What are the benefits of crawl space insulation?
Crawl space insulation is crucial for homes in cooler climates to keep the heat or cool air contained inside.
With crawl space insulation installed, heat won't escape into the ground and will stay trapped in your living space. Dirt, moisture, pests- all prevented by the installation of quality crawl space insulation.
Caliche can accumulate on floors without crawl space insulation which causes problems because it's basically sand mixed with water that creates a very acidic environment which causes everything from corrosion to complete failure of metal parts. Adding an encapsulating agent to the floor before installing material helps control this issue as well as making it easier to install hardy material atop this acid surface.
Alternatively, without any form of insulating barrier you're also putting yourself at risk of mold and mildew, rot, and even pest infestation. All very dangerous problems that can easily be prevented by installing crawl space insulation.
If you're unsure about whether or not you need it we recommend looking at this Infographic for a quick reference: https://www.crawlspacesolutions.com/insulation-benefits/. If in doubt definitely contact a professional to help you out!
Remember: the best time to install crawl space insulation is NOW before any of these issues arise!
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How does crawl space insulation work?
Insulation prevents heat exchange between two rooms by acting as a buffer. It also helps the heated air in the space you are occupying to remain warmer for longer.
Insulation is typically classified into four categories: insulation on the outside of your roof, insulation on the inside of your attic area, carpet padding, and crawl space insulation. If there's not enough thermal resistance within the building envelope - meaning walls, flooring etc are all cool - then applying more materials isn't going to make much difference because they won't be providing any benefit or comfort factor. Ideally, crawl spaces should have some form of reflective surface on them that bounces back at least some degree of radiant heating from them while insulating these spaces with fiberglass batts .
A Good Crawl Space Insulation System Contains:
Thermal Resistance or a resistance to heat transfer through a material. Maintaining space conditions in a crawlspace requires ventilation and insulation. When finished, the insulation should have an R-value of at least 18 per inch. This requires about R-38 in most cases.
Preventing Vapor Buildup
Keep in mind that vapor barriers are crucial for crawl space insulation. The building materials used in the crawl space are generally porous, allowing for moisture to soak into the surrounding earth. If your home is built on a crawl space instead of a basement, then this can be especially problematic since there 's little to no ventilation in a crawlspace. Moisture can also cause mold and mildew to grow, creating a serious health problem for anyone breathing the air from your home. A vapor barrier will prevent moisture from entering your house via the crawl space insulation, which is critical for preventing these problems.
Keeping Heat In
Insulation plays a huge role in keeping warm air inside your home during wintertime, but it's not going to do much good if it isn't installed properly in the first place. Insulating a crawl space is easy enough when you know what materials are necessary and how to put them together in a sound fashion.
To create an effective insulation system, make sure that you cover all of the surfaces in your crawl space with insulation. Use a full-sized vapor barrier, and fill all of the wall cavities between your house and the crawl space. Add R-30 fiberglass batts to the walls if you have them, or use spray foam insulation if they are empty. Use R-38 fiberglass on the floors, secure radiant barriers over any exposed ducts in the crawl space, and install an exhaust fan for ventilation purposes.
Crawl Space Retrofit
The main point is that instead of using one layer of material with no vapor barrier, you should be creating an entire back to front insulation system with a substantial amount of reflective surface placed near the earth surrounding your home. You can even apply this method to interior spaces as well but it can be expensive and time consuming.
The Vapor Barrier
As mentioned earlier, this is the most important aspect of crawl space insulation. Many old crawl spaces have no vapor barrier whatsoever, while others might have a thin sheet of plastic used only at one or two locations along the walls. If you do not already have a vapor barrier in place, be sure to install one over every surface before installing your insulation system. This means that the entire floor should have 1 to 2 inches of material placed on it, as should all of the walls around your home's exterior frame. Be sure that there are no gaps or tears in this barrier during installation - these can allow moisture into your house via the insulation itself!
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