Advanced Home Renovation Visualization Tools

Methods of inspecting for insulation

“NOTES TO THE NEIGHBORS”                                                                     December 2016





I hope that my house maintenance tips last month were helpful to you; here is some more useful information for you. If you have any misc questions or need my services, feel free to email me ----


This month I will cover some common methods of inspecting for insulation.


A simple hand held laser surface temperature device can assist in locating areas with a lack of insulation. A more thorough tool for locating insulation and weatherstrip deficiencies is an infra red camera. One of these two devices may be the best method to help you to determine if your home requires more insulation or if it is missing all together.


Feel around the interior casing of your windows and doors. If they are drafty  it is likely that no insulation is present. Remove one piece of the interior casing around your window or door and you will see if the insulation is present between the jamb and the rough opening studs. If it is missing do not stuff fiberglass insulation in the cavity. I highly recommend using low expansion window and door type spray foam insulation. If you use the wrong spray foam it will over expand. This will prevent windows and doors from opening. The big chain hardware stores will have this material. It usually comes in a blue container. This foam is far more effective at preventing drafts than fiberglass insulation. This material fills every crack and void to keep the cold out. When using spray foam, do not fill the entire depth of the cavity. It will expand more than you think. Let it cure dry to the touch, trim off the excess material with a utility knife, and then re-install the interior casings. It cleans up with mineral spirits while it is wet.


If your floor is always cold, the weather seal around the entrance doors is likely missing or in poor shape. You can tune up the door by adding new jamb z weather strip and rubber sweep seals to the bottom. In most homes the rim joist at the top of your basement walls is a single 2 x 10 with no insulation on the inside. This is an extreme leak spot for cold and heat transfer. Older construction methods did not seal the mud sill to the foundation the way it is done these days. It is recommended to install or spray insulation in the joist bay against the outer rim joist. Take the time to caulk along the top of the block to the wood rim joist. This makes a very noticeable difference to the temperature in your basement and along the outer edges of the floor on the first level above the basement.


Do your walls have adequate insulation? You may be able to check without pulling off wall coverings. Remove one of the electrical outlet plastic covers on an exterior wall. You can usually see right in the wall around the edges of one of them.

Another method is to pull off a piece of baseboard and cut out a small opening to look into the wall.  Feel for drafts or hold a candle and watch if the flame is flickering from a breeze. Usually if insulation is lacking in one exterior wall, the other walls are done the same. One exception could be a room addition which may be insulated better because it is newer. If the insulation looks good and you still feel drafts, look on the outside to see if there are any areas where caulking is missing or cracking. Insulating existing walls is an invasive task. The most common way is to bore out holes either on the inside or outside and blow fiber or cellulose insulation into the wall cavity. Some insulation companies force liquid foam into the holes to insulate the wall.


A well insulated house will pay you back in energy savings and comfort. It is fairly simple to determine if more insulation is needed.


Happy Holidays!

Jim Houghtaling C.R.4311                                                                  


      Renew View Custom Trim LLC

Stands for Quality Craftsmanship”