What to Expect When Insulating Walls in an Old House

Old houses tend to be full of character, but they can also feel like they’re full of holes. If you’ve ever felt the wind come right through the walls of your home, you know what we’re talking about. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make an old house more comfortable, like adding new wall insulation. Upgrading your home’s wall insulation can lead to benefits like: 

  • Better energy efficiency

  • Lower heating and cooling costs 

  • Fewer indoor drafts 

  • More comfortable and consistent indoor temperatures

  • Healthier indoor air quality

Insulating a house with existing walls can be a fairly complex project, however, and it’s important to understand what to expect before getting started. Here are a few things to keep in mind when adding new wall insulation to an old home. 

You May Have to Open Up Walls to Add Insulation

Many homeowners want to insulate their old houses without tearing down walls so that they can preserve the original features. If your home’s wall cavities are empty—meaning there isn’t any insulation inside them at all—this can be done with injection foam insulation. Injection foam is installed from the outside of your home, by removing the siding, drilling entry points, and injecting the foam insulation into the walls. The foam expands slowly, which reduces pressure and prevents the drywall from cracking as the foam expands. 

Unfortunately, injection foam cannot be installed over existing insulation. If you already have some insulation in your walls, the existing wall insulation will have to be completely removed before new foam insulation can be installed. There isn’t always an easy way to do this and walls will likely have to be opened up in the process. 

Prioritize Attic and Basement Insulation Before Adding New Wall Insulation 

When you’re upgrading your old home’s insulation, it’s best to start with the attic and the basement or crawl space. Most of the heat loss that happens in your home is a result of poor attic or basement insulation, and making sure you have adequate insulation in these areas will have a greater impact on your home’s comfort and efficiency than adding new wall insulation. It’s also much easier to access these spaces than it is to insulate closed wall cavities, making the process faster and less intrusive. 

Make Sure to Air Seal 

If it feels like the wind is blowing right through your house in the winter, you probably need to air seal. Most homes—especially older homes—are riddled with tiny openings, called air leaks. These openings can be found around plumbing and wire penetrations, around doors and windows, around basement rim joists, and in many other areas. 

Your heated or air conditioned air can seep out through air leaks, and outside air can get in through them. This can drive up your energy bills and make your home very uncomfortable. Sealing air leaks is the first step in almost any old house insulation project and is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.  

Consult the Professionals at Vermont Foam Insulation 

Insulating walls in an old house is a big project that’s best left to a professional insulation company. Vermont Foam Insulation can help you decide whether adding wall insulation makes sense for your home, or if there are more efficient ways to meet your home comfort and efficiency goals with attic insulation or basement insulation. We are used to working with older homes and know how to preserve their character while improving efficiency. 

VFI is the premier spray foam insulation company serving southern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire homeowners, and we can help you make the most effective upgrades to your old home’s insulation so you can enjoy a safe, comfortable, and healthy living environment. 

Upgrade your old home’s insulation. Call 802-231-4612 or contact us to schedule a site visit.

Make your old home feel brand new with better insulation. 

Talk to the experts at Vermont Foam Insulation. 

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