Insulation is a key component to reducing energy bills. It helps keep temperatures stable and prevents equipment wear due to heat fluctuations.
Homeowners should have their insulation inspected at least annually. This can help reduce energy bills and reveal minor problems that could be costly to repair. Insulation can compact under its own weight, deteriorate or become damaged by moisture, mildew and rodents.
Your home is most heavily insulated in the attic, so your insulation inspection begins there. During the attic inspection, the inspector wears appropriate personal protective equipment including a hard hat, eye protection and a respirator mask. They will remove any housewrap that limits access to the attic and then look for signs of moisture, pests and structural damage.
If the attic is accessed through a hatch or pull-down stairs, they will check to ensure they are weather stripped and open and close properly. They will also assess whether the attic is adequately insulated and that it has sufficient ventilation to prevent moisture buildup and roof damage.
If the attic is not fully insulated, the inspector will recommend adding more insulation and may suggest a contractor to do so. They will also examine the condition of attic vents for water heaters, furnace ducts and chimneys, and ensure they are properly sealed. They will also look for recessed lighting and any electrical wiring in the attic.
While the attic is a prime location for insulation, it is not the only place to look. You can also find insulation in the walls of your home. This is particularly important in older homes or homes that have been built using steel-framed construction, as these may not have cavity wall insulation.
It is possible to check whether or not your walls are insulated without removing a baseboard. One method is to cut a small hole in the wall behind a closet or above a cabinet, then use a stud finder to locate the studs. The space between the studs should be filled with insulation, which can be confirmed by observing whether it has a fluffy or pebbly appearance.
Other methods include touching the wall to see if it is cold to the touch. However, this only works when there is a large difference between interior and exterior temperatures, and it is not a reliable method for diagnosing the type of insulation in your walls.
Insulation in the floors helps keep warm air in a home and cold weather out. Almost always, this is fiberglass batting but in some homes it is closed cell spray foam. This is typically installed under the floor between the living space and unheated crawlspace, garage or unfinished basement.
In addition to keeping the temperature comfortable in the winter, insulation also reduces energy costs by reducing the amount of heat generated inside the building envelope and thereby lowering the demand for a heating or cooling system. Insulation can save a home owner thousands of dollars over the life of the house.
Rough-in inspections must be conducted once the plumbing, electrical, fire protection and heating/ventilation/air conditioning rough in has been installed but before any wall, ceiling or roof framing is installed, and before insulation or drywall is placed. This inspection also includes the ducting in a concrete slab foundation.
Crawl spaces are common in residential construction and provide access to plumbing, electrical wiring and ductwork for heating and cooling systems. These crawl space areas can pose serious problems if they are uninsulated or not properly maintained.
Crawl space issues include moisture, wood rot and pest infestations. A home inspector should always inspect crawl spaces, including examining the floor joists, footings, girders and beams to check for any signs of damage or rotting.
Moisture problems often cause mold and rot in crawl spaces. Moist air entering the crawl space from outside can condense and build up on cool surfaces like water pipes and ductwork, creating a humid environment that promotes growth of mold, mildew and fungus and attracts insects such as termites.
Homeowners can prevent these problems by encapsulating the crawl space, which includes installing a vapor barrier and sealing all openings to the crawl space, such as foundation vents. This will prevent moist air from reaching the living space, saving energy and improving indoor air quality.