Insulation and Ventilation
Insulation is an important element in the home's climate to maintain a warm environment in winter and cool environment in summer. Ventilation is an equally important counterpart to insulation in maintaining temperature efficiently. Insulation and ventilation work together to provide comfort, economy and durability within a home.
Types of Insulation
The most common types of insulation include fiberglass, cellulose, foam and rock wool. Regardless of the type of insulation installed, homeowners have been encouraged to increase the amount of insulation in the attic because typically it is the easiest place to put it.
Insulation Needs Ventilation
In the past, the science and symbiotic relationship between insulation and ventilation was not well understood. But it is now known that if the amount of insulation is increased, ventilation also needs to be increased, especially in the attic.
Moisture is produced inside the home by cooking, bathing, washing clothes and even breathing. Moisture can be mechanically exhausted from the bathroom, kitchen and other areas through the attic. In addition, moist air gets carried into the attic through holes in the ceilings and walls. Even small holes like those around light fixtures, receptacles and access hatches allow damp air to enter the attic.
If insulation and ventilation are in balance, then the relatively warm, moist air dissipates outside the home through vents. However, if the balance favors insulation, then the warm, moist air becomes cooler as it gets into the attic and can't easily get out. It tends to accumulate onto the coldest surface (typically the roof sheathing) and then mold forms. Not only is that a potential health problem for people, it also will cause wood rot.
Some types of vents may require periodic cleaning. And insulation may need to be inspected for rodents. But when they are installed and maintained properly, insulation and ventilation will last a long time.
It can be difficult to determine whether there is the proper balance of insulation and ventilation in the home. Periodic inspection of a home's insulation and ventilation by an ASHI inspector is important to ensure they are working efficiently. During an inspection, home inspectors check the visible insulation, ventilation and exhaust systems in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, as well as the attic and other accessible unfinished spaces, like a crawl space. A disconnected or misdirected exhaust fan from a bathroom, kitchen or laundry room can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy attic or crawlspace. While those issues usually are easy to fix, they first need to be identified.
Schedule a Home Inspection
Periodic inspection of the entire home is recommended every few years. Find an ASHI home inspector in your area to schedule a home inspection and improve your home maintenance.