Not long ago I received a call from a homeowner with a concern with the exterior walls of his house. He had felt for a long time there was something wrong with his walls. He went on to explain that he had the walls insulated some years ago and felt there might be a problem with the job. The house was an old historic home (1837) without insulation when he and his family purchased it some ten years ago. There wasn't anything specific that he could pin point, but he would like an infrared evaluation for his own information.
Exterior walls are commonly insulated with either cellulose or loose fiberglass insulation. In my opinion cellulose is a far superior material for this application. The method for filling the walls is fairly straight forward and labor intense. The insulator first removes a portion of the siding on the lower section of the wall exposing the sheathing. The same is usually done at the upper portion of the wall. Small holes are then drilled into the sheathing at the center of each stud bay. The holes are for a hose that will be fed through into the wall cavities. The technique is to push the hose to the top of each cavity and force feed insulation into the void. As the space is filled the hose is slowly pulled down, thus filling the stud bay. When the job is complete the holes are plugged and the siding replaced.
Insulating walls in this manner is a t least a two person job, one to operate the hose the other to feed the machine. So I was extremely surprised when the home owner said that one person had done the job...and it took him over a week to finish.
When I started looking at the walls with the infrared camera it became very apparent the job was miserably botched, which was really no surprise considering only one person was on the job. Almost without exception every wall was incompletely filled with insulation. In the IR image here it looks like there is some blobulous creature growing inside the walls. Those orange blotches are in fact insulation. It would appear the applicator had applied some insulation at these points and then with drew the hose. The orange vertical lines in the image are the wall studs. If you look close you can detect the horizontal wood lathe in these plaster covered walls.
I have been called on many occasions to check exterior wall insulation work. Most times the job is well done. In fact I work with one company who offers a scan (at the owner's expense) to check the quality of their work. If I find voids, they fix them.
In this case the work by this company couldn't be worse. Regrettably the customer has been left with globs of insulation which do little to trap heat, but do make nice science fictiony looking infrared images.
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