Insulation and ventilation are necessary to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. For insulation to be effective, it must have proper ventilation. This may sound a little strange; after all, isn’t the point of insulation to keep outside air away? It is, but ventilation is necessary for the insulation to be effective. Here are three things you should understand about this unique relationship.
Insulation and Ventilation Work Together
There is plenty of information about how important it is to insulate a home. Cutting energy costs is the most common reason for using insulation, but some homeowners become so focused on maximizing the insulation that they miss the very important role of ventilation.
Proper ventilation, along with an appropriate vapor barrier, keeps insulation from collecting water. This is critically important. The fiberglass and cellulose of the insulating materials are designed to allow a lot of air space — that’s how insulation works. However, high humidity can cause that space to fill with moisture, reducing the effectiveness of the insulation. Good ventilation keeps the insulation dry.
It Can Be Difficult to Measure
One thing you’ll learn as you read up on insulation is that it must be used throughout the home. If you have gaps, the drafts will increase your heating and cooling bills. Less-reputable contractors may cut corners on insulation, knowing that the average homeowner will never notice.
A qualified home inspector has the training and equipment to assess a home’s insulation. With the inspector’s report, the homeowner or buyer gets the complete picture. Insulation that has shifted or was never present at all can be detected and the buyer or homeowner can choose what action to take.
Ventilation and Insulation Must Balance
A well-insulated attic may sound easy enough, but ventilation must be considered as well. Vents are needed in the soffit or ridgeline to help the attic “breathe”. If not, the hot or cold air is trapped against the ceiling, eventually penetrating the insulation and affecting the living space.
For every 500 square feet of insulated living space, there should be a square foot of ventilation opening. This allows the heat or cold to circulate out of the attic.
Good insulation and ventilation work together. A well-built home has the right balance of these two elements. When you’re buying a new home, an inspection is an easy way to determine if those standards have been met.
As you look at homes for sale or make plans for building a home, keep insulation and ventilation at the top of the list. You can change paint colors or upgrade flooring, but insulation is best when it’s done right the first time. Understanding how it works with ventilation will help you make smart decisions about construction or during purchase.