Loft Insulation

Old May 1st 2007, 2:22 am
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Question Loft Insulation

I have just been up in our loft to check if we have any insulation.
We have.... but it is not like anything I have ever seen before. It looks like shredded fibre glass with sawdust and polysterene foam through it. It seems to be laid to a uniform depth of about 4". The sun is shining and it is pretty damned hot up there compared with the house itself, so it seems quite effective. There was a DVS installed when we bought the house and all the piping etc seems to be buried under the stuff - I am making the assumption it is a quite recent addition. It doesn't look ancient - all covered in dust and spider's webs.
Has anyone come across this stuff before?
Any idea what it is called so I can look it up and figure out how effective it is?
StevieB will be mightily relieved I took pity on him and did it myself: he hates spiders and has been putting this off for weeks in case they launched a mass attack on his head as he stuck it through the hatch!
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Old May 1st 2007, 3:16 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Sounds like 'Insulfluff' which we have in our ceiling.
It packs down after a few years and looses it's ability to work well.
We've just laid some rolls of Bradford Gold insulation over the top.
We noticed the difference straight away.


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Old May 1st 2007, 3:18 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

By the way you describe it it's a blown in loose fill composite. The other type is a mat type usually fibreglass or wool.

The blown in loose fill is more effective and lasts longer than the mat type. If its 4" thick then its sitting properly and not compacting. The mat types especially fibregalss compact and settle over time and loose anything up to 70% of their effectiveness.

Wall insulation is almost always the bat type for timber framed houses and starts to deteriorate in less than five years. A bat sitting on its edge usually sags and can leave 30% of the gap uninsulated.

It's one of the reasons many 5+ year old houses seem to have an insulation problem.
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Old May 1st 2007, 3:26 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Thanks for that people: at least I now know there is something up there that works reasonably well at the moment, not the priority I thought it was going to be.
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Old May 1st 2007, 3:28 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Do the ubiquitous polystrene ceiling tiles have much of an insulating effect?
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Old May 1st 2007, 3:37 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by Kippers View Post
Sounds like 'Insulfluff' which we have in our ceiling.
It packs down after a few years and looses it's ability to work well.
We've just laid some rolls of Bradford Gold insulation over the top.
We noticed the difference straight away.


Kip
Settling is a factor of high humidity (especially in the winter) dust and vibration. If you live on or near a main road it will be exponentially worse. What most people forget is that NZ approximately 15,000 recordable quakes per year.

These combined factors neutralise much of the insulations effectiveness between year 5 and 10. By about year 10 there will be a much slower but still gradual decline in its effectiveness.

Theres virtually nothing you can do about this particularly in walls. Ceiling insulation needs topping up or replacing about every 10 - 15 years to maximise efficiency. It will vary from place to place but if you check your insulation every 2 - 3 years you'll get an idea of how well your insulation is aging and performing.
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Old May 1st 2007, 3:45 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by karonious View Post
Do the ubiquitous polystrene ceiling tiles have much of an insulating effect?
If they're the perforated type no. The solid sheet variety would have an R rating of about 10% of that of a std pink wall bat at most.

Strangely poly isn't as good on the R rating as say bats for a similar thickness. High density poly is no better than med density. 2" compared to 4" doesn't mean double the R rating.

Houses with poly sheet cladding though have an 'effective' efficiency rating of around 50+% greater than conventional forms of insulation and it doesn't deteriorate over time.
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Old May 1st 2007, 5:49 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by nzer57 View Post
If they're the perforated type no. The solid sheet variety would have an R rating of about 10% of that of a std pink wall bat at most.

Strangely poly isn't as good on the R rating as say bats for a similar thickness. High density poly is no better than med density. 2" compared to 4" doesn't mean double the R rating.

Houses with poly sheet cladding though have an 'effective' efficiency rating of around 50+% greater than conventional forms of insulation and it doesn't deteriorate over time.
Thank you Karma for your help!
You seen very clued up on all this - is this what you do for a living or have you done a lot of investigation on your own behalf?
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Old May 1st 2007, 5:57 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by karonious View Post
Thank you Karma for your help!
You seen very clued up on all this - is this what you do for a living or have you done a lot of investigation on your own behalf?
Was a builder in NZ. Specialised in energy management design
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Old May 1st 2007, 6:06 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by nzer57 View Post
Was a builder in NZ. Specialised in energy management design
In that case, what would you suggest is the most cost effective form of heating for the New Zealand climate?
I hope you are going to say heat pump as we had one installed on Sunday!
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Old May 1st 2007, 6:44 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by karonious View Post
In that case, what would you suggest is the most cost effective form of heating for the New Zealand climate?
I hope you are going to say heat pump as we had one installed on Sunday!
That's always hard to say. It depends on things like climate, sunny days, electricity tarrifs, type of house, thermal mass, how the house is used, number of occupants etc.

Heat pumps are like cars; some do more to the gallon than others. Choosing, sizing and location are important to efficiency. In terms of cost heat pumps are the most efficient electrically driven heat producing devices

Choosing a cost effective method also includes capital cost. More and more people are also factoring in where their energy is coming from; IE clean or dirty.

I designed and built a 4000sq' 2 story open plan house that was adequately heated with 2 x 2000w wall heaters. No carpets, no drapes (30% of wall area was glass) and single galazing. That was Christchurch where it gets below zero.

The big thing with heat is to keep it in. Heat is like smoke it wants to rise and dissipate. So insulation, draft proofing and air circulation can reduce losses but just as importantly circulation brings down heat energy from the ceiling to person height. Something like 60% of heat energy sits at head height or higher. If you measured temps in a room from the ceiling to the floor you'll see what I mean.

If you circulate air it also lowers the thermal gradient between the ceiling and roof space slowing down thermal loss

It's normal to position thermostats at about chest hight but that's not how we judge what is a comfortable temperature especially if we're sitting around watching TV in the evening. So pulling down hotter air at ceiling height helps increase the overall average temp at lower levels and consequently run heating devices at lower temps.

That's a simplistic overview. If I had been in your situation a heat pump may have been on my agenda but I would have looked at how I could capitalise on particular characteristics of the house to improve outcomes then looked at what I needed to make up any shortfall.
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Old May 1st 2007, 6:58 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by nzer57 View Post
That's always hard to say. It depends on things like climate, sunny days, electricity tarrifs, type of house, thermal mass, how the house is used, number of occupants etc.

Heat pumps are like cars; some do more to the gallon than others. Choosing, sizing and location are important to efficiency. In terms of cost heat pumps are the most efficient electrically driven heat producing devices

Choosing a cost effective method also includes capital cost. More and more people are also factoring in where their energy is coming from; IE clean or dirty.

I designed and built a 4000sq' 2 story open plan house that was adequately heated with 2 x 2000w wall heaters. No carpets, no drapes (30% of wall area was glass) and single galazing. That was Christchurch where it gets below zero.

The big thing with heat is to keep it in. Heat is like smoke it wants to rise and dissipate. So insulation, draft proofing and air circulation can reduce losses but just as importantly circulation brings down heat energy from the ceiling to person height. Something like 60% of heat energy sits at head height or higher. If you measured temps in a room from the ceiling to the floor you'll see what I mean.

If you circulate air it also lowers the thermal gradient between the ceiling and roof space slowing down thermal loss

It's normal to position thermostats at about chest hight but that's not how we judge what is a comfortable temperature especially if we're sitting around watching TV in the evening. So pulling down hotter air at ceiling height helps increase the overall average temp at lower levels and consequently run heating devices at lower temps.

That's a simplistic overview. If I had been in your situation a heat pump may have been on my agenda but I would have looked at how I could capitalise on particular characteristics of the house to improve outcomes then looked at what I needed to make up any shortfall.
Thank you - that's a petty impressive rundown. I apreciate the time you have taken to set that out Hopefully with our DVS, heat pump and reasonable insulation, we should be quite cost-effective AND warm.
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Old May 1st 2007, 5:47 pm
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by karonious View Post
Thank you - that's a petty impressive rundown. I apreciate the time you have taken to set that out Hopefully with our DVS, heat pump and reasonable insulation, we should be quite cost-effective AND warm.
As a matter of interest regarding insulation are you able to purchase the Multi-Foil Insulation. It proves to be expensive here at £10 per m2 but the thermal properties appear better than normal fibre glass insulation. I've used it quite alot in many loft conversions/ extensions and seems to be getting quite popular. Believe me its better to instal than getting all togged up in PPE and feelng itchy from the fibreglass.
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Old May 2nd 2007, 12:43 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by Yorksha View Post
As a matter of interest regarding insulation are you able to purchase the Multi-Foil Insulation. It proves to be expensive here at £10 per m2 but the thermal properties appear better than normal fibre glass insulation. I've used it quite alot in many loft conversions/ extensions and seems to be getting quite popular. Believe me its better to instal than getting all togged up in PPE and feelng itchy from the fibreglass.
Had a look at some of the testing on it and it has a real R value of 1.7 which is generally below that recommended for ceilings. Minimum 2 is the standard I think from memory.

I personally don't get too fixated on R values though as they can shift the focus away from the real issues of insulation.

I assume you cut it to fit between joists??
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Old May 2nd 2007, 5:33 am
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Default Re: Loft Insulation

Originally Posted by nzer57 View Post
Had a look at some of the testing on it and it has a real R value of 1.7 which is generally below that recommended for ceilings. Minimum 2 is the standard I think from memory.

I personally don't get too fixated on R values though as they can shift the focus away from the real issues of insulation.

I assume you cut it to fit between joists??
Fixing is generally just rolled out and stapled or nailed to the underside of rafters or on floor joists. Bugger to cut with a stanley knife so I recommend using scissors
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