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How Your Insulation Works: A Guide

October 1, 2019

October 01, 2019 at 3:46 PM

Want to know more about the most mysterious of roofing solutions, your insulation? After all, how does it work? Why do you need it? Why do some brands of it look like candy floss? It all has to do with reducing heat transference, and there’s some pretty interesting science behind it. Keep reading to learn more!

The Science Behind Heat Transference

If you think of a hot space as an overflowing jug and a cold space as an empty bowl beneath it, heat is like the water in the jug. It’s always going to want to flow to the cold, empty space from the full space. This is why your home gets cold in winter and warm in summer; between inside and outside, the heat is always going to move to the cooler option. The goal of insulation is to prevent as much heat as possible from transferring, therefore maintaining your home’s internal environment.

Heat moves through the air and objects in one of three ways—conduction, convection, and radiation.

Conductive heat is the type of heat transfer most relevant to insulation, because it’s how heat transfers between things that are touching each other.  For example, if you touch a hot plate, the heat transfers to your comparatively cooler fingers through that touch, which is what results in a burn. In your home there are a lot of things in contact with other things, allowing heat to walk the “thermal bridge’ from one side of your roof to the other. Even air can be conductive.

Convective heat also moves via the air. When a section of air becomes heated, the particles expand and move faster, causing that “section” to rise and the cooler air above it to fall. These air currents bump against each other and transfer heat through open air spaces, such as the walls in your home.

Radiant heat moves as an infrared wave through space, which is how the heat from the Sun reaches the Earth despite the lack of air in space. Radiant heat will bounce off of reflective surfaces, such as shiny metal or a mirror, but it will be absorbed by surfaces like glass fairly easily.

How Insulation Works

If you ever get a roof repair in Auckland, your contractor is bound to ask you about your insulation, because their job is affected by whether or not any construction will damage it.

Most types of insulation are there to stop heat escaping through conductive transference. By filling up the gaps in your walls with a material of low-conductivity, like fuzzy fibreglass, contractors are aiming to put up a wall between the warm and cool spaces that will stop the heat from moving from one side to the other. Filling up those airy spaces also helps to reduce convective transference, as the air can’t move as freely and therefore doesn’t transport as much heat.

There is something called an “R-value”, which is essentially a measure of how well insulation traps heat. The general rule of thumb is ‘the thicker the insulation, the higher the R-value’, which is great for keeping your home cool in summer, and warm in winter.

If you’ve noticed that your heating bill rockets upward in the winter months, or that the house is cold no matter what you do, it most likely has something to do with your insulation. If you talk to a qualified insulation contractor like Roof Auckland, we can help you sort it out as soon as possible.

Talk to Auckland’s favourite roofers today

For everything from ceiling insulation installation to laying COLORSTEEL® roofing, the team at Roof Auckland is the one to call. Get in touch today for a quote, or browse our services to see how we can help you to improve your home!

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