Older properties generally do not have the same amenities as modern houses. Owing to different building techniques at the time and the cost of materials, some houses may not be thoroughly insulated. As such, if you own an old multifamily house, chances are you will need to completely insulate it before putting it on the market. In this blog, we will be exploring why most houses need to be insulated as well as how to insulate old multifamily houses.
The Importance of Insulating Old Multifamily Houses
Old multifamily buildings exude a sense of character and history, but they are lacking in terms of being energy efficient and comfortable. By insulating these structures, you will not only improve temperature control inside the house but also contribute to reduced energy consumption and lower utility bills. The degree to which not insulating the house will affect tenants will depend on where the building is located and seasonal fluctuations, but overall, not insulating will cause rental problems in the future.
How to insulate a building
Before you go about making any changes to the building, it’s best to plan out the structural changes. There may be multiple renovations to make, so you need to first identify the cost and time it would take to complete the project.
1. Assessment and Planning
You should first begin with a thorough assessment of the multifamily house’s current status of insulation. Through this assessment, you can identify the areas with inadequate or deteriorated insulation, which include the walls, roofs, floors, and windows. This will allow you to develop a comprehensive insulation plan that outlines the specific areas that need to be renovated, as well as the insulation materials that need to be used.
2. Insulating The Exterior Walls
Exterior wall insulation is one of the best ways to significantly improve energy efficiency. This adds an extra layer all around the house, effectively reducing heat loss through the house’s foundation. If your house has masonry walls, you can consider options such as injecting foam insulation into wall cavities or installing rigid foam insulation on the exterior walls. Spray foam is a material that resists the transfer of heat while sealing any gaps in the walls. For wooden framed walls, blown-in cellulose or fiberglass insulation would be the better option.
3. Insulation of The Roof and Attic
Another way for heat to escape the house is from the roof or attic. The hot air from the heating system will find its way to colder areas of the house, and an estimated 25% is lost through the roof and attic. Additionally, in freezing conditions, a poorly insulated roof will incur damage and can lead to expensive repairs. Insulating the roof and attic spaces prevents heat loss and will help regulate indoor temperatures. You can use insulation materials like blown-in cellulose, fiberglass batts, or rigid foam boards.
4. Insulation of The Floor and Foundation
When the foundation of a building is not insulated, you would be losing a significant amount of heat in winter and experience uncomfortably hot temperatures in the summer. Cold drafts can enter through non-insulated floors, leaving you with cold feet and an uncomfortable winter morning. Though it should be noted that only the ground floor needs to be insulated. Most upper floors can be left as-is, but if required, you can consider installing fiberglass or mineral wool batts. But for the foundation, use rigid foam insulation and insulate crawl spaces to create a thermal envelope inside the home.
5. Upgrades to Windows and Doors
While we may not be insulating doors and windows, upgrading them can improve energy efficiency. You should aim to block any gaps where heat can escape and cold air can get in. This will allow you to maintain a steady temperature indoors which will lead to lower electricity costs. You can go for double or triple-pane windows with low-emissivity coatings and insulated frames. Weatherstripping and caulking can also be considered for further improving air sealing.
Methods of insulation
1. Blown-In Insulation Techniques
Blown-in insulation, such as cellulose or fiberglass, is exactly what it sounds like. Small pieces of these materials are blown into cavities within the walls to seal any existing gaps. This makes it ideal for old multifamily houses as there may be nooks and crannies that other insulation techniques may not reach. These can even be blown into attic and crawl spaces for further insulation from both temperature and sound.
2. Interior Insulation Options
Interior insulation may be suitable for some walls, especially when you don’t want the exterior wall to be covered up in any way. For older multifamily homes with a rustic charm, covering up the exterior may reduce some of its allure. Therefore, you can consider options such as insulated panels or drywall with an integrated foam layer to add insulation.
3. Air Sealing and Ventilation
Proper air sealing will prevent cold drafts and minimizes heat loss. However, completely sealing the air can also cause complications. You need to ensure that adequate ventilation is maintained to prevent the build-up of moisture. You should consult with a professional on this matter to prevent any future issues.
By insulating old multifamily houses, you’re not only improving the physical structure but bolstering the property’s potential to provide comfortable, sustainable living spaces. An un-insulated house will not stay occupied for long, and as a renter, you are bound to get a lot of complaints. Therefore, before you put your old multifamily building on the market for rent, make sure it is thoroughly insulated.