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Old 10-10-2017, 04:05 PM   #1
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How do you measure existing insulation?


Is there a way of measuring insulation value in an old house (without demolishing walls)? I have areas in my house where "something is wrong" with a comfort level (either relatively cold or hot). There are no drafts, windows seem to be OK, central AC/heat are new - my next guess would be external wall and/or attic insulation.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:28 PM   #2
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Re: How do you measure existing insulation?


I do energy audits and find my infrared camera to be very useful at judging insulation levels. There are charts/graphs which estimate the r-value by comparing the inside surface temperature of an exterior wall to the surface temp of a wall well away from the outside one. This type of reading requires a hot or cold outside temp (I've only used cold days) to make this guess but a guess is better than nothing. If I have another wall with known insulation I compare.

The method without using an IR camera would be to inspect next to an electrical box to see what is in there, just be careful.

In addition to estimating the r-value the IR images will also give you a look at the entire wall allowing you to spot specific cold spots. I do this type of testing while I have my blower door fan exhausting air which enhances the cold signature where cold air is leaking in. You can use any window fan, bath fan to create that negative pressure. They also rent these IR cameras.

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Old 10-10-2017, 04:39 PM   #3
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Re: How do you measure existing insulation?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
I do energy audits and find my infrared camera to be very useful at judging insulation levels. Bud
Thanks Bud. I understand that the infrared camera would show thermal images with colored areas with higher / lower temperature. Based on that, would you be able to provide a recommendation - like on this wall we have spots not properly insulated, but the cost of re-doing that will never pay back vs. your south wall sucks as the estimated R value is around 8 while it should be 18 minimum.

Should the energy audit be done in any specific time of the year, e.g. in a first few cold (or hot days)?

Thanks again!
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:58 PM   #4
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Re: How do you measure existing insulation?


I was spoiled early in my energy work by doing IR inspections during cold weather so I have always avoided mild or warm temps. Images are just so much better. However, newer cameras and tricky energy auditors can handle the milder temps. When necessary I scheduled some of my work for early morning before the sun came up, followed by coffee and conversation, work can be fun.

Newer cameras will also take a digital image simultaneously when taking an IR shot, very helpful.

If you are handy you would do well with a good camera. Training is nice but I did a lot of work before I read the book.

As for an energy audit they can help you target your efforts (and dollars) to where they will do the most good. Again, if you are handy, this forum can guide you through basically the same steps. Here is a basic heat loss calculator where you can vary insulation values to see how much you can save.
https://www.builditsolar.com/Referen...d/HeatLoss.htm

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Old 10-10-2017, 05:05 PM   #5
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Re: How do you measure existing insulation?


How old is this house?
Rim joist ever been insulated?
What's in the attic for insulation?
Attic and crawl space or basement ever been air sealed?
If it's a crawl space or unheated basement is there any insulation in the joist bays?
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