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Five Fireplace Safety Measures in Worcester MA

7 May 2014

A fireplace is one of the many options for home enhancements. It helps in heating up your home and reducing home heating expenses. But before you use it, do the following fireplace safety measures first whether you are using a wood, gas, or electric fireplace:

Make necessary repairs
Check up the parts of your fireplace as it may have missing cap or loose bricks. Repair these and all else before you use your fireplace to supplement your main heating system. Also make sure the fireplace mantle and area around the hearth is clear of decorations, especially those combustible materials, and of debris for safe use of your fireplace.

Hire a chimney sweep
Before you enjoy relaxing by a warm fire with your fireplace, hire a chimney sweep to remove soot and debris left by last year's winter. You may also ask a certified chimney specialist to have your chimney its annual check-up. They may also some helpful tips on fireplace safety.

Keep an eye on kids
Keep your kids away from the fireplace when a fire is burning. Consider installing a childproof fireplace gate. You can also use a spark guard to prevent embers from shooting out from the fireplace.

Put out the fire
Before leaving the house or going to bed, make sure you put out the fire first. Remember not to leave a fire unattended. You can also install smoke detectors on every floor of your house and inside your bedrooms for more security. Also, do not overload as too much heat generated by large fire can crack a fireplace's chimney. When disposing ashes from the fireplace, never empty ashes directly into the trash bin. Instead, allow them to cool down first before disposing.

Start right
Never burn trash or any sort to start the fire, neither should you use flammable liquids. Use seasoned hardwood so as not to accelerate creosote buildup in the chimney. Start right by building small fires that burn completely and only produce less smoke.

For more information about fireplace safety and for other home enhancement concerns, contact Custom Insulation.

Home Insulation For New Construction and Additions – Boston, Worcester

22 April 2014

New home construction is increasing all over Massachusetts. One of the biggest considerations when building a new home is keeping your energy costs down once you move in. To do this, you need to install the right amount of insulation in the all the right places.

In Boston and Worcester, you will save money and energy when you build a new home or addition if you install a combination of cavity insulation and insulative sheathing. Reduce exterior wall leaks by taping the joints of exterior sheathing and caulking and sealing exterior walls. Cavity insulation can be installed at levels up to R-15 in a 2 inch x 4 inch wall and up to R-21 in a 2 inch x 6 inch wall.

These help to reduce the energy that would otherwise be lost through the wood frame. In Massachusetts, which is zone 5, you should install R38 to R60 in the attic, R30 to R38 in the Cathedral Ceiling, R13 to R15 in the Cavity, R2.5 to R6 Insulation Sheathing, and R25 - R30 in the floor.

You should consider attic or roof radiant barriers (in hot climates), reflective insulation, and foundation insulation for new home construction. Check with Custom Insulation for more information about these options.

Insulation Tips

  • Consider factors such as your climate, home design, and budget when selecting insulation for your home.
  • Use higher R-value insulation, such as spray foam insulation, on exterior walls and in cathedral ceilings to get more insulation with less thickness.
  • Install attic air barriers such as wind baffles along the entire attic eave to help ensure proper airflow from the soffit to the attic. Ventilation helps with moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills, but don't ventilate your attic if you have insulation on the underside of the roof.
  • Be careful how close you place insulation next to a recessed light fixture—unless it is insulation contact (IC) rated—to avoid a fire hazard.

For more information, contact Custom Insulation.


Blown In Insulation to Better Insulate Existing Homes in Worcester, Boston

14 April 2014

The weather is getting warmer. While we are finally getting a break from our heating bills,the cooling season is fast approaching. You can save money on cooling your home by adding blown-in insulation to your attic. Prevent your attic from acting like a sieve and save heating and cooling dollars all at once, by re-insulating your home. With today's rising energy costs, it's no wonder homeowners are taking interest in buttoning up their attic. Making the attic more air tight by adding additional insulation is a job worth doing.

The easiest way to increase your home’s efficiency is to contact an insulation contractor to blow insulation into your open attic area with 12-inch deep coverage. Blown-in insulation has proven energy savings and increase the value of your existing home.

Blown in insulation is really about the only way to insulate existing, closed-up walls. The only other option is to start pulling off siding or rip out interior drywall. Blown-in insulation will fill every crack and crevice much better than batt insulation.  The two biggest advantages of blown-in insulation are its performance and the speed in which it can be installed.

Blown-in insulation has optimal performance because it securely fills in everywhere and surrounds every piece of conduit and obstacle, which makes for a much more effective barrier than rolled insulation.

For more information, contact Custom Insulation.

Copper Gutters Add Curb Appeal and Low Maintenance To Your Home – Boston, Worcester

9 April 2014

A home’s curb appeal is crucial because it can be the first thing buyers notice about a home. That’s why exterior projects have been rated among the most valuable home improvement projects in the most recent Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report. So, curb appeal is important. If you need a new gutter system for your home, choose one that is functional and beautiful: copper gutters.

Regardless of if you want to stay in your home, or sell it soon, you need to consider your home’s resale value when you are beginning home improvement projects. Curb appeal has been found to increase home value and to sell homes faster.

Copper gutters may be more expensive initially than aluminum or pvc gutters, but they will cost less during the life of your home. Copper gutters are maintenance free because copper stops the growth of algea and fungus, which are two major problems for gutters. Copper gutters also last for over 100 years. That means once you add a copper gutter system to your home, you won’t ever add gutters again.

Best of all, copper gutters are beautiful. They won’t just add value to your home; they won’t just add a lifelong, maintenance free gutter system; they will add curb appeal which is what you is what you are looking for whether you want to stay in your home for years or sell in the short term.

Copper gutters protect homes from water damage, but look great doing it. There are many sizes available, from a standard 5 inch to much larger commercial grade 8 inch. All copper gutters consist of 16oz. per foot and are made from the highest quality copper available.

For more information on copper gutters, contact Custom Insulation.

Better Home Insulation Benefits Your Wallet Long-Term – Boston, Worcester

31 March 2014

If you want to choose a renovation project that will benefit you long term, you might want to look beyond the façade of your home. Renovations like updated plumbing, electricity, and insulation could be beneficial and cost-effective in the long run.

Replacing old insulation or adding insulation where there was none before can be a highly cost effective and energy efficient decision. As energy prices go up, homeowners are continue to pay more and more money each month for both heating and cooling. That's where better insulation can help. It doesn't matter whether it is hot or cold, insulation will come in handy keeping you cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter.

Don't leave insulation decisions up to your contractor. Hire an insulation specialist and do your research online, to find out what the best insulation for your budget might be.

Spray foam insulation is a modern insulation solution. Spray foam insulation combats against air leakage and works well in all type of homes, regardless of the climate.  Spray foam insulation both air seals and insulates to keep allergens and irritants at bay and eliminates air leakage to keep the conditioned air inside without the HVAC system working overtime to compensate.

Another benefit of spray foam is that it lasts as long as the home does without needing replaced or repaired, unless the actual home structure is compromised. Experts report significant reduction to utility bills, as much as 50% when a home goes from absolutely no insulation to complete coverage by spray foam.

For more information on home insulation, contact Custom Insulation.


Copper Gutters Are Green Home Improvements – Worcester, Boston

24 March 2014

It may not feel like it quite yet, but spring is here. This is the time to start planning those outdoor home improvement projects. ‘Green’ are more attractive to homeowners and home buyers. You need a new gutter system, but how can you make a ‘green’ choice? Home owners with the environment in mind are turning to copper gutters.

But, not only is copper the green choice, it is also the best choice for gutters. Actually, copper is one of only a few materials that is considered to be fully sustainable. Barely any of the copper reserves worldwide have been mined, and that copper that has been mined is still in use today! In fact, more than half of all the copper used for architectural purposes is recycled.

One of the biggest advantages of copper gutters is their lifespan, they can last for more than 100 years. Obviously, this means that for the life of your home you won’t ever have to replace your gutters. A peripheral benefit of this is a decrease in energy and fuel use in producing PVC and aluminum gutters are more homeowners choose copper.

Even better, copper gutters are essentially maintenance free as well. So, for the next hundred years, you don’t have to worry about your home gutter system. Copper is a natural algaecide and fungicide. Moss is one of the biggest causes of clogged gutters and copper automatically inhibits its growth.

Needless to say, copper gutters are far more attractive than any other gutter material. So from an aesthetics perspective, as well as an environmental one, copper gutters are the perfect choice for your home.

For more information on copper gutter systems, contact Custom Insulation.

Insulating an Older Home is Worth the Cost – Boston, Worcester

17 March 2014

Most people don’t get a chance to see a house during construction. If you do get a chance to see the process from the ground up, it’s a good experience. You see how much effort goes into compacting the soil and putting in underground plumbing before the concrete is placed, for example. And, using that example, you quickly see how a small mistake made at one phase can have a dramatic impact on some later phase.

Eventually you get to the point where the walls are insulated. Nowadays a building inspector will spend a lot of time looking for insulation problems and corrections. Foam insulation is required along the connection from the floor and between framing. Caulking or foam is required in all the wiring holes between the walls and the ceilings.

Of course, the walls need to be fully insulated and the ceilings or attics need to be completely insulated too. The requirements keep getting stricter and that’s a good thing in my experience.

Years ago, none of that was required. There was no wall insulation and there wasn’t even ceiling insulation. It was like living in a work shed with drywall on the walls and ceilings.

Insulation is very inexpensive compared to the long-term benefits. An un-insulated house will probably cost several hundred dollars a month to keep warm or cool these days.

One often thinks that the added expense and time involved in insulating might not be worth the trouble.

There are still lots of houses with little or no insulation and fixing that problem is pretty easy these days. There are also various funding sources.

The first step is to call an insulation company because they will be more familiar with the latest products, techniques and requirements.

Get options and get the highest insulation value you can reasonably afford. It will pay off later.

Also, have the old insulation completely removed. It’s a good opportunity to get rid of other stuff in your attic and to inspect wiring, plumbing, and air conditioning ducts.

For more information on insulating older homes, contact Custom Insulation.


Before Updating HVAC, Update Insulation – Boston, Worcester

10 March 2014

After this winter, many homeowners are considering replacing their heating or HVAC system. But there are some questions you should ask yourself before you make that big investment.

Have you recently upgraded the thermal envelope of your house? The thermal envelope of your house is everything that separates the living space from the outside, including walls, doors, windows, insulation and the roof. If you’ve been sealing leaks, eliminating drafts, replacing old windows or adding insulation, you’ve been making your home more energy efficient.

With thermal envelope upgrades, the home will lose less heat in the winter and therefore the heating appliance likely won’t need to provide as much energy. Depending on the reduction in energy use, it’s possible that your heating appliance could become oversized and a smaller system may operate more efficiently. Upgrading and updating your home insulation means that your home will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, reducing energy costs year round.

Is your current heating appliance more than 20 years old? Appliances made today are far more efficient than older models. They use less fuel, they are also safer, and they are more efficient. Also, the methods to size a heating system are better and can be tailored to individual homes.

Do you have rooms that are always too hot or too cold? This can be the result of air leaks, inadequate insulation, an improperly sized heating appliance or lack of zoning in your heating system. If you need to add insulation or seal leaks, take care of that before upgrading your heating system so that the heating system will be sized properly for your home.

For more information on updating home insulation, contact Custom Insulation.


Spray Foam Insulation Reduces Energy Bills – Worcester, Boston

3 March 2014

Whether it's the chill of winter or the heat of summer, our natural instincts are to adjust the indoor temperature to make our homes more comfortable all year long. But if your home has any drafts or is insulated poorly, expect indoor temperatures to fluctuate dramatically.

Leaks and drafts can hinder the performance of your HVAC equipment and cause your utility bills to skyrocket. Why? Conditioned air continually escapes the home due to the gaps within the building envelope, and HVAC equipment will work overtime to reach the thermostat's set temperature. Air leakage contributes to potential moisture problems that can affect health and the home's durability.

Once all sources of air leaks have been identified, air sealing techniques and materials can be applied. Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most popular and common techniques that can help address air leaks. A recent study showed that heat transfer was much lower in a home that has spray foam insulation than with other, more traditional insulation. The reduction, about 15% indicates minimal thermal transmission and better block of heat transference, which can have a significant impact on how homeowners heat and cool their home.

Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation works well in all climates to completely seal your home, filling every gap to stop air leaks and help reduce the strain on HVAC equipment. Spray foam insulation both insulates and air seals the entire building envelope letting homeowners cut their monthly heating and cooling bills by as much as 50% in some cases.

As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year-round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home.

While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months. For more information, contact Custom Insulation.


Adding Insulation to Older Homes Saves on Energy Costs – Worcester, Boston

24 February 2014

Cold winds and freezing temperatures snuck up on many of us this year before we had time to winterize our homes. Making small adjustments in your home can  save energy, lower heating bills and keep you warmer.

Finding a balance between being comfortable and conserving energy is key. Some areas to focus on when winterizing your home include checking the furnace, insulation, and the windows, doors and outlets for leaks to the outdoors.

Evaluating home insulation

If the home has not had updates to the insulation in more than 30 years, there is no question that the insulation of that home should be checked and updated.

You can evaluate the depth that is there and whether or not it would be warranted to add more insulation or add blown-in  insulation on top of that. One of the things that may be missed in attic insulation is the sealing of gaps and holes in the attic floor, where piping, wiring, and electrical, water and plumbing lines run. Many times this allows for air leakage.

There are two options to consider for insulating crawl spaces—insulating the perimeter wall or insulating the underside of the floor. Insulating the perimeter wall to make the crawl space an insulated space is typically easier than insulating the underside of the floor, and is probably a better long-term strategy. It might keep homeowners from having to do additional insulation around pipes and ducts that convey heated air or water.

For more information on adding insulation to an older home, contact Custom Insulation.


Insulation helps keep your house cool in the summer!