Optimizing Your Heating In A Converted Space With Careful Insulation Choices

Posted on: 5 July 2017


Creating an in-law space or an apartment for your adult child is a great way to make use of that extra room in your home. Unfortunately, if you're working in a space that's already constructed, you'll need to think about ways to improve the heating efficiency and insulation without completely disrupting the construction. That way, you don't create more work than is absolutely necessary. Here are a few different insulation options you can talk with your HVAC tech about that won't require demolition of the walls.

Cellulose Insulation

If you're looking to do the insulating on your own, loose-fill cellulose may be the best option. It's a form of blown-in insulation, so you make a small hole just below the ceiling and another one just above the baseboard to blow the insulation into the wall cavity. It's typically done using fairly low pressure, and you keep the density low so that it's loosely packed in the wall space. You can rent a blower from many of the local hardware stores, making it easy to do as a weekend project. The only downside is that since it's so loosely packed and you have no way to ensure that it distributes evenly, you may end up with some spotty areas that allow thermal transfer from outside.

If you like the idea of the blown-in cellulose insulation but you want a little bit more consistency to the fill, you may want to consider a dense-fill (also called dense-packed) insulation. It's applied in much the same way, except that it's blown in with greater pressure, which ensures that it not only packs more tightly, but spreads more evenly as well. This provides more consistent coverage in comparison, which may help you create a more energy-efficient and comfortable space. The downside is that, since it's applied with greater pressure, it's harder to do on your own. You're better off to work with your heating and insulation contractor to do it.

Fiberglass Insulation

Fiberglass insulation is another really common choice for homes, and you can opt for fiberglass instead. Loose-fill fiberglass is applied similarly to the loose-fill cellulose insulation except that fiberglass insulation actually spreads a bit more easily. As with the loose-fill cellulose, you can easily rent a blower to install the fiberglass variety on your own using the same steps. It's sometimes more expensive than the cellulose style, and it comes with the same risk that you may not get even, thorough coverage since it's fairly loose.

If you prefer the idea of fiberglass but don't want the inconsistency of the loose-fill, you can also choose dense-fill fiberglass insulation. It's important to remember, though, that fiberglass is naturally looser than cellulose, so you won't get the same density in your insulation filler even if you do choose a dense-fill application. That means you may still have some issues with thermal transfer and outside air passing through.

Foam Insulation

When you want an insulation option that's going to fill even the smallest crevices, you may want to consider injectable foam. Like it sounds, it's a foam insulation product that you inject directly into the wall cavity. As it's injected into the space, it expands quickly to fill the entire opening. It doesn't take long to harden, and once it does, you'll have a complete insulation barrier between the two walls. While you may be able to apply it on your own, it's not really encouraged. You have to be able to get a balance of how much foam is needed so that you don't inadvertently fill it too much and end up putting pressure on the walls. This can ultimately damage your heating ducts and cause cracks in your drywall. Ask your heating contractor about installing it for you so that you don't risk this.