How to Insulate Existing Walls: Pro Guide to Insulating an Old House

March 29th, 2023 BY First American Roofing

Ever walk into a room in your house and feel like you need to put on a winter coat? Perhaps that is not so uncommon during the winter months. Except, of course, when your heating system is working full force.

Sound familiar? Many homeowners find themselves perplexed by their home’s seeming inability to maintain a steady temperature. If you’ve found yourself checking and double-checking your HVAC and A/C units and coming up with nothing, you may have a different sort of problem on your hands.

Yep. We’re talking about a lack of insulation.

Most of us take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach when it comes to the insulation in our homes. If you’ve never thought about your house’s insulation, you are not alone. However, it could be affecting much more than you know!

Today, we’ll be discussing everything you need to know about insulating an existing wall, including:

If you want to stop shivering and start feeling comfortable in your home, read on!

Why Is It A Good Idea to Add Insulation?

Whether or not we notice it, insulation can make a huge difference in the overall functioning of our homes. What are the benefits of having proper insulation in your home? Here are just a few:

family enjoys time at home in warm well insulated home

5 Signs You Need to Add Insulation

When you are used to your home feeling a certain way, it is easy to overlook any problems. If you need new insulation installed into your existing walls, you might not even know it! However, there are some key signs to look out for in order to determine whether or not adding insulation is right for you. Here are some of the top signs that your insulation is no longer cutting it:

1) High Energy Costs

Are you opening your heating and cooling bills only to be horrified by the contents? If your energy bills are growing more expensive without any obvious reasons why it could be that you need more insulation to keep the air inside your home regulated.

2) Temperature Changes

There’s nothing quite as jarring as walking out of your cozy bedroom in the morning only to find that the rest of your house is freezing cold!

If you are noticing huge discrepancies in the temperature from room to room in your home, a lack of insulation is a likely culprit.

3) Cold Floors and Walls

Is walking around your home without socks simply not an option for you in the cold winter months? Cold floors, walls, and ceilings are a sure sign that your existing insulation isn’t doing enough to protect you from the outside weather.

4) Ice Dams

finding ice dam on roof due to poor insulation

Icicles may look pretty, but they are indicative of a larger problem with your home. Icicles are a sign that you have an ice dam on your roof. Ice dams are formed when heat escapes through the roof and melts the snow that is resting there. As the melted snow travels down the roof, it refreezes and creates a dam that can lead to serious water damage.

Adding proper insulation to your attic can help stop ice dams in their tracks and save you lots of money in the long run.

5) Pest Problems

If you have unwanted house guests taking up residence, your insulation might be to blame. Poorly installed or insufficient insulation creates gaps and holes that allow pests like mice to enter your home and nest. If you are finding frequent signs of mice in your house, you may want to consider updating your insulation.

Types of Insulation for Closed Walls

Now that you know what to look for, you’re probably wondering what your options are when it comes to adding insulation to existing walls. You’re in luck! There is a wide range of insulation materials available to you. With a little research, you can find a solution that works for your climate, house, and budget. Here are some of the most popular options:

Loose Fill Cellulose Insulation

When it comes to adding insulation to an existing wall, loose-fill insulation (also referred to as “blown-in insulation”) is typically the most popular choice. It is relatively affordable, fast, and can be done with minimal disruption to the structure of your walls. There are two main types of loose-fill insulation: cellulose insulation and fiberglass insulation. Each has their own unique pros and cons.

Cellulose insulation is generally a little less popular than fiberglass insulation and with good reason.

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

Blown-In Fiberglass Insulation

freshly installed blown-in loose fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass insulation is the most popular type of loose-fill insulation on the market. If your existing insulation consists of fiberglass batts, you’ll find that this blown-in material is almost identical.

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

Blow In Blanket Insulation

Blow In Blanket Insulation is generally referred to by its acronym, BIBS. BIBS aims to fill the gap between standard loose-fill materials and existing insulation. Typically, it comes in a pellet form, that will not settle and create gaps over time, like traditional blown-in insulation.

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

Injection Foam

If you are looking for a highly durable form of insulation that will protect your home for years to come, you can’t go wrong with foam. Spray foam insulation has slowly been becoming a popular form of insulation for homes due to the fact that it does not expand and contract with changing temperatures. This means that it lasts longer and insulates your house thoroughly.

Injection foam is a smaller-scale version of this product, which can be used to insulate walls and prevent air leaks without removing the drywall.

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

How Much Will New Insulation Cost?

woman at home calls contractor to install insulation in new roof

Ready to add insulation but are nervous about the cost? The good news is that insulation itself is not hugely expensive. Most insulation products cost between $1-$5 per square foot. Of course, within that, you have to factor in labor costs.

An installation professional usually charges between $60-$70 per hour for their labor. When it comes to adding insulation to your existing walls, however, we would not recommend skimping. Many of these methods require specialized skills in order to make sure that your exterior walls are providing you with the best insulation possible.

How Long Will My Insulation Last?

Now that you’ve built out a budget, you’re likely wondering how long it will be before you have to redo the whole process over again. Most professionals recommend replacing your insulation every fifteen years or so to ensure that your house is as protected as possible.

Got a Question? Ask a Pro!

Do you have more questions about adding insulation to your existing walls? Our team of pros at First American Roofing & Siding is here to help. Contact us today to receive a free estimate for your home improvement project!