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What are the benefits of adding floor insulation or replacing old ineffective insulation?

What are the benefits of adding floor insulation or replacing old ineffective insulation?

Insulation is rated by R value. The higher the number, the more effective it is in stopping unconditioned air from entering into your home or heated air from leaving your home.

If you have no insulation at all in your floor and you add R-19 you will experience a 90% improvement in reducing heat loss. If you already have R-19 and you upgrade to R-30 you will experience a 36% improvement after the upgrade. These statistics come from the Clark Public Utilities web site.

In Washington State the minimum R value in crawl space floor insulation for new homes is R-30. Many older homes that either don’t have any floor insulation or their existing insulation is old and ineffective will experience a substantial improvement by adding R-19.

The benefits of adding floor insulation or replacing old ineffective insulation are as follows:

  • Improved comfort: Floor insulation will help keep the temperature of your floor closer to the actual room temperature and will also minimize unwanted drafts coming from the crawl area. It will also make your home quieter by providing sound control.

  • Lower energy costs by keeping the conditioned air in your home and keeping out the cold moist unconditioned air.

  • Reduces the risk of your plumbing pipes freezing.

  • A well insulated building can improve fire safety by reducing air leakage that could otherwise provide nourishment to a fire.

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I’ve heard about crawl space encapsulation, am I better off sealing the vents?

I’ve heard about crawl space encapsulation. Am I better off sealing the vents to my crawl with a rigid foam board or insulating between my floor joists and keeping the space ventilated?

If you have or want a non ventilated sealed crawl space, full encapsulation, then you probably don’t need to add floor insulation. Traditionally, crawl spaces have been vented to prevent problems with moisture. However there are a growing number of building professionals that recognize the benefits of a moisture controlled unventilated crawl space.

There are two main reasons for this line of thinking:
  • Ventilation in the winter makes it difficult to keep crawl spaces warm.

  • Warm, moist air brought into the crawl space through foundation vents in the summer is often unable to dehumidify a crawl space. In fact, this moist outdoor air can lead to increased moisture levels in the crawl space. This information is from US Dept of Energy website.


For a more complete discussion on encapsulated crawl spaces please see our section on crawl spaces in this website.

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