Insulation Terms: What Do They Mean?

When winter approaches, it can be easy to tell if your home is under-insulated with cold drafts, cold rooms, and cold floors. In most cases, you go to the web to search for help on what to do or what company to reach out to but it can get very confusing with so many different insulation terms. We’ve put together a list of common insulation terms you may see when you are searching about insulation.

  • Air Sealing:
    • Air Sealing is a source that eliminates leaks and makes the home more comfortable and efficient. We seal up a variety of places like your plumbing and wiring penetrations through the floors, walls, and ceilings.
air sealing the attic

Air leakage happens throughout the home as air slips through joints, cracks, and other openings. Because insulation does not stop air leaks, air sealing is very important. We then add blown-in cellulose insulation, it fills all gaps and odd-shaped voids.

  • Cellulose Insulation:
    • Cellulose Insulation is made from recycled materials that are ground into a fluffy, lightweight material. It is blown into areas like walls and unfinished attic floors that provide a much denser and more effective insulation layer than fiberglass.
Blown-in Cellulose Insulation

Cellulose insulation offers impressive versatility in terms of application possibilities. The small particles form an insulation material that conforms to most spaces without disturbing the structure or finish.

  • Fiberglass Insulation:
    • Fiberglass Insulation is made up of glass fibers. It usually comes in batts and rolls as this is a cheap form of insulation. Fiberglass is prone to mold and moisture issues and doesn’t fully insulate the home as it should be.
The fiberglass batt insulation was falling out of the sub floor.

The fiberglass batt insulation was falling out of the subfloor on this Central Iowa home.

  • Spray Foam Insulation:
    • Spray Foam Insulation is a foam that expands as it is applied. It outperforms all other insulation resistance to mold and moisture damage, durability, Air Sealing, and versatility. It provides an air barrier to wherever it is applied to help get rid of air leakage from the home.

In a typical Iowa home, the rim joist area is a large source of energy loss. The best material for insulating the rim joist is spray foam because it is resistant to water, offers superior R-value and seals the air leaks – all in one application.

  • R-Value:
    • We use the R-Value to measure how much insulation needs to be installed. It is a way to measure and understand the effective insulation value of a specific material. Each state has a minimum R-Value it needs to be at but here in Iowa, it is recommended to have an R-Value from 50 to 60.

Think of R-Value like a large winter coat. Winter coats do not actually make you warmer on their own, but rather they trap the body heat that you produce and make it harder for it to escape. Your body heat will simply disperse into the cold air without this additional obstacle.

  • Rigid Foam Insulation:
    • Rigid Foam Insulation is a unique insulation option that provides durability and insulating capabilities. It easily expands with graphite infused right into the foam while Air Sealing is done to the edges. This is the perfect insulation type for small spaces, attics, and the basement.

Rigid Foam insulation is popular because of its high insulating value, versatility, and durability. Air Sealing the cracks within the Rigid Foam provides your Knee Wall space fully insulated.

  • Stack Effect:
    • The Stack Effect is how we describe how the heat loss is in the home. Warm air rises and leaks out at the upper levels of your home, and the home sucks new unconditioned air in at the lower levels. This movement of air within your home can negatively impact the comfort level.
heat loss image iowa

The Stack Effect. Warm air rises and leaks out at the upper levels of your home, and the home sucks new unconditioned (cold, hot, damp) air in at the lower levels.

  • Ice Dam:
    • An Ice Dam is the result of snow that has repeatedly melted and refrozen. It is when the warm air inside the attic transfers to the roof and it melts the snow causing the melting snow to run down your roof freezing on the edges of the roof. As more snow melts and refreezes, the layer of ice continues to build creating an Ice Dam.
Heat loss and ice damming

Ice dams are formed when the snow melts and freezes to ice at the edge of the roof. A direct cause of ice damming is heat loss through the attic.

  • Blower Door Test:
    • A Blower Door Test is a calibrated fan that is set up in an exterior doorway with a computer attached to it. It changes the pressure within the house so that the home’s energy issues can easily be diagnosed.
Pictured is a blower door set up in a doorway.

Pictured is a blower door set up in a doorway.

  • Thermal Imaging:
    • Thermal Imaging is a camera we use for our Heat Map Evaluation. We use this to detect the areas of your home that are under-insulated. This device collects the objects in the picture and creates an image that shows the different temperatures. Red for warm and blue for cold.

iowa energy test

HSI Is The Solution To Your Home Comfort Needs

When you are searching for help on what to do with an underinsulated home, go ahead and reach out to a reliable contractor. At Home Solutions of Iowa, we offer custom insulation services. We provide the whole process starting with the Home Performance Evaluation. From there, we determine what type of insulation your Central Iowa home needs to provide you with the comfortable home you deserve!