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Having a home that is well-insulated can translate to tremendous savings on monthly energy bills. However, for people who are unfamiliar with home improvement and renovation, the world of insulation can be overwhelming. After becoming familiar with commonly used terms and the different types of insulation, purchasing the best type and installing it is a much easier process.
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Types of Insulation
There are a several different choices when it comes to types of insulation that perform effectively. However, each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly and most widely available type of insulation is fiberglass, which can be purchased as batts or loose fill. Batts are generally easier to install as they are essentially blankets of insulation that have been woven together and include a paper or foil moisture barrier. Although fiberglass is relatively inexpensive, it also provides desirable features like resistance to water damage, and it is non-flammable.
Mineral wool insulation, also known as rock wool, is similar in structure to fiberglass; however, it is more expensive and not as easy to find. In terms of physical appearance, mineral wool can be compared to dusty dryer lint. This type of insulation is also available in a loose fill form that can be blown into place or poured. A disadvantage to using mineral wool is that it settles over time and cakes when wet, which results in less effectiveness for insulation.
Cellulose insulation is made from recycled paper. It is available as a loose fill product and has been treated to resist damage from pests and moisture. However, when moisture absorption occurs, like mineral wool, cellulose becomes compacted and heavy and is less effective in that state.
Spray Foam Caution
Touted as a green insulation product, spray foam is a polyurethane product that involves mixing two chemicals that are applied with a hose. While most spray foam can be installed without incident, serious problems, including unpleasant odors, difficulty breathing and health problems can affect occupants of the building if the job is done incorrectly.
Because some types of insulation can become less effective over time, a different insulation product can be added over one that has diminished in insulation value. For example, it is possible to add batts of fiberglass or even loose fill over cellulose insulation that has become compacted.
Whether applying insulation to a roof, crawl space or a wall, it is important to follow safety guidelines to minimize the risk of discomfort and health issues. Fiberglass can be very itchy if it makes contact with the skin, and it can also irritate the lungs. For this reason, some people may wish to work with a type of insulation that causes less irritation. However, when working with any insulation product, it is important to cover the mouth and nose with a breathing apparatus and to wear goggles and protective clothing including gloves and a hat. After working with insulation, taking a shower in colder water can help wash away fibers that may irritate the skin. Using colder water is best as warm water can open the skin's pores and increase discomfort.
Last updated on May 2, 2017