As many of our Dayton area clients combat high energy bills and uncomfortable homes, wall insulation and air sealing is rapidly becoming a popular repair. Many older homes have less insulation than homes built today. Often wall insulation was commonly omitted for many homes in the Dayton area built through the 1950’s and into the early 60’s. Significant cost savings, tax rebates, and reduction of energy use is often realized through these repairs, however, sometimes these repairs can go awry through substandard workmanship and improper applications.
Insulation contractors appear to be actively pursuing the market of older homes. While most contractors are reputable, honest, hard-working people, there remain a few who perform less than stellar work or have employees whose attention to detail is quite lacking. When this occurs, it becomes quite apparent through unchanged utility bills and still uncomfortable homes that something is wrong.
Prior to the use of infrared thermal imaging, the only way to confirm that insulation exists or was installed was through destructive investigations. This included opening finished walls and/or removing electrical cover plates or trim boards to try and visibly verify. Now technology exists to quickly tackle this feat. Infrared thermal imaging is a quick and non-invasive method of determining existing insulation, R values, and completeness of installations. Under the skilled hands of a trained thermographer, homeowners can quickly discover details about a homes building envelope. Through measuring surface temperatures and converting them into a visual image, infrared thermal imaging can visually show homeowners issues such as missing or settled insulation, air infiltration, and heat loss. All of which contribute significantly to high energy bills and uncomfortable homes.
Ideally, homeowners should have an unbiased evaluation of their home performed prior to consulting with weatherization or insulation contractors. An unbiased survey can help determine where insulation is missing, marginal, or settled as well as discover air infiltration locations throughout the home.
With the information in hand, homeowners can then make an informed decision regarding the addition of insulation and air sealing as a feasible or justified repair. Once repairs are performed, a second survey is recommended for quality control purposes. Simply relying on the contractor’s word is often not enough as some unfortunate homeowners have already discovered.
The image above was recorded after repairs by the contractor had been performed. The homeowners were still experiencing high heating costs and uncomfortable rooms. A quick survey of their home revealed their suspicions to be true. The darker areas or voids seen in the walls are entirely missing insulation or have very little insulation installed. This image was repeated through out the home as a room by room analysis of the exterior walls was performed. A call to the contractor with the visible images in hand quickly resulted in an agreement to make things right without excuses.
As with any aspect of our lives incompetence, fraud, deceit, and quite often simple mistakes or oversights also exist in the realm of the weatherization industry. An unbiased infrared thermal survey can help reduce this risk while also assisting homeowners to make an informed decision to prioritize repair efforts and budgets.