With winter right around the corner, homeowners carry out last-minute preparations to protect their homes from the chill. With most focusing on their drainage, gutters, and other exterior elements, it’s easy to overlook certain areas—such as your home’s insulation.
While poor insulation is mostly felt during the winter, its consequences can be felt year-round. From higher utility bills to internal damage, your entire household is affected by this structural issue. Make sure your home is protected from the elements this winter to keep it comfortable.
Insulation Inspection: Which Areas are Often Overlooked
It’s typical for homeowners to forget checking the insulation, because it’s rarely seen after a construction or renovation. Checking parts of your home that lack insulation will help you determine the areas prone to leakage and where you can apply spray foam for better insulation.
As the temperature drops, uninsulated pipes are at risk of freezing. The ice that accumulates will expand and create cracks in your plumbing. Once it thaws, the water may leak through the gaps and cause damage to your home. At worst, certain areas in your home might flood once spring arrives.
Doors and Windows
The areas around your doors and windows are treated with weatherstripping to prevent cold air from entering and warm air from escaping. However, this will deteriorate over time, rendering it ineffective. Aside from the cold draft, this will create condensation, resulting in moisture damage and mold growth.
Much like your pipes, outdoor faucets are prone to frost during the winter. When the area surrounding the spout is not insulated, it’s prone to ice expansion, which creates holes in your walls come springtime. Although most choose to use specialized faucets to prevent frost, insulating the surrounding area is also essential for your home’s structural integrity.
Attics and Basements
Your attic is a good heat source during the winter, because it keeps heat from escaping. However, holes in its insulation will prevent your attic from effectively trapping heat. A poorly insulated basement, on the other hand, causes mold and mildew growth. These spaces require a balance between ventilation and insulation to ensure the right indoor temperature all year.
Most garages don’t need to be insulated. However, if you use your garage for hobbies and anything other than basic storage, it will need the same treatment as the rest of your home. Leaving this space uninsulated will create temperature problems, like cold drafts and excessive condensation, that can be felt throughout your whole property.
Vents and Ductwork
The vents and ductwork in older homes often have damaged insulation. When this is left unaddressed, you risk cold air leaking into your home. Damaged insulation will also let warm air out, causing your heating system to work harder and consume more energy.
Most homeowners tend to overlook their crawlspaces. However, these spaces are essential to maintaining your home’s temperature and air quality. Poor insulation will allow cold drafts to enter through your floors, which, in turn, will increase moisture build-up in the air.
The installation of insulation is part of the initial construction process. Unfortunately, poor building practices can lead to gaps, and sometimes inexperienced builders will forget about this crucial step. If either of these situations occur on your exterior walls, your home is at risk of several structural issues. In addition to excessive condensation from ice build-up, the absence of insulation can allow pests access to your home.
Your chimney provides you with an additional heat source, but it can also be the source of drafts during the winter. Older chimneys often have cracks and gaps in the area attached to your home. These holes allow downdraft to enter, lowering your interior temperature.
Much like new exterior walls, the ceilings of additional rooms are often left uninsulated. They become a source of cold drafts, moisture damage, and pest infestation.
Year-Round Protection: Why You Should Use Spray Foam Insulation
Insulation comes in different forms, but more and more homeowners are seeing the benefits of using spray foam insulation. Unlike blanket batts, reflective barriers, and other alternatives, spray foam provides your home with an airtight seal from the elements. When installed by professionals, this provides your home with benefits aside from additional warmth.
It Reduces Energy Bills.
The polyurethane used in spray foam expands up to a hundred times its original size. It gives you better coverage, especially in hard to reach areas like cracks and edges. Once it expands and hardens, spray foam gives you better temperature control. It reduces heating costs during colder months, allowing you to save on energy. It also prevents cold air from escaping during warmer months, reducing the stress on your air conditioning unit.
It Prevents Moisture Damage.
Moisture is a year-round problem for any homeowner. Any compromise to your roof or walls can let water into your house and cause damage. When left unaddressed, this can result in mold and mildew growth. Spray foam provides an airtight and moisture-resistant solution to this problem. Proper insulation prevents moisture from seeping into your home, which preserves its structural integrity.
It Has a Longer Lifespan.
Insulation is essential year-round, even if its use is only felt during the colder months. Using spray foam gives you a year-round advantage because of its durability. Unlike traditional insulation options, this alternative lasts longer and requires less maintenance. Although it isn’t the cheapest option available, it’s a worthy investment, as it helps you protect your home from the natural factors that affect its performance.
It Prevents Pest Infestations.
Aside from improving temperature control, insulation prevents pest infestations. Termites, insects, and small rodents usually enter your home through cracks, holes, and crevices in the roof and walls. Since spray foam expands and fills in the smallest of these gaps, it prevents these pests from entering and multiplying in your home. Spray foam hardens once it dries, making it near impenetrable for these small critters.
Red Flags: How to Identify Signs of Poor Insulation
Determining your home’s insulation condition can be challenging, especially if you don’t know where to start. In addition to the places mentioned above, there are signs you should watch out for. These red flags will help you identify the insulation problem.
Higher Energy Bills
The easiest way to check your home’s insulation is to review your energy bill history. If the amount increases excessively within in a short period, it might be a sign of insulation problems. Leakage will cause your HVAC system to work harder, as it tries to adjust to the sudden changes in temperature.
Use the colder months to check your rooms for drafts. If you still feel a chill even when doors and windows are closed and the heater is running, it can be a sign of poor insulation. Even the smallest gap can let cold air inside your home.
Cold or Damp Walls
Conduct a “touch test” on your walls. If you put your hand up against a wall and it’s cold or damp, you can use it as a sign of poor insulation. This is also a red flag for moisture damage. In addition to looking for air gaps, check your walls for water leaks.
Wet Spots on Ceilings
Water can quickly enter poorly insulated homes. If you have leaks or see wet spots in your ceilings, there might be a problem with your insulation. Inspect your attic first for holes and gaps before doing the same to your roof. If you find any, you will have to repair them immediately to prevent them from growing worse.
Mold or Mildew
Excessive mold and mildew can grow when there is too much condensation in your home. When either of these issues is left unaddressed, they compromise your home’s air quality. It creates an environment where allergens increase and dust mites thrive, creating health risks for your household. If you notice mold in room corners or mildew in bathrooms and the kitchen, consider inspecting your insulation.
Insulation prevents pests from entering your home. If you notice pest droppings on the floor or see termite holes in your walls, you may have a problem with your insulation. In addition to hiring insulation installation services, you will need to find an exterminator to control your pest problem.
Work with the Pros: Why You Should Hire a Professional for Your Insulation Needs
Winterizing your home is essential to keeping it comfortable and safe throughout the year. When it has poor insulation, it is at risk of several problems that may compromise its durability and protection against the elements. However, adding insulating on your own may not always lead to the best results. Professional services will ensure a job well done.
A+ Insulation has been providing spray foam insulation to homeowners in Kansas and Missouri since 2004. We know how to determine which areas of your home are most compromised. Let us help you keep your home warm this winter. We offer a FREE, no-obligation inspection and estimate.