Crawlspaces and masonry walls are some of the most overlooked, yet most important spaces to insulate in a home or building. Unprotected, uninsulated crawlspaces and exterior masonry walls tend to generate mold, mildew, and contribute to reduced air quality and temperature fluctuations. This is because of their proximity to the outdoors, the ground and exposure to the elements. This will bring unwanted health implications for the building and its inhabitants.
For example, in the past, the common building practice was to insulate the floor above the crawlspace and to leave the crawlspace’s wall vents open. The theory was that any moisture buildup would vent to the outside, which we know now is not the case. Instead of expelling moisture (especially in climates with humid summers), the open vents allowed moist air in. As that air passed over the cool surfaces of the crawlspace, condensation was left behind, causing the development of various toxic situations such as mold.
Today, energy experts have a different prescription for crawlspaces based upon the idea that they should be part of the home’s conditioned space (the area that is heated and cooled). Energy Star identifies four areas of concern that must be addressed in order to properly protect and insulate crawlspaces: there must be moisture control, airtight construction (removing the potential for leaks or gaps that bring in outside air and water) and complete insulation coverage.
Masonry walls are the outermost walls (such as the brick layer) that provide the primary defense against elements like moisture. Masonry walls help prevent heat transfer and stabilize the temperature within a building.
With so many types of insulation available, it is easy to wonder what material is ideal for insulating your crawlspaces or masonry walls. Here are some factors that our team considers to be crucial when selecting crawlspace and masonry wall insulation:
Consider the R-value:
R-value measures insulation’s resistance to conductive heat flow, or its thermal resistance. Typically, types of insulation with higher R-values tend to offer more protection against the elements, including moisture that can lead to mold and eventual structural damage. Our team has found that an R-value from 12-21 is critical for helping to prevent the buildup of moisture. A high R-value insulation also helps to prevent the “trapping” of air, improving air quality and reducing heat loss and transfer from the home. Read Energy.gov’s complete explanation of R-values here.
Consider the reflectivity:
In order to reduce heat loss or transfer in your crawlspaces or masonry walls, it is essential to consider insulation that offers substantial reflectivity. Energy transfers in three different ways within buildings: by conductivity, convection, and radiation. While high R-values reduce conductivity and convection, they do not prevent radiation of heat. The Florida Solar Energy Project demonstrated that incorporating Radiant Barrier insulation, which prevents radiant heat loss and gain by reflecting 95-99% of radiant energy, can improve energy performance by up to 50%.
The All-In-One SMART-BARRIER® System
The ideal insulation for masonry walls and crawlspaces should provide both high R-Values and reflectivity. The SMART-BARRIER® Masonry Walls Insulation System by Ag Barrier provides an insulated vapor barrier system to address the needs of the hard-to-reach spaces in your home or building.
The SMART-BARRIER Masonry Walls Insulation system features two layers of patented Ag Barrier® white and foil product encapsulating 2”, 3”, 4” or 6” of traditional fiberglass batting for R-values ranging from R-12 to R-21. The Ag Barrier provides a 97% reflective radiant barrier while also acting as a vapor barrier and moisture barrier. The combination of materials in SMART-BARRIER insulation provides the best thermal performance and prevents unwanted moisture and temperature fluctuations from invading your living or working space. It comes with a lifetime warranty and is easy to install for both contractors and DIYers.
For any questions about insulation or to ask us about your project, please give our experts a call today at 800-825-0123.