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Niche Publications

Senior Editor for Niche Publications of the Billings Gazette

Is your roof the only one in the neighborhood without snow on it?

Are there icicles forming on soffit eaves?

If you can relate, an insulation issue is likely.

Avoid Googling ways to insulate your home yourself with help from local insulation professionals.

No expiration date

Insulation doesn’t expire, but it does require upgrading as city codes change.

CC Insulation & Urethane project estimator, Colton Gabel, says the most recent code change was within this decade.

Updating insulation to code only matters when trying to sell your home, he said, but if you’re looking to lower your heating bill, consider making changes sooner.

Today’s code requires values of R-49 for ceilings and R-21 for walls, which Billings Insulation Service, Inc. owner Neal Wagenman says can be achieved by adding to existing insulation.

“Most home walls cannot be upgraded unless you remove the sheetrock or siding,” Wagenman said. “Insulation can be added when installing new siding; ceilings can usually always be upgraded.”

A fiberglass fix

Gabel considers fiberglass insulation the most conventional method.

Relatively inexpensive, it takes just a few hours for completion, but there’s still a bit of air penetration through it, he said.

And be careful if using a different material than what was originally installed.

“You can install fiberglass over cellulose, but because of the weight of cellulose, you should never put cellulose over fiberglass insulation,” Wagenman said.

Billings Insulation doesn’t work with cellulose, a product made from ground-up newspaper that has a sprayed-on fire retardant. It retains moisture, whereas fiberglass does not and has an R-3 value per inch.

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Billings Insulation provides help for homeowners who want to do it themselves, including quoting and selling materials needed and showing how to install materials properly. The business wants to give homeowners the feeling of accomplishing a job on their own and to help them cut costs.

“Usually buying insulation at lumber yards and box stores is not saving money,” Wagenman said.

Foam the air flow

The higher the R value, the greater the performance.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s website, R equals resistance to heat flow.

High-performance foam has a higher R value and stops air flow, said Gabel.

Closed cell spray foam like polyurethane has an R-7 value per inch. At more than double the R-value of fiberglass, it’s also about double the cost. Wagenman says the average insulation upgrade on a home costs less than $1,000.

Spray foam takes one to four days to install, with areas being serviced ranging from the roof deck to the sheetrock.

“Provided there’s not a lot of settling, the home will pretty much withstand nuclear war,” Gabel said.

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