You'll want to inspect the insulation in your home. To assist in the inspection, you'll need a flashlight, a screwdriver, a tape measure, and pencil and paper. A ladder may also be required.
Start by walking around your home and identifying all the parts of the building that could have different insulation details. New additions, for example, often have a framing structure that allows more insulation than in the original building. Your home will have, at minimum, different insulation details at the walls, ceiling, and floor, and it could have several different details for each. Create a list to keep track of your findings.
Identify the type of insulation. Determine the R-value per inch from the table below. Use the average R-value from the table.
|Building Material||R-Value per Inch|
|Concrete||0.1 or less|
|Wood||1.0 to 1.5|
|Fiberglass batts (standard)||3.0|
|Fiberglass batts (high density)||4.0|
|Fiberglass (loose-fill in open attic)||2.3|
|Fiberglass (dense-pack in cavity)||4.0|
|Cellulose (dense-pack in cavity||3.2|
|Cellulose (loose-fill in open attic)||3.4|
|Mineral wool batts||3.3|
|Expanded polystyrene foam board (white beadboard)||4.1|
|Extruded polystyrene foam baord (usually blue, yellow, or pink||5.0|
|Polyurethane spray foam (low density)||3.7|
|Polyurethane spray foam (high density)||6.5|
|Polyisocyanurate foam board (foil-faced)||6.5|
|3.5 inches fiberglass loose fill in attic||Average R-value of 2.3 per inch||3.5 x 2.3 = R-8|
|3.5 inches cellulose loose fill in attic||Average R-value of 3.4 per inch||3.5 x 3.4 = R-12|
|24 inches fiberglass loose fill in attic||Average R-value of 2.3 per inch||24 x 2.3 = R-55|
|3.5 inches fiberglass dense pack in wall||Average R-value of 4 per inch||3.5 x 4 = R-14|
The most common cavities are within standard vertical walls. In North American frame homes, the typical wall is assembled from wooden two-by-fours (3.5 inches in actual thickness), or two-by-sixes (5.5 inches in actual thickness).
Vaulted or cathedral ceilings have closed cavities above their ceilings instead of attics. These roof cavities vary in depth depending on the roof framing, but are usually 8 to 14 inches thick. Some homes are built with a combination of open and closed attic cavities.
Closed cavities are also sometimes constructed over garages or above unheated basements. These floor vaults vary in thickness depending on the framing, but are usually 6 to 12 inches thick.
The trick to inspecting vaults is in finding access to look inside. You may be tempted to skip this inspection on the assumption that the cavity was completely and correctly filled during construction. Our experience has shown this is rarely the case. Take a look at our suggestions on inspecting these areas of your home here.
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