Although pink is arguably one of the best colors, it’s not the best to have exposed pink foam board insulation in your attic or crawlspace areas for safety reasons. I recommend that you cover exposed pink foam board in your attic/crawlspace with a noncombustible material, or remove it if that’s impractical.
Exposed pink foam board insulation is combustible and could catch fire and creep up on unwary dwellers. Either take that stuff out, or get it covered!
Having pink foam board insulation in your attic or crawlspace does not mean that your home will undoubtably at some point catch fire. But because the possibility remains, I recommend you remove or cover pink foam board insulation.
Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.
This month, we learn about insulation issues with Brea Mason at Pacific Rim Insulation Inc. in Friday Harbor.
Q1: Attic insulation is priority No. 1 for homes (hot air rises after all!). There are lots of options for insulating attics (e.g., spray foam, blown-in fiberglass/cellulose, batten insulation, etc.). Can you please let us know some pros and cons in material choices and overall advice for insulating attics?
There are many different choices for insulating your attic spaces. If you have an existing house, with a nice clean attic and are looking to increase your insulation, I really like to use blown-in fiberglass insulation. It fills in all the gaps and cracks you may have and sets down a nice blanket to cover it all up. I think getting an attic to an R50/R60 provides great resistance from the outside elements in our area. On new homes you have many options, but we have been installing closed cell foam with batt insulation combo in quite a few homes. It makes your roof a non-vented system, so no worries that you don’t have enough air-flow behind your insulation.
Q2: What’s your favorite type of insulation and why?
My favorite type of insulation would be rockwool, or closed cell foam. Rockwool is so versatile, good for sound, gives you an R23 on exterior walls, is fire protectant, and is an overall very dense product—which means better resistance (or R-value). Closed cell foam is my other favorite because of the sealing power it has as well as its high R-value per inch (R6.9 per inch). On older houses with 2×4 exterior walls you get an R21 and 11 percent sheer power, so that is a win-win.
Q3: An amazing statistic is that up to 30% of heated air can be lost through a ceiling attic access hatch that isn’t insulated and weather-stripped. Do you have any high-impact recommendations homeowners can employ to improve thermal efficiency and save money?
I think a lot of people don’t know if their access hatch has any insulation on it at all. We always build a dam of insulation around the hatch and then install insulation to the back side of the access cover. You can hold the insulation with twine or you can cut a piece of rigid insulation and glue it to the back of the hatch. Weather stripping is so important! Around light can covers, electrical outlets and attic access hatches. We are always trying to stop the air from infiltrating.
If you are looking to save some money on utilities, a wise place to start is with insulation. A properly insulated home can save you coin and keep you warmer during the winter and cooler during the summer.
All of my inspections included poking around in crawl spaces and attics to check insulation levels. During a recent inspection of a home in Freeland, I came across a house that had adequate insulation levels in the attic, but portions of it were compressed (likely from someone walking on it).
I recommended my clients insulate these areas for improved thermal efficiency because compressed insulation can reduce the “R” value of insulation(lessening its effectiveness).
If you have questions or comments about insulation, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).
It’s always good to see homes that are well-insulated in crawl space and basement areas.
However, the types of insulation that homeowners use require different levels of care and awareness. One common insulation material is pink foam board insulation—which is combustible (as this highly unscientific video sort of documents, starting at 9:56).
I recently encountered exposed pink foam insulation while inspecting a crawl space in Mount Vernon. In my report, I recommended that it be covered with non-combustible material for safety reasons.
If you have questions or comments about insulation issues, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).
It’s important to insulate any and all exposed water supply piping- whether it be in the crawl space, attic, or garage- as freezing weather conditions can lead to breakage in unconditioned (unheated) spaces of the home. Water pipe insulation is readily available at hardware stores and is easily installed. This video was taken at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.
If a bathroom vent fan funnels into your attic, moist air from your hot, damp bathroom can eventually (and likely) form mold and mildew on attic rafters and sheathing —and even your attic insulation. A recent home inspection in Anacortes revealed this very issue.
Good news: There are a few different options for routing the venting to the outside of your home. A one-minute video by Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipforddoes an excellent job of explaining why this is so important, and what your corrective options are.
Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).
If you have insulation in your attic that looks like this picture, it may be vermiculite insulation. This type of insulation could contain asbestos. Testing for asbestos is outside the scope of the home inspection and requires laboratory sampling. Here’s a link (click HERE) to the EPA brochure with more information about vermiculite insulation. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
We all want our homes to be more energy efficient. And, with attractive rebate incentives from local utility providers to improve attic insulation, there’s little reason to not jump on board. In fact, priority #1 should be to air seal and insulate the attic. Why? Because hot air rises. You want to keep it in the house.
A few issues I commonly run into when inspecting older homes that have recently installed attic insulation are concerning. The most common is for insulation to be blown in around everything, including furnace flues. Clearance requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but at least one (1) inch, free-and-clear, is required of all. Insulation in contact with the chimney flue is a safety hazard and is all too commonly discovered. The second issue I discover is blown-in insulation completely restricting the roof’s soffit vents. By restricting attic ventilation, you run the risk of elevated moisture and humidity in the attic area. This can lead to moisture and insect related issues, together with the real possibility of structural problems down the line. The insulation contractor should install baffles (typically card board or styrofoam), designed to keep insulation away from the underlying soffit vents, and allow for free and unrestricted ventilation of the roof system.
So, yes, please have your attics insulated and brought up to prescriptive levels (typically R38). But, ensure that your contractor does it right and keeps your home safe. The simple installation of a sheet metal protective shroud around the chimney flues and soffit baffles will keep your home safe and properly functioning. Plus, you’ll enjoy substantially reduced heating bills from the increased insulation!
So, you’ve done the right thing in your crawl space and insulated water supply pipes. All is good, right?
Not so fast.
During a recent visit to a home on Lopez Island, I came across this unfortunate issue: copper water pipes showing substantial corrosion—such as calcification deposits—despite the fact they were tucked into insulation.
However, insulation is useless and even harmful when it displays signs of moisture intrusion. In this case, that’s the precise scenario I encountered.
The prognosis wasn’t good because the majority of the water supply piping was concealed behind pipe insulation. Therefore, much to my dismay, I had to recommend that all the water supply piping underneath the home be further evaluated by a qualified plumbing contractor to make repairs as deemed necessary. The only way to do that is to remove the insulation and take a look.
To learn more about protecting your pipes, Home Depot recently created a “how-to” video on the topic. Hope it helps you!
Questions or comments about plumbing or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).