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Insulating Your Vancouver Home
If you’ve bought an older Vancouver home and found it to be somewhat drafty or chilly then it might be time to consider some new insulation. Insulation not only helps to keep the home warmer in the winter months but can also keep it cooler in those hotter humid summer months.
Some indications that your home is not properly insulated in winter months include cold walls or floors, expensive heating bills, indications of mould and uneven heat throughout the home. In summer, some of the signs of inadequate insulation include uncomfortable heat levels, inadequacy of air conditioning and mould growing in the basement.
There are many different types of insulation available these days, and some types of insulation are more suitable for different parts of the home.
Ideally, the shell of the home should have 3 separate components when it comes to insulation. The exterior should have an air barrier underneath the siding or brick. The interior of the home should have insulation within the wall studs of the framework which should be covered with a third lawyer which is actually a vapour barrier to keep moisture at bay.
How Insulation is Rated
The effectiveness of insulation is rated by the “R” value or in metric terms the “RSI” value. The R refers to the insulation’s resistance ability to resist the movement of heat. The higher the R or RSI value – the higher the resistance factor.
Most provincial building codes have a minimal R value assigned to how insulation is used in varying applications, and most particularly refer to new construction, and will provide you with a good guide for how to use insulation effectively to insulate older homes.
Types of Insulation
Here is a basic guide of the types of insulation that are available for use:
Batt Type Insulation
Batt insulation comes in the form of bales which are wrapped and generally shaped to fit perfectly in between the wall studs and include:
- Fibreglass – Very commonly used for wall studs
- Mineral Wool – Has slightly better resistance to fire and sound proofing capabilities
- Cotton – Not very common
Loose Fill Insulation
The types of loose fill insulation should generally be applied using a professional installer. The types of loose fill insulation include:
- Fibreglass – pink or yellow in colour and perhaps not the best for attics as it can be affected by air movement
- Mineral Fibre – considered very light
- Cellulose Fibre – Grey in colour but is best applied by an experienced installer
Board Stock Insulation
There are a variety of types and include the following:
- Types I and II – usually comprised of polystyrene or EPS. Very thin and has foam beads pressed together and must be covered.
- Types III and IV – Also made of polystyrene or XPS. A suitable choice for moist of humid climates as can act as vapour barrier and must also be covered.
- Rigid Fibreglass and Rigid Mineral Fibre– Less rigid than polystyrene and has good drainage capability
- Polyisocyanurate – Is a rigid foam that is foil-faced
Sprays may have a number of potential health risks when being applied so it is vital that you closely follow the manufacturer’s requirements for using safety and protective equipment. Ideally, this type of insulation should be applied by a professional installer. The types of spray insulation materials include:
- Wet Spray Cellulose – Consist of a very fine particles which are held together with a binding agent
- Open Cell Light Density Polyurethane– A soft foam of spray which expands in the cavity area and must be covered with a vapour barrier
Keep in mind that the different types of insulation described above are suitable for different areas of the home such as the attic, wall studs, floors and basement and the exterior of the building. Using the wrong insulating material in the wrong location can be very counter-productive.