If you believe that heat rises, most probably you are used to having cold feet every time you wake up in the morning. Modern building contractors would tell you that this is only an excuse or justification for not insulating the floor. Actually it is the hot air that rises and not the heat. This process is called convection. Convection, radiation and conduction are processes by which heat can escape a room or a building. Heat loss resulting from these three processes will be considerably lessened with floor insulation.
Aside from providing a healthier and more comfortable environment for the occupants, a well insulated home would also mean lesser electricity bills to be paid for heating the home. Everybody is concerned about energy conservation. While old mansions would need a king’s ransom to heat, new homes and buildings these days follow the Building Code as far as insulation and the consumption of energy is concerned.
Fundamentally, insulation is done to trap the air in cavities, thus, effective insulation will be achieved if the cavities of trapped air is smaller. Heat in an un-insulated home will escape through the ceiling. This would account for about 42% of heat loss. Floors lose only about 10% of heat. Nevertheless, floor insulation is needed to achieve an overall home comfort.
Insulation materials no matter how expensive and touted to be effective will be inefficient if installed unskillfully and poorly as heat can still escape though unsealed gaps. Concrete floors need to be insulated at the time of construction. Pumice and polystyrene are the most suitable insulation materials for concrete floors. Polystyrene products would emit toxic fumes in a fire but this is highly unlikely as this insulation material will be sealed with concrete. Polystyrene have excellent R-values and have superior insulation properties.
Pumice is another excellent concrete floor insulation material. As this is locally available, this is a more economical option. Apart from its outstanding insulation capabilities, pumice can also be used as filler under the concrete slab.
Ideally, concrete floor insulation should be done before the concrete is poured. Insulation material should be strong enough to be able to support the concrete. And since the insulation material will be “buried” under the concrete slab it should be chemical and moisture resistant.
Insulating an existing concrete floor is also possible but this time, the most suitable insulation materials are mineral wool and timber based flooring such as chipboards.
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