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What to Know About Insulation When Buying a House

Real Estate | existing home insulation

What to Know About Insulation When Buying a House Blog Feature
Eric Garcia

By: Eric Garcia on March 6th, 2018

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Pressure mounts when you’re in the home-buying process.

There’s the stress of putting in your bid, researching the neighborhood, consuming as much knowledge about a home’s intricacies, and a lot more.

One detail you won’t want to overlook when perusing a house, you hope to transform into your dream home is its insulation.

One of the first things you want to do when in the home-buying process is to ask the agent what type of insulation is in the home. Furthermore, ask for gas and electric bill history for the home.

This will give you a good idea of how well the home’s insulation is functioning. Anyone who is serious about selling their home should have this information readily inspired. If the current homeowner doesn’t have the info, a home inspector will be able to pull it up for you.

Let’s take a look at some of the other things you need to know about your dream home’s insulation.

Related: 5 Things to Buy and Replace when You Buy a New House

Does the Home Have Fiberglass Insulation?

Fiberglass insulation is an old technology that is not as effect as other options.

There are a few signs that indicate insulation will need to be replaced or improved upon.

If there is fiberglass in the walls or attics, it definitely needs improvement since it’s been proven to breakdown and settle over time. Because of this, its ability to maintain insulation diminishes as its R-Value decreases by 40 percent – potentially costing you money you could have otherwise saved.

When the temperature outside is below 20 degrees, fiberglass loses up to 40 percent of its effectiveness. That percentage increases to 50 percent when the temperature drops below zero.

Finally, with its lower R-Values, fiberglass must be installed perfectly to be effective at normal temperatures. The material also still allows for some air flow.

Does the Home Have Cellulose Insulation?

Cellulose is not the best insulation for an attic, but it’s acceptable – but you will have to maintain it.

Cellulose insulation is only effectively used in an attic as long as at least 12-inches has been installed. The material’s R-Value is generally around 3.7 per inch, however it loses effectiveness over time due to settling and shifting.

Additionally, as a loose fill insulation, cellulose tends to find itself throughout a home’s ductwork, walls, and fixtures.

More Isn’t Necessarily Better

A common insulation misunderstanding is that more is better, but that’s not the case.

Just because you get a peak within the attic and you see a lot of insulation, it doesn’t mean you’re squared away and everything is good to go.

Adding too much insulation potentially causes a slew of problems, including moisture issues and weight and structure damage from the material drifting.

More isn’t always better, but properly installed insulation is.

The Roof Can Signal Insulation Problems

The condition of the roof can also signal insulation problems.

If you notice the roof is shot, shriveled, or burnt from the sun, that is a sure sign of inadequate insulation or ventilation.

Find a Home Inspector Who Offers a Home Energy Audit

When you are far along in the home-buying process and it’s time for a home inspection, it helps to find a home inspector who does a home energy audit.

A home energy audit provides insight through diagnostic testing of where and how a home is losing energy. This will display how effective the current insulation is and if it will need upgrading or additional insulation in some spaces.

Buying Your Dream Home

Buying a home is about knowing what you’re getting into.

You most likely have a budget and need to consider all potential future costs, not just the price of the home. Knowing the insulation situation saves you dollars up front and also in the long-term as you avoid any future problems.

Home Insulation Find a RetroFoam Dealer

About Eric Garcia

Eric brings his knowledge and training in building science, training in spray and injection foams from the manufacturers, more than 8 years installing foam insulation, as well as selling and managing in the foam insulation industry. He is also BPI and Dale Carnegie certified and has taken several building science courses including air sealing and building envelope. Eric’s responsibilities include overseeing and giving support to all of the branches of the RetroFoam of Michigan company, office, estimates, and installs. He is also the Professor of Foam on our educational YouTube series Foam University. Even when Eric is off he is usually still “working” or thinking about work, but when he can get away he enjoys camping, hiking, hunting, and woodwork.