Autoclaved aerated concrete and autoclaved cellular concrete masonry units have 10 times the insulating value of conventional concrete. Blanket insulation -- the most common and widely available type of insulation -- comes in the form of batts or rolls. It consists of flexible fibers, most commonly fiberglass. You also can find batts and rolls made from mineral rock and slag wool, plastic fibers, and natural fibers, such as cotton and sheep's wool.
Batts and rolls are available in widths suited to standard spacing of wall studs, attic trusses or rafters, and floor joists: 2 inch x 4 inch walls can hold R or R batts; 2 inch x 6 inch walls can use R or R products. Continuous rolls can be hand-cut and trimmed to fit. Batts with a special flame-resistant facing are available in various widths for basement walls and other places where the insulation will be left exposed.
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A facing also helps facilitate fastening during installation. See the table below for an overview of standard and high-performance medium-density and high-density fiberglass blankets and batts characteristics. This table is for comparison of fiberglass batts only. Concrete blocks are used to build home foundations and walls, and there are several ways to insulate them. Field studies and computer simulations have shown, however, that core filling of any type offers little fuel savings, because heat is readily conducted through the solid parts of the walls such as block webs and mortar joints.
It is more effective to install insulation over the surface of the blocks either on the exterior or interior of the foundation walls. Placing insulation on the exterior has the added advantage of containing the thermal mass of the blocks within the conditioned space, which can moderate indoor temperatures. Some manufacturers incorporate polystyrene beads into concrete blocks, while others make concrete blocks that accommodate rigid foam inserts. In the United States, two varieties of solid, precast autoclaved concrete masonry units are now available: autoclaved aerated concrete AAC and autoclaved cellular concrete ACC.
Autoclaved concrete has ten times the insulating value of conventional concrete. The blocks are large, light, and easily sawed, nailed, and shaped with ordinary tools. The material absorbs water readily, so it requires protection from moisture. Fly ash is a waste ash produced from burning coal in electric power plants.
Hollow-core units made with a mix of concrete and wood chips are also available. They are installed by stacking the units without using mortar dry-stacking and filling the cores with concrete and structural steel. One potential problem with this type of unit is that the wood is subject to the effects of moisture and insects.
Concrete block walls are typically insulated or built with insulating concrete blocks during new home construction or major renovations. Block walls in existing homes can be insulated from the inside. Foam boards -- rigid panels of insulation -- can be used to insulate almost any part of your home, from the roof down to the foundation. They are very effective in exterior wall sheathing, interior sheathing for basement walls, and special applications such as attic hatches. They provide good thermal resistance up to 2 times greater than most other insulating materials of the same thickness , and reduce heat conduction through structural elements, like wood and steel studs.
The most common types of materials used in making foam board include polystyrene, polyisocyanurate polyiso , and polyurethane. Insulating concrete forms ICFs are basically forms for poured concrete walls, which remain as part of the wall assembly. This system creates walls with a high thermal resistance, typically about R Even though ICF homes are constructed using concrete, they look like traditional stick-built homes.
ICF systems consist of interconnected foam boards or interlocking, hollow-core foam insulation blocks. Foam boards are fastened together using plastic ties. Along with the foam boards, steel rods rebar can be added for reinforcement before the concrete is poured. When using foam blocks, steel rods are often used inside the hollow cores to strengthen the walls.
The foam webbing around the concrete-filled cores of blocks can provide easy access for insects and groundwater. To help prevent these problems, some manufacturers make insecticide-treated foam blocks and promote methods for waterproofing them. Loose-fill insulation consists of small particles of fiber, foam, or other materials. These small particles form an insulation material that can conform to any space without disturbing structures or finishes. This ability to conform makes loose-fill insulation well suited for retrofits and locations where it would be difficult to install other types of insulation.
The most common types of materials used for loose-fill insulation include cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral rock or slag wool. All of these materials are produced using recycled waste materials. Cellulose is primarily made from recycled newsprint. The table below compares these three materials. Some less common loose-fill insulation materials include polystyrene beads and vermiculite and perlite. Loose-fill insulation can be installed in either enclosed cavities such as walls, or unenclosed spaces such as attics.
What Does Cellulose Insulation Look Like?
Cellulose, fiberglass, and rock wool are typically blown in by experienced installers skilled at achieving the correct density and R-values. Polystyrene beads, vermiculite, and perlite are typically poured. The Commission issued the R-value Rule to prohibit, on an industry-wide basis, specific unfair or deceptive acts or practices. R-value ratings vary among different types and forms of home insulations and among products of the same type and form. For loose-fill insulation, each manufacturer must determine the R-value of its product at settled density and create coverage charts showing the minimum settled thickness, minimum weight per square foot, and coverage area per bag for various total R-values.
This is because as the installed thickness of loose-fill insulation increases, its settled density also increases due to compression of the insulation under its own weight. Thus, the R-value of loose-fill insulation does not change proportionately with thickness. Unlike most common insulation systems, which resist conductive and sometimes convective heat flow, radiant barriers and reflective insulation work by reflecting radiant heat. Reflective insulation incorporates radiant barriers -- typically highly reflective aluminum foils -- into insulation systems that can include a variety of backings, such as kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard, as well as thermal insulation materials.
Radiant heat travels in a straight line away from any surface and heats anything solid that absorbs its energy. When the sun heats a roof, it's primarily the sun's radiant energy that makes the roof hot. A large portion of this heat travels by conduction through the roofing materials to the attic side of the roof. The hot roof material then radiates its gained heat energy onto the cooler attic surfaces, including the air ducts and the attic floor.
A radiant barrier reduces the radiant heat transfer from the underside of the roof to the other surfaces in the attic. To be effective, it must face an air space. Radiant barriers are more effective in hot climates, especially when cooling air ducts are located in the attic. The reduced heat gain may even allow for a smaller air conditioning system. In cool climates, however, it's usually more cost-effective to install more thermal insulation.
What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like? - Barrier Insulation Inc
For this reason, cellulose insulation is considered an eco-friendly home product. In this second type, moisture introduced into the spray helps the cellulose stick to the wall. With loose-fill insulation, however, the cellulose is dry. To fill finished walls, holes are drilled in the plaster or drywall to permit access of the blower nozzle. For attics, cellulose insulation is blown in parallel to the joists. It can be used by itself to fill in joist cavities that have no insulation or laid as a thick layer over the top of existing batts of fiberglass insulation.
How to Tell the Difference Between Cellulose and Asbestos Insulation
With cellulose, eco-friendliness is a debatable issue. However, the remaining 15 percent, which includes the borate treatment, is less-than-green because it is a chemical treatment. Fiberglass insulation may use recycled materials, as well. Owens-Corning, one of the biggest names in fiberglass insulation production, reports that it uses between 53 and 73 percent post-consumer recycled materials. So the green advantage of cellulose insulation may be less significant than it is sometimes portrayed.
With closed walls, you have few other choices but to blow in insulation. Unless your home is going through some remodeling where the walls are being opened up, holes need to be bored into the walls and insulation injected. Here, the traditional favorite is blow-in cellulose insulation, although spray-in foam is becoming steadily more common. With open walls, you can install fiberglass roll insulation, although spray-applied foam insulation is also possible. For attics, the joists are often open and accessible and thus could be insulated with either blow-in cellulose or fiberglass batts.
However, because of obstructions such as wires and just because of its sheer ease , cellulose insulation is often blown into attics, as well. Cellulose insulation's source paper in its raw state is combustible. Concerns have also been raised about ink residues in cellulose insulation. In recent years, soy-based inks have gained in popularity.
With these inks, oil made from soy beans replaces the mineral oil; the carbon black is still the same. The primary concern with inks has always been colored inks, which were traditionally made with toxic heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. By that time, she said, the health hazards of lead and other heavy metals were well known and NAA then the American Newspaper Publishers Association banned their use in newspaper inks. John Comerford at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State University has studied the safety of using shredded newspaper as animal bedding.
He found no detectable levels of 16 different hydrocarbons in blood and liver samples. Of the metals cadmium, copper, lead, and mercury, only copper was found in measurable levels. Insulation expert David Yarbrough of Oak Ridge National Laboratory dismisses most of the concern surrounding toxicity of cellulose.
Potential combustibility of cellulose insulation has long been an issue of concern, given the inherent combustibility of its primary raw material. As mentioned, various chemicals are added to provide fire-retardant properties. The biggest concern with these chemicals—all of which are readily water-soluble—is that they might leach out or somehow dissipate from the insulation over time.
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Concern has been particularly great with borates.