As it is not one of the visible components of a home, it can be easy--and tempting--to cut corners when it comes to insulation. However, in order to save yourself suffering when the utility bills are due and protect the longevity of your home, guaranteeing top-notch insulation should be a priority for all homeowners. Like all aspects of a home, insulation will eventually lose effectiveness over time and need to be replaced. How often should you have its condition inspected?
Many professionals recommend having an annual insulation inspection. This helps homeowners stay ahead of any degradation that is forming and ensure that the insulation is maintaining its advertised R-value.
While having your insulation inspected every year may be a bit ambitious for some homeowners, it is absolutely critical that it be checked at least every five years. To help you decide on whether the time is right for an inspection, keep reading for a detailed breakdown on everything there is to know about home insulation inspections.
Understand the History of Your Home
With the increased focus on sustainability, energy efficiency, and net-zero living, insulation R-value has become a top priority in new construction homes. However, that has not always been the case.
Insulation used to be viewed as a sort of “necessary evil” for attics alone, with loose-fill cellulose blown into the attic to keep heat from rising out of the top of the home. Anyone who has ever tried to pull items out of storage knows how fun it is to have this type of insulation shower their face.
But insulation in the walls or floors?
It doesn’t exist in many older homes.
Therefore, if you know that your home is lacking insulation in one of these areas, get it inspected as soon as you can. Most inspection professionals can perform a blower door test that will give you an idea of where your house is hemorrhaging air, allowing you to focus your efforts on securing these areas first.
Inspection Needs Will Depend on Region
Insulation inspections will vary based on your region. While more temperate climates may be able to get away with postponing an insulation inspection, those regions that are known to have extreme weather events will need to have inspections with greater regularity.
For the south-central region of Texas/Oklahoma that is no stranger to high temperatures and tornado-force winds, ensuring the quality of your insulation should be a top priority, as it will regularly be put to the test.
Likewise, coastal regions that get hit with hurricane-grade winds and heavy precipitation, as well as mountainous regions that confront frequent snow accumulation, should also regularly have their insulation inspected.
Unfortunately, with climate change causing severe weather events and rampant fires to break out all over the country, there are very few locations in the United States that have serene conditions year-round, making insulation inspections all the more important as we navigate these uncharted waters.
Be Versed in the Warning Signs of Poor Insulation
Astute homeowners should be able to quickly identify the warning signs of poor insulation. Some of the most prevalent include:
Insect infiltration - if you start noticing an influx of unwanted visitors into your home, it is a sure sign that your building envelope is compromised
Interior temperature fluctuations - one of the main functions of insulation is to prevent your home’s conditioned interior from responding to extreme temperature changes in the exterior. If you notice that your home is becoming increasingly responsive to the weather, it is a sure sign your insulation could be shot
Increased utility bills - for larger homes especially, you may not be able to directly feel slight changes in temperature. However, these minor shifts spread over thousands of square feet can really add up, so if you notice your monthly energy bills gradually ticking up, get your insulation inspected immediately
By nipping these problems in the bud and quickly calling an inspection professional, you can save money and protect your home’s building envelope from damage.
Look for Innovations in Insulation
There are also some situations where your home may already have decent insulation, but there is a better product that has recently hit the market. For example, if you know that your home is equipped with basic blow-in cellulose or fiberglass batts, you may be missing out on options that can better protect your home. In addition, there are some insulation materials that become toxic when they are introduced to fire and begin to break down, so you may want to insulate your home with a safer material. A great innovative option to consider over outdated, hazardous insulation products is MILEX Thermal Puffs, which provide elite protection against temperature fluctuations all while being safe and sustainably sourced.
The Bottom Line: How Often to Inspect Home Insulation
Most professionals recommend annual insulation inspections. If this is not feasible or you are relatively sure about the quality of your insulation, then an inspection every five years should be the absolute minimum standard. By perusing through the considerations listed above, you will be well-positioned to stay ahead of insulation issues and have your home inspected as needed!
Jackie Kaufman is a freelance writer that shares her knowledge and studies of construction and environmental sustainability industries. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her kids hiking the trails of Colorado where she and her family currently live. Jackie’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a new construction industry resource launching in Fall 2022.