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Take a down-to-earth look before installing underfloor insulation

Whether you’re looking at polystyrene insulation or the modern polyester blanket type, underfloor insulation can make your home that much more comfortable and energy-efficient. But it’s not as straightforward as phoning an insulation company and getting the job done next day. We asked installation expert Dave Hughes to provide an inside view of the most common problems when retrofitting underfloor insulation.

Here are some of the issues Dave has noticed time and time again when assessing homes.

1. Dump the junk

Unlike other countries, where they tend to store their worn-out bits and pieces in the attic, New Zealanders shove them under the house. Everything from broken furniture to sheets of corrugated iron can pile up there and moulder for decades. It’s a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind – until it’s time to insulate.

Your insulation assessor will need to look under the house, and a two-man installation team could easily spend a couple of hours down there. They can’t do their jobs if they’re obstructed by junk. Clear it out before they come. You’ll save time on the insulation process, and you’ll be helping the team do the most professional job possible. Need help? Call one of the companies that will offer to come and cart away your junk.

2. Check for leaks

It’s not uncommon for the plumbing in older homes to be a bit on the rickety side. While you’re checking access and removing junk, turn on all the cold taps in the house and check all pipes under the floor. Any leaks will need to be fixed before underfloor insulation is installed. You might also spot a leak in a pipe connected to your hot water system. Fixing that will save you money on your power bill at a stroke.

3. Watch out for exposed wires

Any loose wiring should be treated as if it’s live. The last thing anyone wants is an electrocution accident, and your underfloor insulation team will be very alert to the risk. If your house hasn’t been rewired in living memory, it might be smart to have an electrician check that everything is in good order underfloor. Better safe than sorry!

4. Access is critical

Perhaps this hasn’t been used for years, and the hinges and latch may have failed. As Dave says, “Half the job is access, so if you want to get the best job you need to provide good access for the installation team.”

Once the job is completed, make sure the underfloor area is secure from cat entry. It’s not unknown for Felix to find his way down there and start a merry game of ripping down the insulation!