It’s easy to get caught up in the nuts-and-bolts, brick-and-mortar aspects of home inspection. Because yes, the actual structure of your house is obviously very important. But that’s not all I’m looking at.
There are various non-structural aspects to your home that nevertheless make a big difference in the overall viability of the structure. One of those aspects is insulation.
Attic insulation—especially in southwest Florida—can make or break a home’s livability, for a number of reasons. I’m looking for both the type of insulation used, how old it is, and the quality of the installation. Both of those variables make a big difference in how comfortable the house is, how high the power bills are, and even how long your AC system lasts.
Ultimately, I’m looking at how well the home’s insulation keeps the Florida heat out, and keeps your AC’s cool air in.
Types of Insulation
There are several options when it comes to insulation in the attic. As always, paying more for the good stuff will probably be a good investment that saves you money in the long-term.
There are four primary types of insulation to choose from, from most expensive (and generally most effective) to cheapest:
- Spray foam
- Fiberglass (loose-fill)
- Fiberglass (batts)
Spray foam is a chemical mixture that must be installed by a professional. Loose-fill fiberglass and cellulose are two different types of materials that work in similar ways. Fiberglass batts are the easiest to install but also the lease effective
The effectiveness of the installation is almost as important as the type of insulation used. As mentioned above, fiberglass batts are easy for DIYers. Some folds will just pick up a bundle at the hardware store, drag them up to your attic and unroll them there.
Unfortunately, that kind of one-size-fits-all approach is rarely great. Batts tend to leave a lot of gaps. So the money you save one the purchase and the installation will almost immediately go out the window when you see your summertime power bills.
The loose-fill solutions are a decent middle-ground. You can install them yourself, though you will probably need to rent a specially designed blower. Once you generate a significant-enough layer of insulation throughout your attic, you can count on loose-fill insulation to do a pretty good job keeping the heat out and the cool air in.
Of course, the solution that is most effective—spray foam—is also most expensive and requires professional install. But if done right, spray foam fills in every nook and cranny, making it an excellent option for your home’s insulation.