You asked. We’ve answered.
- How much insulation do I legally need for my [attic, wall, etc.] if I live in [insert city or province here]? The amount of insulation your home or building needs depends on where you live. Contact your local building code official for definitive code requirements. Note that municipalities have different approaches to renovation work, and there may be a legal requirement that applies.
- My contractor is suggesting [insert insulation type], but I feel differently. What type of insulation do I need? Check out our insulation comparison page for homeowners and for professionals.
- Do I need a vapour barrier? Vapour retarders are typically recommended for the interior side (i.e., the “warm in winter” side) of above-ground framed walls in your home, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, garages, and attics. A vapour retarder is not required for basement walls, walls made of materials that can’t be damaged by moisture or freezing, or any parts of walls that are below ground. Note that many Canadian codes use the terms “vapour barrier” and “vapour retarder” interchangeably. The latter is technically more accurate.
- What do I do if my insulation gets wet? Please refer to our page on preventing moisture issues.
- Are mineral fiber insulations safe? The mineral fiber products used in the construction industry today are safe for use when recommended work practices are followed. For detailed information on the health and safety of mineral fiber, please contact the insulation manufacturer and visit our Health and Safety section of the website for homeowners and professionals.
- What is the difference between an R-value, RSI-value, and a U-thermal transmittance? Thermal resistance requirements in Canada are under the jurisdiction of the 13 provinces and territories, with a few chartered municipalities that adopt and enforce their own requirements (e.g., the Vancouver Building By-Law 9419 ). For this reason, there is a lot of variation in the requirements across Canada. Some jurisdictions express minimum thermal resistance codes using nominal values, others using effective values . The use of nominal values is easier for the insulation industry, since the product packaging is marked with these values and they directly correlate with the amount of insulation required in a building assembly (e.g., above ground walls, roofs). However there is a move away from nominal to effective requirements in codes, with effective values representing the total thermal resistance of the whole assembly, not only insulation. Therefore it is important that the insulation industry and its supply channels learn how to calculate the nominal insulation needed to meet those code requirements that are expressed in effective thermal resistance. There is no single conversion factor, since the effective values account for each feature of the assembly contributing to thermal resistance, and features vary from building structure to building structure.
- Which type of insulation do I need? The type of insulation you need depends on where it will be installed, what R-values are required, and your budget. Where you live also affects which insulation you choose. For example, a home in Toronto will have different minimum R-value requirements than one in Yellowknife. Check with your local building codes.
- What is blown-in or loose-fill insulation? Blown-in or loose-fill mineral fiber insulation is typically used in unfinished attics, nonconforming spaces, and hard-to-reach areas, such as corners, edges, and around framing. This type of insulation usually requires a blowing machine for installation.
- What is mineral wool? In Canada, this term is used to cover any mineral fiber insulation: glass, rock, and slag material fibers. (See CAN ULC S 773 for more information.) Specifically designed to deliver robust thermal insulation and/or sound dampening, exceptional fire resistance and superior temperature control, it is most commonly installed in wood-stud cavities of interior and exterior walls, basements, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.
- How can I reduce moisture in my home? The most important step is to ensure that your home has a continuous air barrier. Wall cavities typically have an air barrier on one side (continuous for the whole of the building’s exterior structure, and vapour retarders on the other (usually warm) side. An air conditioner or de-humidifier programmed to keep the correct moisture level in the air will handle the rest. Remember that air that is too dry is not recommended for healthy living.
- How often does insulation need to be replaced? Mineral fiber is designed for longevity and permanence, and, with the exception of unusual circumstances (i.e., floods, leaks, fires, or poor maintenance), it maintains its insulating (both thermal and acoustic) properties and rarely needs to be replaced. When our mineral fiber products are installed and properly maintained, they do not compress, settle, or erode over time, retaining their thermal and acoustic performances.
- Is mineral fiber fire resistant? Fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool are naturally non-combustible. For additional information on fire safety of various insulation products, please refer to our product comparison page.
Building Professional FAQs
- What are STC and ASTC ratings? An STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating is a number rating of an assembly’s ability to withstand airborne sound transfer at different frequencies. Generally, a higher STC rating will block more noise from transmitting through a partition wall or ceiling. An ASTC (Apparent Sound Transmission Class) rating is the sum of the assembly of STC and the noise that has flanked around the assembly in question. Again, the higher the number, the better.
- What is the recycled content of mineral fiber insulation? Fiberglass insulation contains upwards of 60% recycled glass, depending on the manufacturer and specific facility. Rock and slag fibrous insulation products vary, but contain natural rock and blast furnace slag, a byproduct of the steel industry, and minerals like basalt or diabase.
- How do I cut insulation batts? Lay a yardstick (or and convenient rigid straight edge) over the area of insulation to be cut. Press your straight edge down hard and cut with a utility knife, using the straight edge as a guide.
- What are commercial and industrial applications for insulation? Insulation products for commercial and industrial applications fall into four categories: mechanical insulation, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) insulation, service hot water pipe insulation, insulation for metal buildings.
- What are types of air duct insulation products? There are three types of air duct insulation:
- Duct Board: widely used in residential and light commercial HVAC systems, air duct board provides duct construction and insulation in a single step.
- Duct Liner: duct liner is adhered to the inside of a sheet metal duct or plenum, and combines superior sound absorption and excellent thermal conductivity.
- Duct Wrap: duct wrap is a flexible and resilient blanket available in various thicknesses and densities used to insulate the exterior of sheet metal ductwork. Duct wrap reduces heat loss or gain, conserves energy, and controls moisture condensation.
- What is metal building insulation? Metal building insulation is engineered specifically for metal building construction. It is manufactured in lengths and widths to specifically fit between the steel girt and purlins found in metal construction. Metal building insulation controls heat flow, absorbs noise, and can increase lighting efficiency.
Pipe Insulation and 3E Plus® FAQs
- Why did NAIMA develop 3E Plus®? NAIMA developed this program to simplify the task of determining how much insulation is necessary to use less energy, reduce plant emissions, and improve process efficiency.
- Is 3E Plus® difficult to use? NAIMA developed 3E Plus® for facility managers, energy/environmental managers, industrial process engineers, and industrial plant managers. Those individuals familiar with manual calculations to determine insulation thickness should find that the program has an intuitive interface.
- Does 3E Plus® work with MacIntosh OS? No, 3E Plus® is available for Windows® XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10.
- Does 3E Plus® work with Windows® XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 10? Yes.
- Why do I need to re-register for updated versions of 3E Plus®? NAIMA sends out updates to the 3E Plus® program regularly to registered users via email. The re-registration process assures them they have your most recent email address. Your email will not be used for any other reason than communicating about updates to the software.
- Does 3E Plus® calculate metric measurements? Yes. 3E Plus® calculates in both metric and imperial units.
- I am having trouble installing or downloading the 3E Plus® program. Network users may want to consult their IT staff to make sure they are not restricted from either downloading programs online or installing programs on their local computers. The file may also become corrupted during the download process. Users who encounter problems may want to delete the file and try again. The program must be installed and run with the language set for English (United States). This is done by going to the “control panel” and opening the “Regional and Language Options”. Under the “Regional Options” tab, select English (United States). Note: Because NAIMA is a non-profit organization, they do not have a help desk for this product. They encourage users to try to troubleshoot on their own. On your first run of the program after installation, enter the access code 3EPlus4.1 (case-sensitive, no spaces), and click OK.
- How do I upgrade 3E Plus®? If you have an earlier version of 3E Plus® installed, you must uninstall prior to installing the current version. Make sure you have your customized user added information printed out before uninstalling the earlier version. You will need to input the data into version 4.1. If you are not familiar with uninstalling software programs on your computer, contact your IT department or computer support professional. Note: when upgrading from 4.0 to 4.1, the user must manually save all user input data. Refer to the User Guide for complete details.
- Will my customized data be saved when I uninstall an older version and reinstall a newer version? Beginning with version 4.1, customized “user added” program details—such as insulation materials, jacketing, fuel types, and base metals—can be saved and easily imported when updating the program. If you are updating from an earlier version to 4.1, make sure you have your customized user added information printed out before uninstalling the earlier version of the program. You will need to input the data into version 4.1. Refer to the User Guide for complete details.
- How much does 3E Plus® cost? The program is free. They do require a simple registration, so that they may notify you as upgrades are implemented. They will not use your email address to market to you in any way. <Download the current version of 3E Plus®>.
- I’m getting a message, “An error has occurred while opening job information. 13: Type mismatch”. What should I do? For proper operation of 3E Plus® on non-English systems, under your operating system, choose: Settings > Control Panel > Regional Options, and select “English (United States)”.
- When installing the program, I get warnings like these:
- An error occurred while loading material data.
- An error occurred loading the dropdown.
- An error has occurred while opening job information.
The problem you are having is because the program uses standard US notation, and the “Regions and Settings” must be set to “English (United States)”. Follow these instructions to fix the problem:
- Control Panel > Region and Settings on the Formats tab, and check that it is set to “English (United States)”
- After setting to “English (United States)”, uninstall the program
- Temporarily turn off your firewall and antivirus software
- Reinstall the 3E Plus® program while set to “English (United States)”. You can switch back to your region’s settings afterward – but the computer must be set to “English (United States)” when installing and running the 3E Plus® program.
- Turn your firewall and antivirus software back on
- The problem you are encountering is because program uses standard US notation e.g. 75.7 not 75,7
Please review the installation directions in the User Guide.
- Why can’t I input the thermal conductivity in SI units when adding an insulation material to the program using the ‘options’ features? Currently the only way to input the thermal data for insulation and fuel under the “options” tab is to use imperial (IP) units. We recommend either asking the insulation manufacturer for the thermal conductivity data in IP units, or if that data is not available, you will need to convert the thermal conductivity data in SI units (W/mK) to IP (Btu*in/hr*ft2*Fº).
Convert thermal conductivity in SI to IP units for use in the program. Use the Btu (IT) as opposed to the (th) because it is the (IT) value which is in the 3E program.