Waterproofing Your Home: Vapor Barriers, Thermal Insulation, or Both?

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how thermal insulation works

Looking for a way to help waterproof your home? Good news! You can browse a vast catalog of waterproofing solutions. The difficult part of the process, in most circumstances, is selecting which of the available waterproofing solutions you’re most interested in.

Take thermal insulation and vapor barriers, for example. These waterproofing measures work in similar ways, but is one better than the other?

The Benefits of Thermal Insulation

Most homes that have been standing for a while will likely have been insulated upon their construction. If you’re building a new home, though, or are concerned about the state of your existing insulation, you can take the opportunity to replace yours with insulation that waterproofs your home.

Some of the most common materials used for thermal insulation include:

  • Fiberglass
  • Mineral wool
  • Cellulose
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Polystyrene

The materials mentioned in the list above will help keep water out of your home, some better than others. While fiberglass is one of the more commonly known and used materials, it can easily get saturated with water and become a breeding ground for mold and pests.

Some contractors – like Mount Valley Foundation Services, for example – use rigid panels made of an expanded polystyrene foam insulation infused with graphite to improve its insular ability. This is the better option as it has a higher R-value and it is energy efficient, and it resists water, pests and mold.

When you can rely on your insulation both to keep your home warm and your crawl space dry, you can more readily move on to other projects.

That said, what should you expect when installing new insulation throughout your home? More often than not, you can request the services of a contractor working out of the Charlotte, NC, area. To install your thermal insulation as safely and effectively as possible, local professionals will:

  • Wear protective materials, including a ventilator mask and gloves.
  • Measure the spot you want to insulate to determine its surface area.
  • Place soffit baffles over your vents.
  • Prepare the insulation.
  • Place the insulation along the walls and floor of your work area leaving essential features unimpeded.

Note that these steps may vary if there’s something wrong with your crawl space. Most contractors will conduct an initial inspection of your crawl space before determining how best to install your insulation. If they need to compensate for previous damage or work around existing obstacles, this process may be more lengthy or complex.

It’s important to have a plan in place for eventual insulation replacements. Thermal insulation that pulls double-duty as a waterproofing measure and a home warmer can suffer damage in the long term, especially if it isn’t treated to resist water, pests, mold, and mildew. Talk with your contractor about the timetable you’ll need to keep your insulation on and when the best time to replace it may be.

The Benefits of Vapor Barriers

If your crawl space frequently floods and you want to invest in a waterproofing measure that’s a little heftier, consider asking your local contractor about a vapor barrier along with other drainage solutions. Vapor barriers are large plastic-like sheets that contractors most often install in crawl spaces. These barriers are often dense enough not only to keep water out of your home but to prevent external gas leaks as well.

To install a vapor barrier, local contractors will need to:

  • Dry out your crawl space or a section of your basement.
  • Find the leak in your home.
  • Seal the leak. This may include installing interior drainage and a sump pump in the crawl space.
  • Remove any old or damaged insulation that may impede the barrier.
  • Cut the barrier materials.
  • Place the materials along your walls and floors, only leaving gaps for electrical or plumbing equipment.

Doubling-Up: When To Combine Waterproofing Measures

Thermal insulation and vapor barriers perform basically the same tasks in your home. If you need a waterproofing measure that’s a little more comprehensive, then you may want to invest in a vapor barrier coupled with drainage solutions over insulation. However, there’s nothing saying that you can’t enjoy the benefits of both measures.

Thermal insulation and vapor barriers tend to stack as waterproofing measures. This means that they’ll protect one another from excessive water damage. These measures can even cover for one another in areas that they may otherwise falter.

When in doubt, consider investing in both thermal insulation and a vapor barrier. With the help of Charlotte’s local contractors, you’ll be able to retain your home’s value and keep your space water-free. Reach out today for an inspection and a free quote on potential services.

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