What Are the Signs of Poor Insulation?

In winter

  • Walls are cold to the touch
  • Floors are cold
  • Heating costs are high
  • Heat is not evenly distributed throughout the house
  • Mold growing on walls


In summer

  • Air is too warm inside
  • Air conditioning costs are high
  • Air conditioner is inefficient
  • Mold appears in basement

How Do You Determine the Effectiveness of an Insulating Material?

The R-value and its metric equivalent, RSI, are used to rate the effectiveness of insulating materials. The higher the R or RSI, the more the material in question is resistant to the movement of heat. Insulation products sold in Canada are rated R and RSI. Provincial building codes require R or RSI minimum coefficients for new buildings; values vary depending on applications. It is important to know the building code requirements for your area when planning a construction project.

Note: Proper insulation installation is very important to ensure its effectiveness. Compressing the insulation, leaving air spaces around the insulation or gaps in it will reduce the real value of the insulation.

What Are the Most Effective Insulation Systems?

Effective insulation systems slow the movement of heat and restrict the movement of moisture at a reasonable cost. To do this requires:

  • An air barrier that prevents air from getting through from inside or outside.
  • Well filled cavities that leave no gaps in the insulation or around it and where the insulation is not compressed.
  • Minimal thermal bridges, i.e. points in the wall where there is a low R-value extending from the hot side to the cold side of the insulation, allowing the heat to escape easily. The structural elements in walls often create thermal bridges.
  • A vapor barrier, such as a polyethylene membrane, to prevent moisture from moving from warm interior spaces to the colder outer building envelope, where it could condense.
  • A drying potential, or the insulation system's ability to release any moisture that gets in.

Is It Worth It to Insulate?

A good insulation system can save you money, reduce energy consumption and make your home more comfortable. Remember however that the installation (including changes to the framework, the siding and finishing) is usually what costs the most. Local climate conditions should also be taken into account to determine how profitable it is to insulate.

You will need to evaluate the costs, taking heat losses and gains into account for all possible options. Then, review the details of how to control moisture movements. You can then choose the right insulation strategy. When in doubt, consult a specialist.

In the final analysis, it is usually profitable to improve the insulation of a poorly insulated house. In new construction, it makes sense to properly insulate the building so it does not have to be done again later.

What Are the Indications of Noise and Sound Transmission?

To better understand whether you need soundproofing, you first need to determine the level of noise at your residence. Noise is measured in decibels. A jet plane is about 110dB, a loud conversation is around 60 dB while a refrigerator produces 40 dB.

The goal of soundproofing is to achieve maximum reduction of the noise likely to disturb our sound environment. First, you have to identify the source of the noise: is it an impact sound like footsteps, or the sound of voices? Sound is a bit like water. If there's a weakness somewhere, sound waves or vibrations will leak through it.

The Sound Transmission Class (STC) is the ability of a partition to stop the passage of airborne noise. The 2005 building code requires an STC of 50 for walls between adjoining residences. This is not always enough.

What Materials Are Used for Better Soundproofing?

To soundproof a room or apartment, there are some basic principles to consider before undertaking the work: mass, uncoupling, and the drum effect. We need insulation material of a certain mass, because the heavier it is, the more it insulates.

Second, uncoupling prevents rigid contacts from propagating vibrations from one place to another.

And finally, the drum effect must be prevented through the soundproofing design of the walls and floors.

You can choose among several approaches and dozens of materials available on the market.

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