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Do It Yourself Home Energy Audits - Inspect Your Insulation




Hi Itchy,

Bought a home a couple of years ago. It's about 20 years old and I'm suspecting it's probably lacking insulation in some areas. How do I determine if this house is up to code and if I need to add more insulation?

Jamie K.

This is a big one. You need to make sure your entire home is properly insulated. Let's get the worst over first. Grab a light, ladder, ruler, goggles, dust mask and coveralls and go ahead and crawl into the attic.


1. Measure the depth of the insulation, where it's fiberglass batts or loose fill insulation. You'll need to contact your local county or parish building department to determine the recommended r-value required for your neck of the woods. You can visit my article regarding measuring attic insulation for more information.

2. Take a look at your ventilation while your up there. This may require some bellying around. Make sure the vents aren't cover with insulation and that they are properly baffled. If you have any recessed ceiling lights make sure they aren't covered as well. This could be a fire hazard.

3. Vapor Barrier. Some areas require a vapor barrier. That usually consists of plastic sheeting laid over the attic floor or the kraft paper on the backside of fiberglass batts. This is important as too much moisture can cause damage up there.

4. While your having fun up there make sure to check out any water pipes and duct work. These should be wrapped with insulation.

5. Finally, when you're ready to leave the check the attic hatch. Does it have a fiberglass batt attached to it? If not you're losing money. It should also be weatherstripped.


Ok, my man, don't take off your outfit yet. You're about to have even more fun. Grab your light and jump on into the crawl space. Again, this may require you to belly around so feel free to cuss as needed.

1. Are the ducts and  water pipes insulated?

2. Is the under floor or foundations walls insulated. If not and if it is required in your area than you should consider taking care of it. There are articles on this website that will show you how to insulate crawl spaces.

3. Is there a ground cover laid over the entire crawl space?


1. Check the depth of the wall insulation to make sure it is up to code. Detailed instruction are in my article relating to measuring insulation in walls.

Chances are very good that you will need additional insulation if you live in a older home. Like I said above, contact your local building department before conducting your home energy audit to determine the insulation requirements for your area.

Step Four: Inspecting Your Heating And Cooling System

Related Articles:

How To Detect Air Leaks
How To Inspect Your Lighting Systems
Checking Out Your Heating And Cooling Equipment
Are Your Appliances Energy Efficient?


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