you consume less electricity because you don’t have to use your heater and AC to their maximum level to feel comfortable.

Insulation Inspection

Knowing all these, it’s time to inspect your old home before you move in or sell your property. Here’s what you need before you start the job.

  • Safety glasses
  • Protective mask
  • Gloves
  • Flashlight
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Your phone or a camera, to take pictures of problem areas

Uneven Temperature

Before you open any floorboards or poke holes in your wall, try to see if the temperatures in the rooms are different. Turn down your heating or cooling equipment, close the windows, and try to gauge the temperature in every room. If you feel extra chilly in the living room, but not the kitchen, your walls may be poorly insulated. You can also use a smart temperature sensor to get more accurate readings. Take note of these areas.

Sudden Drafts

Insulation materials don’t only block heat; they also seal your home to make sure that the cold, outside air doesn’t leak into your rooms. The DOE recommends checking walls, floors, and corners of your home for any cracks or gaps that need to be sealed. If you don’t see any cracks or gaps or are unsure about the gaps you saw, shine a light on them and ask another person to watch the other side of the wall or floor. If they see the light shining through, then it means the walls and flooring lack insulation.

Pest Problems

Poorly sealed and insulated ceilings, floors, and walls not only act as a portal for cold drafts to enter, but they’re also a gateway for all sorts of pests to enter your home. A small rodent can easily make its way into a gap where insulation should be and create all sorts of problems. Apart from strange scratching and bumping noises at night, these pests may bring potentially life-threatening diseases with them.

Dust contaminated with mouse droppings and urine can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) when inhaled. This disease can cause your lungs to fill with fluid and your stomach to always ache. Wear a mask and gloves and inspect every corner of your house for droppings or rodent nests. If you see any signs of pests, you may want to call in a pest control specialist before you get any work done on your insulation.

Hot and Cold Surfaces

Apart from the temperature of the air inside each room, you should also check the walls and floors for any anomalies. If you find that one wall is damp or cold, it probably isn’t padded with enough insulation to resist the cold air coming from outside. Mark or take a picture of this wall or floor to point it out to your insulation service provider.

See for Yourself

The methods we’ve discussed so far are non-intrusive ways to look for poorly-insulated areas. While these methods are often effective for sniffing out places with heating and cooling issues, you won’t know for sure until you see the insulation material itself — if there are any.

Here’s how you can check your walls, ceilings, and floors.

Start from the Top

A house being insulatedThe easiest way to check on your home’s insulation material is by going up your attic. Put some old clothes on, together with all the safety equipment mentioned earlier, and head up. With your flashlight, check if the attic floor is filled to the joists with insulation material. Its appearance can vary according to the material used.

  • Loose fibers or batts often indicate that it’s made of either fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose.
  • Puffs of foam mean that your home uses spray foam (SPF) insulation.
  • Uniform, rectangular stacks suggest that the attic is lined with panel insulation.

If the material doesn’t cover the joists, it may not be doing enough to insulate your home. You need to add more or replace the existing foam, fibers, or panels.

A Word of Caution: Dealing With Asbestos

If your home was built before the ’80s, there’s a possibility that it may have asbestos insulation. This toxic substance was regarded as a superior insulation material because of its ability to resist extreme heat and fire. It’s also durable and long-lasting. However, asbestos was found to cause several diseases like mesothelioma and respiratory cancers when people inhaled toxic amounts of dust that come from it.

If your material has a granular shape and texture and gray in color, don’t panic – especially if you have a mask. It won’t do you any harm, but it’s best to call an asbestos removal contractor immediately to take care of it.

Go Beyond the Wall

Now that you’ve assessed your attic’s insulation, it’s time to check your walls. The DOE’s recommended way of doing this is easy and doesn’t involve any power tools. First, choose a wall with a power outlet and turn off the electricity in that area. Then, unscrew and take off the outlet cover to see inside the wall. Use your flashlight to look around the hole for insulation material.

If possible, pinch off a small amount of the material and see if it’s the same one used for the attic, or another material entirely. Do this for all the outlets in your home to see if there are any walls with no insulation.

Open up the Boards

If your old home has a wood or composite floor, heat may escape through the cracks if it doesn’t have any insulation. Plus, no one wants to walk on a cold floor. Try to lift one of your boards by prying a chisel in one of the gaps. Use your hammer’s claw to raise the board slowly until it pops out. You’ll easily see the insulation material once you take off the panel.

Now that you’ve inspected and documented the amount of insulation in your aging house, it’s time to assess your findings. If you find that your attic joists, walls, and floorboards are filled with material, you can always check for gaps and fill them in with a can of spray foam. If the areas you’ve checked have little to no material, your home is severely under-insulated.

Call an insulation contractor immediately to get the existing material replaced or have the empty areas filled in. The comfort and savings you get from proper insulation will make your old home worth keeping for another lifetime. And if you’re planning to sell your home, your buyer will likely be willing to pay a better price for an architectural wonder that’s comfortable by modern standards.

Spray Foam Insulation Services You Can Rely On

Up to 30% of your home’s heat leaks through your walls, floors, and roof when you have inadequate insulation. Here at A+ Insulation, we provide professional spray foam insulation services that can reduce your cooling and heating bills by up to 50%. It’s also an effective sealant that keeps drafts and pests at bay. We’re licensed, bonded, and insured; you can trust us for all your home insulation needs.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation inspection of your home’s insulation.