One question I get asked frequently is, “I know I need mechanical insulation, but can’t I just install it myself?”
The short answer: no.
There are many nuances to installing mechanical insulation that take years of professional experience and training to understand. Installing mechanical insulation properly is the most important factor in its performance. Any gaps in the insulation will allow for heat loss or heat gain, making the overall system less efficient. In cold systems, if the vapor barrier on the insulation isn’t 100% sealed, the piping will produce condensate causing the insulation to get wet, lose its insulating properties, and cause a mess, including the possibility of mold growth.
All of those problems defeat the purpose of implementing mechanical insulation in the first place.
Why shouldn’t I install mechanical insulation myself? Is it dangerous?
There are some aspects of installing mechanical insulation that are simple tasks, but most aren’t. Just like anything, if you don’t know what you are doing you could install the insulation incorrectly, causing the insulation to underperform creating a less efficient system.
A trained mechanical insulator will know what precautions to take when dealing with the several different types of insulation. Most dangers with insulation are “nuisance” dangers, but there are certain types of insulations and accessories that require specialized protective equipment to prevent acute responses to chemicals in the insulation.
What training and skills do insulation professionals have?
Insulation professionals have OSHA 10 Hour training—and possibly 30-Hour training—on recognition, avoidance, and prevention of safety and health hazards in the workplace. Since we understand the process so deeply, we have a thorough understanding of the risks involved and know how to prevent them from happening.
We also have specific knowledge and training about each manufacturer’s recommended installation techniques, as well as math skills needed for specific custom fitting of insulation.
In other words, we’ve practiced. A lot.
Does it add to the cost to have a professional install my mechanical insulation?
It initially does add cost to the project, but over the long run it will keep the cost of the overall system lower. By paying for a professional installation, the insulation system’s useful life is extended compared to it being installed by an untrained person. Also, a trained mechanical insulator’s install will provide the most in cost saving because the insulation will be installed properly. This will ensure you are receiving the greatest possible energy savings that your insulation can provide.
By Jason Barron