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- Efficiency Maine
January 14, 2020
(more than just ice dams!)
The insulation hidden in the walls, attic, and crawl space of your Maine home is meant to keep you and your family comfortable throughout each season by preventing unwanted temperatures from infiltrating your home, while keeping the temperatures you do want inside your living space.
But insulation is one of the quieter “heroes” of your overall home performance, and it can be difficult to know when your insulation is compromised. Here are the top clues to look for that indicate your insulation may be lacking -- as well as what you can do about it after you’ve recognized the issue -- from Evergreen Home Performance, the home efficiency experts here in Maine.
Inconsistent Room-to-Room Temperatures
When the walls of your home are properly insulated, they will keep the conditioned air from your heating and cooling system in the rooms that air is delivered to. When wall insulation is lacking, a room’s conditioned air will seep out to the outdoors or into other areas of your home. This leads to rooms that are colder in the winter (and warmer in the summer) than the rest of the home.
Is that room above the garage notoriously hard to keep comfortable? Is there one room you find yourself dragging a space heater into during a frosty winter day? It may be time to check the insulation in your wall cavities.
If you are experiencing differences in your room to room temperatures, you are likely also feeling drafts inside your home. While the term “heat rises” is commonly known, there is much more to that phrase. Heat will move to wherever there is less heat. So if you have a living room that is nice and toasty, but a bedroom that is poorly insulated and cold, the heat from the living room will make every attempt to move to the cold bedroom. The indoor draft you are feeling is the air that carries that heat between the two!
This can happen between the rooms of your home, between the floors that separate each level of your home, and between the outside air and your living space.
Ice Dams & Inconsistent Snow Melt On Your Roof
Did you know that icicles on the edge of your roof are a common indicator that you may be at risk of ice dams? But that isn’t all. Ice dams begin underneath your roof, where poor insulation causes the heat from your home to rise up to your roof shingles. This heat melts snow accumulation on your roof; the meltwater drains to colder areas, where it re-freezes and develops into an ice dam. The now-formed “dam” prevents future melted snow from properly draining into your gutters or drainage system, and the moisture eventually finds its way under the shingles, into the attic and other areas of your home. When moisture is allowed to infiltrate this way, it can cause further damage to your remaining insulation and the materials that make up the construction of your home. As well know, water is no friend to wooden rafters, fascia, studs and wall plates, and when the damage is caused by ice dams it can remain hidden for a long time.
Moisture, Mold, and Pest Issues
One sure-fire way to permanently damage insulation (and specifically damage commonly used fiberglass insulation), is getting it wet. If you have had any kind of moisture issues in your home, like ice dams* on your roof and in the attic, or ground moisture leaks in your basement or crawlspace, your insulation is likely damaged and is no longer providing the insulating properties you need to keep your home comfortable. Plus, when moisture lingers in your insulation materials, it is prone to mold growth — which can spread into your breathing air, potentially causing health issues for the inhabitants of your home.
Pests are also known to use the warmth of insulation as a cozy home, or in some cases a food source. They especially love fiberglass insulation, but thankfully detest our preferred insulation product, cellulose! Pests that like fiberglass insulation include:
*Speaking of ice dams, attic insulation is the lesser-known--but most effective-- solution for ice dams!
Have you gotten used to getting up on those frigid winter mornings, and putting on your L.L. Bean slippers because the floors of your home are icy to the touch? This symptom of under-insulation can be caused by a lack of insulation underneath your floors, but is more commonly due to a lack of insulation throughout the basement or crawlspace.
At Evergreen, we see this issue time and time again — addressing the insulation and air sealing is the best way to insulate a basement, and can provide results almost immediately, as we saw in this 19th Century Deering Center Home!
From Southern Maine to the Midcoast: Evergreen Your Home
If you experience any of these signs of poor home performance, or you're looking for ways to lower your heating bills this winter, it may be time to “Evergreen Your Home”. Not sure if your insulation is up to par? Schedule a state of Maine energy audit and get the answers you need!
Our team of insulation pros here in Maine can remove your old insulation, help you choose the right insulation materials for your unique needs, and help calculate your insulation costs by giving you an insulation quote. We specialize in installing cellulose insulation, mineral wool insulation, spray foam insulation, and Thermax rigid foam insulation.