With the winter months approaching, you'll want to keep your energy costs low and your home warm. One of the best (though often overlooked) ways of doing this is by insulating your crawl space. Insulating under your kitchen or lounge floor helps prevent you feeling cold in the morning while also keeping a few extra dollars in your pocket.
The method and materials you use will depend heavily on the design of your crawl space and whether or not it is ventilated. Installing insulation in your crawl space is generally a straightforward job and can oftentimes be carried out as a DIY job over the course of a weekend or two.
Types of Crawl Space Insulation
There are a number of options available to you, the most common of which are:
- Wood fibers.
- Paper fibers.
- Foam sheets.
Each of these materials will be sold in blanket form; usually in rigid sheets that you can attach to the walls and ceiling. Your choice of insulation material will generally depend on whether you are insulating the surrounding walls of the crawl space or the ceiling.
How Crawl Space Insulation Works
No matter which material you opt for, the underlying concept remains the same. Each of these materials work like blankets on your bed, trapping air near the source of heat and acting as a barrier to stop air escaping. Heat tends to radiate out and upwards from its source; by installing insulation, you prevent this process from occurring.
The performance of insulation is generally referred to as the 'R value'. This value refers to the flow resistance of the material (how well it traps air). The higher this value, the more efficient your insulation material is. This is generally noted as a non-dimensional parameter, meaning that the R value has not been calculated based on insulation thickness. As such, you can directly compare two materials and opt for the more energy efficient product.
Where to Install Crawl Space Insulation
The two main places you can insulate your crawl space are around the exterior walls or underneath the ceiling. In the majority of cases, it's better to insulate the walls. This is because more heat escapes from these areas, and by protecting against this heat loss, you dramatically increase the energy efficiency of your home.
Whichever material you choose will have to be cut specifically to fit the geometry of your crawl space. You should extend the lower extremity of your insulating sheet to extend onto the floor by a few feet. This will stop any gaps in insulation from acting as 'hot spots' (or cold spots) where heat can escape.
As insulation essentially traps the heat within your crawl space, you will likely experience some condensation on the floor. If left untouched, this can cause mold to form, particularly if the area is very dark and warm. To prevent this, you should install a vapor barrier on the floor to catch any condensation. Note that this is only effective if your crawl space is dry all year round. If it isn't, you'll have to insulate under the flood.
When insulating under the floor, make sure you insulate all pipes and ducts within the crawl space. If you don't, your pipes can easily freeze over and burst during winter. Typically, fiberglass is a good material for pipe insulation, although you can also use reflective materials to keep the floor warm during the cold season.
Although installing insulation is generally a straightforward job, you may come across some particular difficulties that need professional help. In such cases, you should contact a local building contractor with experience in this area in order to carry out the work on your behalf. Visit this page for more information.