The #1 Home Insulation Mistake (and How to Avoid It)

chicago roofing insulationAugust in Chicago means long, warm days filled with carelessness, laughter, a mug of craft beer, and a refreshing dip in the Lake Michigan. And yet inevitably the winter is around the corner, even though we may not be ready to welcome it just yet. For homeowners, winter also means heating bills, so taking care of home insulation becomes and important issue.

While some may start thinking of better ways to insulate their home solely because they want to reduce their heating bill, others may do so for variety of reasons; going green is a popular one. Proper insulation will ensure that you maximize the use of natural resources and don’t waste energy. Insulation is one of the most efficient ways to save energy at home since it keeps it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Regardless of how you arrived to the idea of better insulating your home, there a few things to consider. First, get your priorities straight. You can choose to insulate your roof, floors, walls, windows and doors. Most homeowners tend to equate proper insulation with taking care of windows, doors and, maybe, walls, making the biggest, costliest mistake from the get-go, which is ignoring their roof. This is by far the number one mistake when it comes to prioritizing insulation of your home!

The most important thing is the walls, since for a typical house the walls will lose around 30 to 40 per cent of heat. The roof comes in second place, accounting for approximately 25 percent of heat loss. Only then comes windows and doors with 20 percent, and finally, the floor, which accounts for the rest of heat loss.

Your roof is more exposed to outer atmospheric conditions than any other part of your home. Temperature fluctuations, wind and rain can damage your roof and dramatically decrease its lifespan. Even plants and natural human physiological activities (such as breathing and perspiring) are sources of vapor which contributes to condensation of humidity in space dividing elements.

Did you know that…

  • About 25% of the heat escapes through a roof
  • Heat/warmth losses cause higher building maintenance costs
  • Damp thermal insulation does not fulfil its function
  • If  the roof is damp, even more heat escapes through the roof, sometimes as much as 40%.

Proper insulation decreases heat losses and improves thermal stability of the building. The most important case is the protection of thermal insulation and roof’s construction from moisture.

Common sources of water vapor:

  • Weather conditions (Illinois is number 13 compared to other states in terms of humidity averages throughout the year; Alabama is the most humid and Wyoming is the least humid);
  • Plants;
  • Human activity.

Did you know that:

  • A sleeping person produces 40 – 50 grams per hour (g/h) of water vapor;
  • A person working around the house produces 90 – 200 g/h;
  • Cooking produces 200 – 250 g/h;
  • Taking a bath produces 1000 g/h;
  • Taking a shower produces 1,700 g/h.

When planning on insulating your roof, consider the following:

  • Protection of thermal insulation against the water vapor from living quarters as well as against the atmospheric moisture and rain;
  • Right selection of appropriate materials creating an efficiently functioning system;
  • Correct ventilation of loft rooms and thermally insulated roof slopes so it is possible to remove the moisture from them;
  • Proper execution of assembly work.

In the next blog post, we’re going to cover common roofing structures and which materials are crucial to proper insulation of your roof.