If you live in a hot climate, your HVAC system works overtime to keep your home cool and comfortable. Unfortunately, this is probably translating into a higher energy bill than you can afford.
A radiant barrier can take some of the burden off your air conditioner, which can reduce your bill, but moisture buildup may prevent that from happening.
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How Can Moisture Effect Radiant Barriers?
If your radiant barrier is installed on your attic floor and on top of existing insulation, cold weather can cause water vapor. It doesn’t pose an issue in most cases since the attic’s ventilation can carry it away. However, if not ventilated, the radiant barrier can get moist underneath, leading to several complications.
These potential issues include:
- Your current insulation becoming damp and losing some of its efficiency.
- Wetness in your ceiling. With time, a damp ceiling frame can rot and attract toxic mold.
What You Can Do To Prevent Moisture
The good news is that these issues can be fixed without costing an arm and a leg. Here are some things you can try out:
Seal the Ceiling
The best way to prevent moisture buildup on radiant barriers is to seal holes in your ceiling.
You should consider this solution even if you don’t have these barriers. It will prevent precious warm or cool air from escaping and increasing your energy costs.
Seal your ductwork, vents, light fixtures, HVAC register, and other points of entry and exit. One of the ways you can determine if your lights are sealed is by turning them and shining a flashlight through them from the other side.
Check lights that share the same drywall as the attic roof. In the attic, turn off the lights and check if the light from downstairs is shining through the floor. If you see light shining through, it’s not been appropriately sealed.
Make Sure Vents Are Properly Installed
If the vents in your home are installed past the insulation and up out of the attic, it should solve your moisture problem. Reroute any vents that are blowing air directly into your attic before installing a radiant barrier.
If there is no ventilation in your home, get a simple system installed. All you need are intake and exhaust vents.
The former should be at the bottom of your attic, while the latter should be on the top in-line with the natural airflow. This way, warm air from your furnace will rise naturally.
Also, make sure that the vents are clean at all times, not blocked by furniture or other items, and are free of dust. It’s simple—all you need to do is ensure an easy way for air to get into and leave your attic.
This natural and obstruction-free flow of air will allow moisture to move about and diffuse on its own rather than building up and ruining your radiant barrier.
This is why most people choose perforated radiant barriers in vented attics. The tiny pinholes allow water vapor molecules to pass through easily.
Mitigate Moisture Build-up
If you’re getting a radiant barrier installed but are unsure about whether your living space is airtight or not, you can cut holes in the barrier foil insulation on top of those areas.
Full coverage should be a priority, but a cut on the foil over a large area will not affect its efficiency. It will, however, reduce moisture issues.
However, if you already have moisture issues, the first thing you need to do is locate the source. Once you realize where the moist air is coming from, you can work out a problem.
In this case, the best solution is to remove any materials surrounding the source till the problem goes away. Contact a professional if you are also dealing with mold, mildew, and rot caused by excess moisture buildup.
Moisture can cause many issues if not treated promptly. So make sure that the place where your radiant barrier will be installed has sufficient airflow and ventilation to prevent buildup.
These precautions can ensure the installation goes smoothly and the barrier gives the best results. Just remember that a radiant barrier alone doesn’t cause moisture, but it can help you realize where the air is leaking from your home.
Top Benefits of Radiant Barriers for Your Home
A radiant barrier installed in a properly sealed home has far-reaching benefits.
The main one is that they are low-cost solutions to maximize your insulation’s efficiency. It does this by controlling the temperature in your home, in turn reducing your energy consumption and expenses.
Here’s how it works—radiant barriers can reduce the temperature in your attic and anywhere else they are installed. Once that happens, it automatically takes a lot of strain off your existing HVAC system.
A radiant barrier can reduce the temperature in your attic, reducing your AC use. It will also help with long-term maintenance work.
High and unregulated temperatures can make your cooling system break down way before its warranty expires. In addition, by forcing additional air into the system, those temperatures can wreak havoc on your ducts as well.
It can also lead to debris which can reduce their lifespan significantly.
A radiant barrier can optimize heating and cooling pressure so your insulation and HVAC system work for years without breaking down prematurely.
Of course, this will only work if your radiant barrier is free of moisture and is working correctly. Choose manufacturers or suppliers who have a successful track record and are prevalent in and around your community to ensure you get a quality product.
If there is no place for a radiant barrier in your attic, you can wrap exposed pipes with reflective insulation instead. However, this is only a short-term solution. It will only reduce heat loss for a brief period.
Important Note: Contrary to popular opinion, radiant barrier paint will not provide the same insulation as a proper radiant barrier. In fact, the former cannot be classified as a radiant barrier as far as the US Department of Energy is concerned.
As per its guidelines, radiant barrier products must offer 90% reflectance to be classified as such. Radiant barrier paint only provides 75%. In contrast, roll-type radiant barriers meet the official criterion.
Moisture levels in and around radiant barriers can be managed with the tips mentioned in this guide. However, have your HVAC system and the barrier regularly maintenanced to prevent long-term issues, especially if you don’t have time to do it yourself.
A dusty radiant barrier, for instance, will not work as advertised, and you will waste money paying off an outrageous energy bill.
The bottom line is that a radiant barrier will work efficiently if the conditions are optimal. If your ceiling leaks and your home isn’t sealed correctly against the elements, you will face costly issues down the line. Ensure this doesn’t happen and that your radiant barrier will work for years without sustaining damages.