When your home insulation starts to wear out, you’re in for problems. Some of those problems are nuisances — a drafty house, for example. Others can hit your wallet in the form of high energy bills… or they may even threaten your health, thanks to rodents, allergens, and mold. So how do you know if your home insulation needs to be replaced? Let’s start by looking at the specific type of insulation inside your house, and then we’ll turn to the factors that can weaken insulation (and the signs that something’s wrong).
What Kind of Insulation Do You Have in Your Home?
Different types of insulation have different lifespans. Do you know what kind of insulation you have in your house? If so, use these average lifespans as a general timeline for replacement:
Spray Foam (Polyurethane Foam)
Spray foam insulation is one of the most durable, effective, and reliable forms of home insulation. It can last a lifetime or longer. Because it is mold resistant and does not hold moisture, it doesn’t move around and typically stays put until physically removed.
Many people never have to replace their spray foam insulation. But if inclement weather, critters, construction, or other factors have compromised your spray foam insulation — or if you are experiencing problems — you may need replacement or repair.
Fiberglass insulation is a popular choice because it is both effective and cost-effective. Unless damaged, it can last 80 to 100 years in most houses before it needs to be replaced. However, insulation can start falling from fiberglass batts after 15 to 20 years, so if your insulation was installed in batts well over a decade ago, it might be time for an inspection or a home energy audit.
Cellulose insulation is eco-friendly and more effective at blocking air than some other types of insulation. Some studies have even shown that cellulose insulation can help to protect your home in a fire.
Because it is made primarily of recycled materials, however, cellulose insulation does degrade over time. The typical lifespan is 20 to 30 years, with degradation beginning as early as 15 years after installation.
As with other types of insulation, severe weather or outside interference can reduce the lifespan.
Note: cellulose is often used as supplementary insulation. So even if your home is primarily insulated with other materials, if cellulose is present, you can start to feel the effects of aging insulation as that material degrades.
Mineral Wool Insulation
Increasingly popular, mineral wool is a fairly durable form of home insulation. While the lifespan will depend on the specific product used (e.g. glass wool, slag wool, rock wool, etc.), mineral wool insulation can generally last for several decades before needing replacement.
As with other forms of insulation, however, damage or the presence of other compromising factors (see below) can dramatically shorten the lifespan of any mineral wool insulation.
Much like cellulose, mineral wool is often used as supplementary insulation and may require replacement even if longer-lasting materials are in place elsewhere.
It’s important to know your home’s history. Older houses may be using very old or low-quality insulation, or they may have had their insulation improperly installed. As a general rule, the longer a house has been standing, the more likely it is that your insulation has been compromised and needs to be replaced.
Factors That Can Compromise the Lifespan of Insulation
No matter what type of insulation you have in your house — and no matter how long a lifetime it is guaranteed — no insulation is perfect or invincible to harm.
Any of the following factors can significantly diminish your insulation’s lifespan and make replacement more imminent:
- You have had water damage to your roof (e.g. leaks, blown-off shingles, etc.).
- There is mold growing on the insulation (which can happen without you realizing it).
- The insulation has been punctured (by a storm, an animal, during the moving process, etc.).
- The insulation is beginning to get dirty or dusty. (Dust can slowly accumulate on top of insulation, making it less effective over time.)
- Your home has endured a severe weather event or fire.
- Your home is older, and you suspect the previous owners may have used shoddy materials or installed the insulation improperly.
- The insulation was installed using “batt insulation” (in which the insulation begins to fall out after 15 or 20 years) or “loose fill insulation” (which can settle over time, leading to air leaks).
9 Signs That Your Home Insulation Needs to Be Replaced
Suspect a home insulation issue but still aren’t sure if replacement is required? Here are nine ways to know if your home insulation needs to be replaced:
- The temperature in your house is uneven (changes often).
- You have a hard time getting your house to the “right” temperature and then keeping it there — it’s always too hot or too cold.
- Your whole house is drafty.
- Certain rooms in the house have a draft (often a sign that your crawlspace insulation needs to be replaced).
- Your energy bill is too high.
- Someone in your household is suffering from frequent allergies or illness. (Aging, damaged, or improper insulation can be a breeding ground for mold, allergens, and bacteria).
- You are dealing with frequent leaks, condensation, or other moisture issues.
- You are having a problem with rats, mice, raccoons, squirrels, insects, or other pests or rodents.
- The insulation itself appears to be wet, thin, shifting, breaking down, or falling.
Schedule a Home Energy Audit in Denver or Fort Collins, CO
Do you suspect it’s time for your insulation to be replaced? We can help you figure that out and then recommend the right type of replacement for your home and budget.
Alternatively, are you experiencing any of our nine signs of improper insulation but are confident your insulation isn’t the problem? (Because you’re in a relatively new home, for example?) It could be that something other than insulation is causing your problems and running up your energy bill.
REenergizeCO is a Colorado-based home energy efficiency company that helps homeowners increase their comfort, decrease their energy bills, and prolong the life of their home.
We encourage you to contact our office and schedule a home energy audit.
Whether you need to replace your home insulation or pursue a different solution, we’ll make recommendations without any obligations whatsoever.
The process is relatively quick and easy, and it can make a big difference in your daily life and monthly budget. Learn more about a home energy audit in Denver, CO and contact our office to schedule yours today.
We are here to answer any questions homeowners may have about home insulation, energy audits, and solar power.Contact Us