Would You Like 3″ of Insulation with that?

I think everybody has experienced an upsell. Upselling is a time tested way to increase the size of the sale. And don’t we all love french fries. However, an upsell on insulation just might not be what you need. We are going to look at the issue of upselling insulation but first I have to make fun of companies that pitch insulation as part of some other upgrade. Get a new roof. “how about an extra layer of insulation while we are here?” Get some A/C work in the attic.  “let us add some insulation while we are here.”

Simply put, this is not a good idea, unless your attic has been retrofitted already to stop air leaks. Air leaks are a serious defect. Especially in the attic which can be cut up with lighting and plumbing chases and chimney chases. Many older homes have cut up ceilings from extensive remodeling. These add gaps through which air leaks gallop.

chimney chase diagram around block chimney

This look down vertical view  illustrates the chimney chase which provides the actual gap required between the ceiling joists and the brick fireplace chimney. This is a huge air gap and must be sealed properly to prevent air leaks of conditioned air. The actual joint configuration is trivial and not representative of actual construction. 

Adding insulation without solving the air leaks just makes it more difficult to solve the air leaks later, because insulation has to be moved to treat the areas leaking. More on air leaks here. Oh, and air leaks contribute to an unhealthy home. Like making people sick, and sick or unhealthy people sicker.

NOW LET ME CLARIFY

Selling up in this situation is good if there is a sound basis for implementation based in building science. Selling up for an air leakage test and sealing air leaks and adding insulation in the ceiling is good- is righteous work, helping, if administered as part of a professional energy assessment.

Home performance is a new term here – home performance relates to how much air your home leaks, how well it is actually insulated as per real measurements and building science. Seeing your home through “home performance” eyes, means understanding why your home has a problem with being too hot or too cold, or understanding your home might have a  moisture problem in summer through the principals of building science and not just time for a bigger A/C unit or a new dehumidifier. This is important… and you need to be able to separate the facts from the BS…. you have to pick out the contractor offering you home performance not “would you like some insulation with that”

That clarification made, I will go back and continue my bashing. The “add-on insulation with that” is becoming a staple in the services industry perpetrated by the big insulation companies- Owens Corning- they sell the blowing equipment to service companies and give them a deal and they can add on an easy “profit center” and you get the 3 inches of insulation and the shaft.

The proper application of insulation is important and there is an optimum level to the insulation you might need. If all these concerns are addressed, then maybe some insulation with your order of a new roof makes sense. But make sure it works for you and not just to creating a new “profit center”

Oh, and addressing the air leaks and lack of insulation at attic access door is critical move. Make sure you understand what is good for you, and not just what is good for improving profits for the service company. We will all small companies profits, but a profitable existence based on servicing customers actual needs.

Any questions, any comments, feel free to add them below.

Stu Langley

meet the author at StuLangley.com

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