Old Homes and Insulation

Whether you’ve inherited an older home or purchased it, there’s a chance that it may not be insulated. It wasn’t until 1996 when the ABCB (Australian Building Codes Board) released the BCA (Building Code of Australia) that home insulation in Melbourne changed. The BCA’s requirements for insulation stated that the R-value of your house had to meet a particular value depending on your climate. Before this, it was not uncommon for homes to lack insulation. If you’ve recently acquired an older home, then you should immediately check if it has insulation. Today’s blog will be dealing exclusively with how to do this.

There are several things you can look out for when determining whether or not a house has insulation. The most obvious way is to physically check behind the walls or in the ceiling. But, before you go putting holes in the house or ripping up the floor, there are some other techniques that you can try out.


Sudden drafts

Insulation’s primary job is to slow the flow of hot air – but there are other factors that it affects as well. One of these is that it stops unwanted drafts from entering the house. Stand around different spots of the house and try to feel for drafts near floors, walls or ceilings. If you feel anything, then there’s a lack of insulation.


Inconsistent temperatures

You may find that some rooms in the house are drastically cooler or warmer than others. Turn off all your heating or cooling units, close all windows and doors – and just stand in each room for a bit to determine this. Another way to do this is to use a smart thermometer or temperature sensor to accurately gauge each room and whether or not there is a noticeable change.

Other than the rooms themselves differing in temperature, try checking the surfaces. Whether this is the walls or the floor, you may notice an unusual temperature emanating from them. This is another sign that insulation may be lacking from the home.


Vermin problems

Most insulation – such as glasswool – is resistant to vermin and small insects. They’ll repel them, essentially dispelling them from your house. If an older house is not insulated – or poorly insulated – then you could find signs of vermin between your walls or feeding off things they shouldn’t be.

Small rodents may even be able to enter through the gaps that insulation would otherwise be closing. As a result, respiratory issues may occur if vermin and rodents are allowed to live and wreak havoc in your home. When checking an older home for insulation, be sure to wear appropriate protective gear such as a mask.


A more direct approach

The above methods are indirect and don’t require a whole lot of hands-on work. At some point, though, you’ll have to just check with your own eyes to see whether or not the older home has insulation installed. Start in the ceiling and work your way down. Wear old clothes and appropriate protective gear – goggles, gloves, long-sleeve shirt, breathing mask and kneepads (if it’s a crawlspace) – and head up into the ceiling. Inspect the joists. Look for actual insulation products and if they’re appropriately installed. Insulation should fill out the entire joist.

Once you’ve checked out the ceiling you can move onto the walls. The easiest and non-intrusive way of doing this is to turn off the electricity and remove the powerpoint panels one at a time. Use a torch to look around inside the wall. If there is insulation, then tear a small piece off so you can determine whether or not it is the same material as the one used in the ceiling (assuming there was some in the ceiling).

This is done so you know if the same material was used throughout the whole house. Repeat this process for the other powerpoint panels. If all the insulation is the same, then you can assume that the whole house has the same type of insulation. With underfloor insulation, it may get a bit harder. Depending on the type of floorboards you have, you can gently raise them up with a chisel to check your insulation. You can also – if there’s room –underneath your house and check that way.


Do you need insulation for your Melbourne home?

Insulation Essentials are Melbourne’s premium insulation experts. Whether you need insulation for your new Melbourne home or retrofitting an older one – our experts are happy to help. We stock a vast range of insulation batts and rolls with varying R-values in our store.

If you’d like to know more about what insulation services we can provide to you, then please give us a call on 03 8339 7111. You may also get in contact with us by filling out the enquiry form on our website.