How Spray Foam Can Help Architects

Best Insulation Solutions for Commercial Buildings

As an architect or builder, you want to be able to be creative and, at the same time, achieve the highest standards of insulation. That’s why spray foam is the premier choice for both traditional and non-traditional buildings.

Design Elements

Using state-of-the-art application tools, we at Superior Insulation Company can install spray foam easily in attics, cathedral ceilings and angles that may be challenging for traditional insulation materials. In addition, spray foam won’t allow shrinking or sagging, which can cause a building to lose its energy efficiency. In fact, spray foam is able to expand with the natural contractions of the building in changing temperatures. So you’re always energy efficient!

Commercial Buildings

At your company building, you certainly don’t want co-workers to be distracted, hearing each other through the walls while they’re trying to work. The good news is that spray foam can give you an 80% reduction in noise, which in turn, creates greater productivity.

A Greener Choice

The trend is toward more sustainable alternatives in insulation methods and materials. So it is nice to be able to promote the fact that you’re doing your part to help the environment. From another perspective, when you’re trying to run a company, it doesn’t help to have employees out sick due to severe allergies and asthma. These are more reasons to choose spray foam, because it provides a barrier to pollutants, including dust and pollen, which keeps your indoor air quality clean AND is environmentally safe. Icynene® Spray Foam is now more preferred because it has fewer VOCs, (Volatile Organic Compounds), toxins that can be released into the air.

In keeping with good air quality, mold has been known to cause a wide variety of illnesses. Spray foam is moisture resistant, which means it not only repels water, but as a result, eliminates mold growth in places where it can cause health problems.

Getting It Up To Code

Because of the frequency of natural disasters, the International Energy Conservation Code is calling for specific insulation requirements for each climate zone. You need to work with professionals who know the codes for your region of the country. Updated codes are also calling for more insulation, a rise in 6.6 percent a year. That’s why it’s important to work with contractors, like the ones at Superior, who know the codes.

Which Type of Spray Foam is Right for You?

There are two basic kinds of polyurethane spray foam: open-cell and closed-cell. Open-cell can be applied in metal buildings, duct work, walls, floors, ceilings and roof lines. Closed-cell foam can be applied to all of these areas too, along with additional places like swimming pools, exterior storage tanks, and water lines.

At Superior Insulation Company, we are experienced working with commercial buildings like schools, healthcare facilities, retail businesses, churches, manufacturing plants, office buildings, military bases, multi-family houses and more.

Superior Insulation Company is an ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America) Certified Insulation Contractor. We’re available for consultation to discuss your insulation options. Talk with us today!

Where is heat loss happening in your home?

Greatest Sources of Heat Loss in Winter

When the fall days and nights get chillier, and with winter right around the corner, now is the time when many homeowners check to make sure they’ve done everything to ensure their homes are safeguarded against heat loss and that they will keep everyone warm and cozy—as well as energy efficient.

The truth is, even if you have the best insulation already in place, there are several areas of the house that are notorious for heat loss or letting warm air escape.

Unfinished Basements

Some homeowners ignore their unfinished basement, writing it off as the coldest room in the house. But do you realize how much heat you’ll lose if there’s no insulation? If you have a concrete floor—concrete is known as a bad insulator—with cinder block walls, that’s the R-value equivalent of particle board! While it’s not energy efficient to insulate the ceiling of the basement, it is a good idea to insulate the walls. An important note: Just because you don’t feel the cold, doesn’t mean you’re not losing money by having your heat source running more often than it should.

Crawlspaces

There is the old saying that “heat rises.” However, this principle doesn’t work when it comes to crawlspaces. And here’s why: Heat always moves from warm to cold. The greater the difference in temperature, the faster the heat will move. So, for instance, if your crawlspace is thirty degrees colder than the main living areas of your house, the warm air will move faster out of your living areas. In homes without basements, if the floors are cold, that’s a sure sign that you need more—or better—insulation.

Windows

We’ve mentioned it before—there’s an approximate 10% loss of heat through windows. With doors, it can be as much as 11% heat loss. For those DIY-ers out there, gaps around windows can often be taken care of with a few good supplies at home improvement stores. Caulking and weather stripping products are quick fixes. Weather stripping materials come in rubber, vinyl, foam tape, and even metal. These products are sold by the foot or in kits.

Air-Conditioning Window Units and Other Areas

Fall is the time of year to remove air-conditioning units from windows. If you can’t remove them, it’s best to seal around them with caulk or get a window insulation blanket to be more effective.

Other culprits for heat loss include laundry ducts, vents and plumbing pipes—not always the first things homeowners think of when air is escaping from their home. Spray foam insulation, which we recommend, is excellent for getting around these tricky, hard to reach areas and expanding to close every gap.

This fall, be sure to prepare your home for the colder months ahead. If you have questions about how to insulate your home properly, keep checking our blog for more tips. When you’re ready to have insulation installed, contact the professionals at Superior Insulation Company for a consultation today.

Summer Solutions: Why Spray Foam Insulation is the Cooler Choice

The dog days of summer are certainly here, and your air-conditioning is probably running non-stop. Remember, proper insulation won’t just trap cool air inside, it will keep it inside.

Did you know that 90% of single-family homes are under insulated? If you want to keep temperatures comfortable while saving on energy bills, the professionals at Superior Insulation Company recommend you talk with us and let us replace or add a more cost-effective insulation option for you. We highly recommend Icynene® Spray Foam, and if you’ve been reading our blog, you already know many of the reasons why. This summer, as your fans or air-conditioning units are running, take a look at the difference spray foam can make for you.

What is Icynene Spray Foam?

Icynene is an air barrier, which means it prevents the flow of air in and out of your home, whether it’s hot air in the summer or cold air in the winter. It expands when it’s sprayed, so it doesn’t require as much to achieve the same dense level of effective insulation material necessary for most living areas.

Whether you have a new home or are renovating your existing home, Icynene Spray Foam adheres to most substances: wood, concrete, steel. Icynene seals walls, floors and ceiling cavities against air movement. This includes spaces around light fixtures and electrical outlets, as well as the places where walls meet windows and doors. Places where traditional insulation may be tricky are no match for spray foam.

Spray Foam is Water Resistant

Another advantage of spray foam insulation is that it repels moisture, which eliminates the growth of mold. Not all insulation products can claim that. For those who suffer from mold allergies, this is an especially nice benefit. Did you know that Icynene spray foam is even rated as being a flood resistant material by FEMA?

Spray Foam is a Greener Choice

If you’re concerned about environmentally friendly products, spray foam is a greener alternative to traditional insulation, such as fiberglass. Spray foam can improve the quality of air inside your home. Homeowners who have asthma, allergies or chemical sensitivities will find spray foam to be a better choice. Here’s how it works: Spray foam is able to form a barrier that cannot be penetrated by pollen, dust and other pollutants. Because of this barrier, spray foam is able to resist the infiltration of moisture, as mentioned above, which prevents mold growth.

While the cost of spray foam is a little higher than some of the less effective choices, it does help to protect your family in the long run, which is worth it. Remember, products such as fiberglass could contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde. If you go with fiberglass, please consult with professionals who can install it safely to reduce the risks of exposure.

It’s Not Always What, but WHERE You Apply Your Insulation

Effective insulation isn’t only about what materials you use, but where you install it. Some of the most important places to apply insulation are:

  • attic
  • exterior walls
  • basement
  • overhangs
  • floors above garages
  • crawl spaces

The professionals at Superior Insulation Company will work with you to ensure your home has the most effective, cost-efficient insulation for your needs. We do recommend Icynene Spray Foam because it has proven to be the best. We can also install a variety of other products based on your specific needs. Contact us today and let us go to work for you this summer!

Superior Insulation Company is an ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America) Certified Insulation Contractor.

Surprising Facts about Insulation – 4 Things You Didn’t Know

Whether your home is older or newer, insulating with the right materials in all of the right places is key. In our blog, we provide advice and guidelines for many of the insulation issues you may struggle with. Today we’re focusing on some facts you may not have known about.

1. Insulation isn’t only about controlling temperatures.

When you think about insulation, normally you first think about the control of air flow. You want your home to be warm in winter and cool in the summer. Insulation works primarily by sealing up air leaks that are the number one culprit in wasting up to 40% of heating and cooling energy. So while insulation does work to ensure comfortable temperatures in your home, it also serves other purposes. It prevents moisture and insect—and other pest—infestations.  Homeowners who live in flood zones will want to make sure they choose insulation materials that resist moisture, such as spray foam. At Superior, we recommend spray foam for a variety of reasons including this. It also discourages pest infestations because it contains no materials that would be a food source for rodents and other unwanted guests.

2. If you go solar, skylights aren’t necessarily the answer.

For those homeowners who want to go green, you may have thought about installing skylights to reduce heating costs. But these can actually take a lot of energy. If you’re in a room that has a skylight, it can feel like a furnace. To avoid hot, uncomfortable rooms, consider tubular skylights in some of your interior rooms. They reduce energy loss, and actually perform better than skylights.

3. Sometimes it’s not about the insulation, but the structure and position of your house.

When you’re getting ready to buy a house, check beyond its aesthetic attributes. Notice the foundation. Is there a way for rainwater to drain away from the house? If not, it’s likely to cause flooding, particularly in the basement. There are some things you can do, such as installing gutters or adding extensions to downspouts to prevent this. Also, if you’re concerned about drafty rooms and energy efficiency, notice the orientation of the house. The ideal is to have the long axis running east to west with several windows along the south wall, with storage or darker rooms to the north. Whatever the house, pay attention to the way it’s situated and take note of where natural sunlight will flow in. When there’s plenty of light in a house, you’ll have automatic solar heating.

4. Insulation is not a DIY project.

Even though you may see pictures on the Internet of people with goggles trying to blow insulation into their attic, this is not a wise move. Although there are times when you can caulk or seal around windows and doors yourself, installing insulation is better left to professional contractors. They will know all the proper safety precautions to take, while you may accidentally put your family at risk, blowing chemicals around, into the living areas inside your home. Professionals will also know how much of a particular insulation material to use. For example, with spray foam, a little goes a long way. Not as much is required to achieve the desired density, whereas other materials like fiberglass require more. As a homeowner, the smartest thing you can do is to rely on the expertise of contractors who have worked with all types of homes and buildings—from residential to commercial—and who have years of experience. That’s what you can expect from the professionals at Superior Insulation Company.

Superior Insulation Company will work with you to identify the best products and methods for your insulation needs. Contact us today for more information.

Superior Insulation Company is an ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America) Certified Insulation Contractor.

Top Spots to Insulate in Your Home – 4 Must-Do’s

We talk a lot about the benefits of various types of insulation. However, it’s equally important to make sure you’re covering the spots to insulate – the areas that are most vulnerable to gaps and cracks, as well as moisture. Here are the four most critical spots to install insulation. This is only a sampling, and you’ll want to check with a professional contractor who will discuss other areas that may need insulation as well.

Attics

This literally is a “hot spot” in your house because attics are notorious for being very hot in the summer. A good contractor will inspect this area, among others, in your home and check for cracks and condensation. In addition to removing anything that may cause mold, be sure you don’t vent dryers or bathroom fans up in your attic—vent them outside. When insulating the attic, keep these things in mind: For an unfinished attic, you’ll want to insulate between and over the floor joists to keep it sealed off from the living areas below. For a finished attic, whether or not there are dormers, you’ll want to insulate between the studs and rafters of the exterior walls and roof. Again, professional contractors will walk you through the process of where the insulation should go to be most effective.

Basements

This is typically a “cold spot” in your home—cold and damp and musty. If this sounds like your basement, you’ll want to install or replace your wall insulation. If cost is an issue, it’s less expensive to insulate the interior walls of your basement, rather than the exterior. Whichever way you decide to go, the goal should be to reduce heat loss and prevent moisture. If you’re using traditional fiberglass insulation, it should never be placed directly against a concrete wall, as this invites mold and mildew. Spray foam is a better choice for moisture resistance here and in other areas of your home. If a constant musty odor or flooding are issues, get back to basics and take a look at your house’s foundation. To divert water away from your home, make sure the land around your house is graded, so water won’t run down into the basement. The installation of gutters is another helpful preventative measure to reduce the chances of flooding.

Windows

Warm air often escapes around your windows. If your house is older and still has its original windows, you’ll want to replace them with more energy efficient ones. If there are cracks and gaps around them, you can sometimes seal these up yourself. Some people will make this a DIY project, sealing any cracks or gaps around the window frames with caulking or putty.

Doors

One of your home’s biggest enemies is the gap under the door, which lets air in, not to mention pests. Cracks on the sides of the door should also be checked.

Other Places to Insulate

Of course, these are the most common areas. But a good contractor will help show you the places where air can easily escape. Some of these places include crawl spaces, duct work, rooms above an unheated garage, and any place that may be vulnerable to leaks or moisture infiltration.

At Superior Insulation Company, we will consult, advise and install the most efficient insulation for your home’s needs. Call on us today.

Superior Insulation Company is an ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America) Certified Insulation Contractor.

7 Signs That Your Insulation Isn’t Working

Know the Warning Signs!

Do you need more insulation? Or better insulation? Odds are, if your home was built prior to 1970, it’s a good rule of thumb to re-insulate. However, there are other signs to check for that will let you know if new or more insulation is needed.

1. Trouble in the Attic

If you detect moisture in your attic, or there’s water coming through your ceiling, you’re likely to have insulation problems. Or when you feel colder inside your home during winter months, this also points to inadequate insulation in your attic. The recommended amount of insulation in your attic is usually about six inches. You should consider also adding insulation to the access door to your attic to keep out drafts. While attic issues are very common in older homes, they can be present in newer homes as well. So it’s always a good idea to check the attic!

2. Out of Control Energy Bills

You think you’ve done everything you can to keep your house running efficiently. But your bills continue to rise, which can signal that your insulation is failing you. This, combined with something else you may notice—your air-conditioner and furnace run more often. This summer, is your AC going constantly? If you turn it off, does it suddenly feel like the desert in your house? Cooling and heating systems are necessary to maintain a consistent level of comfort in your home, but they shouldn’t be working overtime. So, if these two indicators—high energy bills and nonstop AC and furnaces—are present, usually your insulation is to blame.

3. Not Such a Winter Wonderland

Remember last winter? Did you have giant icicles hanging from the roof of your house? Contrary to popular belief, these are not pretty. They are signals of something more sinister that can threaten to ruin your roof and gutters. Here’s what happens: Heat rises, so when your attic and roof aren’t insulated well, the attic gets very warm in the winter. If your attic is insulated sufficiently, the heat will escape out through vents, but if your insulation is inadequate, the heat will go to the top of the roof and melt the snow up there. Because the roof edges are cold, the melted snow (water) will drip down toward the edge of the roof and freeze. This is called an ice dam. If you have ice dams, you’ll want to contact insulation professionals to replace your insulation immediately.

4. Hot and Cold Rooms

If your living room is a sauna, and your bedroom feels like the Arctic, this is a major red flag. It happens because not all of your insulation will necessarily fail you at the same time. Some rooms may be perfectly comfortable, while others suddenly are not. Remember, it’s not okay to feel drafts in certain rooms, especially if you believe your house is well insulated. If you feel one drafty room, it’s a good idea to check and see if there are others. Check the walls of interior closets to see if they are cold. You may never have noticed it before. If you’re lucky, only certain rooms will need new or additional insulation, and the rest of your house may be fine. If any of the walls are cold, be sure to let your contractors know. Good contractors will know to use as much insulation as they can fit between outer walls and the drywall.

5. The Condition of Your Current Insulation

This one may be obvious, but if your insulation is crumbly, outdated and wouldn’t meet today’s building codes, you’ll need to replace it. If you know that the insulation is old, don’t take matters into your own hands. Consult with professionals. The reason is simple—sometimes it’s best not to disturb older insulation, as it may contain toxic chemicals like asbestos. In these cases, professionals will apply new insulation over the existing insulation. If it’s safe to remove, let the experts remove it properly to eliminate any danger.

6. Cracks in the Wrong Places

If you spot cracks around your doors and windows, this could be an easy, do-it-yourself fix. If they’re small cracks, apply some caulk to seal them. There’s no complex test for figuring out if you’ve solved the problem. Simply place your hand on the area to see if you feel any drafts. Whatever you do, don’t let these go unchecked. Sometimes a few cracks are all it takes to let enough cool air or heat escape that results in super high energy bills.

7. A Place for Pests and Moisture

Last but not least, if you spot any mice droppings or other indicators that pests have infiltrated your home, this could seriously compromise the integrity of your building structure. Insects and other pests can eat away at what is called “the building envelope.” Another danger is moisture, which can cause some kinds of insulation to collapse when they become damp. This will create gaps that invite air through the building as well.

Superior Insulation Company is an ABAA (Air Barrier Association of America) Certified Insulation Contractor. We’re available for consultation to discuss your insulation options. Talk with us today!

The Right Way to Insulate Your Basement

The Do’s and Don’ts of Basement Insulation

The basement is one of the most important areas of your home to insulate properly. It’s often the most musty smelling, draftiest room in the house. But it doesn’t have to be. The goal of basement insulation is to control the temperature and keep mold and mildew out. Here are some guidelines for achieving these goals:

Get rid of that musty smell

Many basements smell bad. It’s such a common problem, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The reason for this is that most basements have concrete walls, and concrete is notorious for absorbing moisture. This creates that musty odor that many of us know all too well.

Before you install insulation, first check that you don’t have a more serious moisture infiltration problem. If you see any water on the foundation on a normal day, you may need to put in a drainage system first.

Understand your basement insulation options. Sometimes the most popular basement insulation products aren’t always the best. For example, fiberglass batts cost less than other types of insulation, but aren’t the best choice for insulating a basement (see below). A batt is basically a roll or blanket that’s made of fibers like wool or fiberglass. There is also rigid foam insulation, which is more expensive, but more effective, than fiberglass. They come in sheets or panels of extruded polystyrene or XPS. One to two inches of rigid foam will be a solid moisture deterrent. Keep in mind that XPS is a flammable material, so you’ll need to install a thermal barrier—a half-inch of gypsum board should do the trick.

Be cautious about using fiberglass insulation. It’s not recommended that you apply fiberglass insulation directly to a concrete wall. If you must use fiberglass, there needs to be a space between the insulation and the wall. If not, the place where the insulation touches the concrete will be overtaken by mold and mildew. Remember, fiberglass does NOT resist moisture, so it’s generally a no-no when insulating basements. You can reduce the risk of moisture issues if you first cover the concrete with a continuous layer of rigid foam or closed-cell spray foam. Then contractors may install a wall on the interior side of the foam insulation and put fiberglass batts inside the stud bays. While this is better than applying fiberglass directly to concrete, it’s even better to use closed-cell spray foam to insulate your basement.

Consider the benefits of spray foam in your basement. Closed-cell spray foam is the best way to insulate concrete basement walls. This is because it can achieve a higher R-value, along with excellent moisture resistance, with less thickness required. It can fill in all the gaps and spaces thoroughly, giving you the best protection against moisture and air infiltration. It’s a more expensive option, but you’ll save money in energy bills, not to mention the cost of doing damage control after mold and mildew are already serious problems.

Choose whether to insulate the interior or exterior walls. Do you want to insulate your basement walls from the inside or the outside? Usually, insulating the outside occurs when a house is first being constructed. Exterior wall insulation is considered the best choice for optimum energy efficiency, too. However, interior insulation is easier and more cost-effective for many homeowners. If your basement has already been constructed but is still unfinished, it’s a more practical choice to insulate the interior.

Keep in mind, both approaches work well and depend on what’s most important to you. For example, if you insulate the exterior walls, you’ll have more space inside the basement. When you insulate the interior walls, you’ll be able to have an uninterrupted connection between the below-slab insulation and the wall insulation. If you’re building a new home, interior wall insulation also works better with the construction schedule. All of these factors are important to consider when planning your basement insulation.

We recommend that you don’t undertake a project such as insulating areas of your home without consulting with professional contractors. There are many potential pitfalls to doing it yourself. When you call on experts, you can avoid unnecessary expenses from trying to fix mistakes, and you can feel secure that you’ll have it done right the first time.

At Superior Insulation Company, we’ll be happy to talk with you about all of your insulation needs. We are your partner in smart residential, commercial or industrial insulation. Contact us today to get started.

Top 7 Insulation Mistakes

Avoid These DIY Disasters!

Many do-it-yourselfers take on projects that are far more complicated than they realize—until it’s too late. When it comes to insulating your home or place of business, we highly recommend that you contact professionals who can do a quality job that fits your needs and your budget to avoid these insulation mistakes.

If, however, you’re still planning to do a DIY project, or you’re regretting the DIY project you’ve begun, here are a few mistakes to avoid.

1. Installing the Wrong Insulation

In previous blogs, we’ve talked about different types of insulation, and what works best for different things. For instance, not every type of insulation can be installed everywhere. For example, some insulation is highly flammable and cannot be installed near water heaters or furnaces. Also, don’t install fiberglass insulation in damp locations such as basements, because it can hold moisture and potentially lead to mold growth. Instead, it’s best to go with a spray foam that resists mold when insulating your basement. When in doubt about what insulation materials to use, contact professionals who can help you.

2. Leaving Too Many Gaps

One of the biggest problems DIY homeowners face is leaving too many gaps in their insulation. Gaps or insulation that isn’t secured correctly can leave the building structure open to air and moisture leaks. Spray foam insulation is best for reaching into small cracks and any areas left open. You can also use caulk on very small openings.

3. Insulating around Lights and Vents

As mentioned above, most insulation material is flammable, so you have to be careful when installing it around lights or vents. The rule is to leave at least three inches around each light fixture clear of insulation unless your light fixtures are rated for contact with insulation. It’s also not wise to wrap some insulation around electrical wiring. Icynene Spray Foam can be installed around electrical wiring, but it’s best to have professionals install it. Keep insulation away from vents and water heaters to avoid a combustible situation as well.

4. Not Preparing for Your Insulation Project

Be sure to have proper safety equipment, such as face masks if you’re installing insulation material yourself. While Icynene Spray Foam greatly reduces the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the air, you still need to be careful, whether you’re dealing with fiberglass or chemicals. That’s another reason to call on professionals when your family’s safety is at risk.

5. Not Following Instructions

For example, fiberglass insulation comes with a backing that helps protect your home from condensation and rot. It’s called a “vapor retarder” because it resists moisture penetration. It is important to install this to the proper side of the building. This facing should always be installed with the facing towards the warm side in the winter. Installing this incorrectly could cause moisture building within the home. For this reason, be sure you understand how to properly install the insulation!

6. Removing Old Insulation

Most of the time when you’re doing a DIY insulation product, you would not remove old insulation unless there is a mold problem. Some older types of insulation may contain asbestos and release toxic particles into the air. This is why they are better left alone. Instead, if you want to install new insulation, you should add it to your existing insulation assuming that is acceptable to the manufacturer of the new insulation. Some types of insulation cannot be installed over old insulation. This is another reason why it’s always good to have a professional address your insulation needs. But again, don’t remove what’s already there if you’re not certain what kind of insulation it is!

3. Taking Shortcuts to Save Money

It’s best to use higher R-value insulation products because they will be better at keeping heat or cool air inside. They may cost a little more than lower R-value products, but you’ll save on energy bills in the long run. Also, don’t cut corners by not using enough insulation. In this case, more IS better, because a thoroughly insulated house or office building will be able to maintain a more comfortable temperature as long as the air leakage is addressed. Adding R-value doesn’t help when you don’t stop the air. That’s why using a product like Icynene that’s also an air barrier is so effective.

Keep checking our blog for more tips and information about how to save money on your energy bills.

Superior Insulation Company is your partner in smart residential, commercial or industrial insulation. Contact us today to get started.