According to the Department of Energy, 50% -70% of the energy used in an average American home is spent on heating and cooling. It is estimated that insulation and sealing can save these homes an average of 15% of these heating and cooling costs, and about 11% in total energy costs annually. However, this sealing and insulation must be done properly, otherwise, it could lead to problems like moisture retention or saturation, and even bacterial, fungal, and viral growth.
Therefore, any installation, removal, or alteration of insulation in your home is best left to a qualified insulation contractor nearby with in-depth understanding of the required standards and codes to complete your job efficiently. However, before you hire an insulation contractor near you, you should ask the following questions:
Are You a Licensed Insulation Contractor?
Licensing requirements for insulation contractors differ by location. Some states issue state-level licensing, some states do not require do not require state-level licensing, while some states issue local-level licenses. For example, states like Illinois and Colorado do not issue state-level insulation contractor licenses, and contractors in these states are required to obtain these licenses at the city, county, or municipality level. In Connecticut, insulation contractors are required to obtain a state-level home improvement contractor's license, while in Georgia, insulation contractors are considered traditional specialty contractors and are therefore exempt from obtaining state-level licenses. On the other hand, although insulation contractors are also considered specialty contractors in Alaska, they are required to obtain a state-level license before operating there. Arizona issues residential, commercial, or dual licenses to contractors, and insulation contractors are required to obtain one of these licenses.
Depending on the type of work involved, insulation contractors near you may also be required to obtain additional licenses and certifications. For example, the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act of 1986 requires any individual involved in asbestos-related work to undergo a mandatory training program. Many states also include this training program as part of their insulation contractor licensing requirement. Likewise, insulation workers that may be involved in work on houses built before 1978 are required to undergo a mandatory lead-safe work practices training issued by the Environmental Protection Agency or an EPA-authorized agency.
In light of this, it is always a good idea to contact the consumer protection office that is situated in your state of residence to find out the specific licensing requirements for insulation contractors in your locality. Also, you can verify your insulation contractor's professional license through the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies' licensing information webpage.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Insulation Contractor?
In 2019, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a total of 930 non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses amongst insulation workers. There is always the possibility of an on-the-job injury occurring during your insulation project. Insulation workers are generally susceptible to various types of injuries and illnesses ranging from falls and trips to respiratory illnesses from inhaling insulation material fibers. As such, it is always a good idea to hire an insulation contractor near you that is insured and bonded. When your insulation contractor is insured, you are spared any liabilities if either you, the contractor, or a third party, is injured during or because of the insulation project. If your contractor is also bonded, then you are also spared any financial liabilities if the job is not properly completed.
Always ask for proof of insurance and bonding from an insulation contractor that you plan on hiring. In many cases, this proof is usually in the form of certificates issued by the organizations that provided the insurance coverage and the surety bonds. You can contact these organizations to verify the authenticity of the certificates. Many states also have minimum insurance and bonding requirements for licensed contractors, and you can contact your local consumer protection office to find out what these requirements are. Generally, contractors are required to have a workers' compensation and a general liability insurance plan, and a bond of at least $5,000.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
The most commonly used insulation materials are:
- Natural fibers
- Mineral wool
- Urea-formaldehyde foam
- Phenolic foam
- Cementitious foam
- Vermiculite and perlite
- Insulation facings
The type of insulation that you install is usually determined by the location of the installation and the insulating material's resistance to conductive heat flow. Generally, the greater the resistance, which is referred to as the material's R-value, the greater the material's insulating effectiveness. Some types of insulation are:
- Blanket batts and rolls insulation â€“ these are usually installed in floors, ceilings, and unfinished walls. This type of insulation is generally made from fiberglass, mineral wool, natural fibers, and plastic fibers and it is relatively inexpensive
- Concrete block insulation â€“ this type of insulation is made from foam insulation materials and is usually used for new constructions and major renovations. They are typically installed in both finished and unfinished walls. Concrete block insulation generally requires specialized skills for installation
- Rigid foam insulation â€“ this type of insulation is made from polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane, and it can be used in floors, ceilings, unfinished walls, and unvented low-slope roofs
- Insulating concrete forms insulation â€“ insulating concrete forms are generally made from foam insulation materials that are in block or board forms. This type of insulation is usually built into the home's walls as part of its structure.
- Loose-fill and blown-in insulation â€“ this type of insulation is made from cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral wool material and it is usually used to add insulation to irregularly shaped or already finished areas. These include unfinished attic floors, open new wall cavities, enclosed existing walls, and other hard-to-reach places.
- Reflective system insulation â€“ this type of insulation is mostly used for unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors. Reflective system insulation is made from polyethylene bubbles, plastic film, foil-faced kraft paper, and cardboard, and it is effective at preventing the downward flow of heat.
- Rigid fibrous or fiber insulation â€“ this type of insulation is made from fiberglass and mineral wool, and it is used in areas that can withstand high temperatures like ducts that are in unconditioned spaces
- Sprayed foam and foamed-in-place insulation â€“ this type of insulation is made from cementitious foam, phenolic foam, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane materials, and it is good for insulating existing finished areas, areas with obstructions, and irregularly shaped areas like enclosed existing walls, open wall cavities, and unfinished attic floors
- Structural insulated panels â€“ structural insulated panels are made from foam materials that are in board or liquid form. This type of insulation generally provides more uniform insulation than other types of insulation, and it is used for roofs of new constructions, unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors
Many professional insulation contractors are adept at working with any type of insulation or insulation material. However, you should never make this assumption. Before hiring an insulation contractor near you, you should always find out the type of insulation that the contractor is qualified to handle.
Who Will Do the Work?
This question helps you find out the number of workers that will be involved in the job. Knowing this is important because it aids you in making sure that every worker involved in the job is properly licensed, insured, and bonded in line with the requirements of your area of residence. Always find out the number of works that will be involved in your project before any work begins and ensure that your insulation contractor duly informs you if this number changes.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
When you pay for a product or service, the seller usually offers you a warranty. This warranty can be implied, written, or oral, and it is offered to assure you of the quality of the product or service.
Professional insulation contractors near you would typically offer a type of warranty known as a labor or workmanship warranty. This warranty guarantees you that the installation or modification of insulation materials in your home was done properly. Note that warranties are legally enforceable, therefore they come with specific terms and conditions that must be followed. As such, you should always ask for a written copy of any warranty that your insulation contractor offers. This ensures that all the warranty requirements are stated clearly.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Permits are official government-issued approvals that authorize certain types of construction, remodeling, and renovation projects. Specific permit requirements are location-dependent. This means that whether or not you will require a permit for your insulation project generally depends on your location and the type of insulation job that you want to undertake. For example, the State of New Jersey does not require a permit for insulation installation as long as foam plastic insulation is not used and the insulation is installed either adjacent to or not more than one and a half inches from an interior finish. In the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, a permit is not required for installing insulation in unfinished attic floors and wall cavities as long as the wall finish is not removed.
As a general rule, a permit is required if the job will considerably alter the footprint or structure of your home. Note that failing to obtain necessary permits can result in serious penalties. Therefore, you should always contact the local building department office near you to find out whether the type of insulation project you want to embark on will require any permits.
Will You Provide References?
Before hiring any contractor, you should always ask for references. It is a huge red flag if your contractor cannot provide you with at least three verifiable references, and you should strongly consider hiring a different contractor. A professional insulation contractor will readily give you this information, and even offer additional details and information like pictures of successfully concluded jobs. You can also use websites like Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp to search for customers' reviews and opinions of insulation contractors near you.
Do You Have a Business License?
Unlike professional licenses that are issued to individuals, a business license is issued to a business entity as a whole. Business licenses are required for a business to carry out operations in an area. It is estimated that there are over 30 million registered small businesses in the United States, and these include many insulation contracting businesses. Always hire an insulation contractor that has a valid business license because this means that the contractor is legally authorized to conduct business in your locality. It also increases the chances of your insulation contractor having a valid professional license and being properly insured and bonded. Note that you should still verify these other requirements.
You can contact your local Office of the Secretary of State to verify the validity of your insulation contractor's business license.
What Are Common Insulation Problems?
Some common insulation problems are:
- Water damage
- Poor installation
- Unevenly blown insulation
- Insufficient R-value of the insulating material
- Ineffectiveness due to old age
- Contaminated insulation
- Missing insulation at previously repaired areas
- Pest and rodent infestation
How Much Does Insulation Cost?
The average cost of insulation in the United States is $1,500 - $2,500. This amount depends on the size of the area that is to be insulated and the type of insulation that is to be installed. As such, you can end up paying as little as $500 or as high as $4,500. Some common insulation cost estimates per square foot are are:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Insulation?
Insulation costs are mainly affected by the size of the area that is to be insulated and its location. This determines the amount of labor required for the job. Professional insulation contractors typically charge $40 - $70 per hour for labor or $1 - $2 per foot of insulation installed. Note that this fee is exclusive of the cost of any materials that will be used for the job.
Some other factors that affect the cost of insulation are:
What Qualifications Should Insulation Contractors Have?
Insulation contractors do not generally have any mandatory educational requirements. However, contractors that mostly handle mechanical insulations like pipe and ductwork insulation typically have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Many insulation contractors learn their trade through on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs, some of which last for as much as four years. It is estimated that there are approximately 33,550 floor, ceiling, and wall insulation workers and 26,670 mechanical insulation workers currently employed in the United States.
Insulation workers are required to undergo mandatory asbestos-related and lead-safe work practices training and certification programs before they can perform certain jobs. Professional insulation contractors also obtain voluntary certifications from some insulation-related trade associations. These include the National Insulation Association and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers.
Do You Need a Handyman or an Insulation Contractor?
Handymen are generally jacks of all trades workers that are not specialized in any particular type of work. Instead, they handle minor house repair jobs. On the other hand, insulation contractors are trained and licensed to install and modify insulation in line with the national regulations and standards of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Therefore, you should always employ a qualified insulation contractor near you to handle any insulation-related problems that you have.
What Are the Common Post Insulation Expenses?
A common post insulation expense is the cost of disposing of any old insulation materials that may have been removed. In many cases, the cost of this disposal is included in the total bill estimate provided by the insulation contractor. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to confirm this with your contractor before the job commences.
Another common post insulation expense is the cost of air sealing your home. This is usually done to minimize air movement in and out of your home and is necessary to efficiently manage your energy costs. Air sealing costs an average of $350 - $750.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Insulation Expenses?
Your homeowner's insurance is likely to cover the cost of replacing your insulation if it was damaged suddenly and unexpectedly. For example, if one of your pipes burst suddenly and there is water damage to your insulation, then your homeowner's insurance will cover the cost of this damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage and freezing were responsible for an average of 30.42% of the homeowners' insurance claims filed in the United States from 2014 â€“ 2018.
Note that if it is determined that the damage to your insulation is a result of lack of maintenance or negligence on your part, then it is highly probable that your insurance company will deny your insurance claim. It is always a good idea to find out the types of damages that an insurance company covers before you buy their homeowner's insurance plan.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Insulation Contractor?
Like most small businesses today, many insulation contractors near you would accept digital payments. However, you should always find out your contractor's preferred payment method before initiating any transactions. Digital payments are preferred by many users because they provide instantaneous receipts for transactions. This makes record-keeping easy. They are also more convenient, secure, and faster than other types of transactions. Note that you should always request a receipt from your insulation contractor if you perform any cash transactions.