January 15

Another View: Pro-weatherization editorial doesn’t account for mold’s cost

Insulating and sealing homes in order to save energy can trap moisture, forcing pricy remediation.

By Kenneth A. Capron

Re: “Our View: Insulation, sealing better way to cut Maine heating assistance costs” (Jan. 7):

about the author

Kenneth A. Capron is a resident of Portland.

The problem with insulating and sealing is the risk of trapping moisture in the walls – leading to mold. Most wallboard installed more than a few years ago doesn’t have mold-resistant backing. It’s just paper that absorbs moisture and grows mold. And older homes don’t have plastic vapor barriers.

There is a good chance that many of the homes that are “insulated and sealed” today will end up with major mold problems and will have to be torn down in less than a decade. Insurance doesn’t cover mold in most cases.

The only way to properly insulate and seal is to remove everything in the walls – starting over with good mold-resistant insulation, foam sealing and a proper vapor barrier.

And while you have the walls open, you might as well ferret out the old 2x3s to 2x6s and use 6-inch fiberglass insulation. And while the wall is open, make sure your wiring is up to par with modern standards. And of course you’ll want to open up the ceilings and insulate and re-wire that space, too.

If you by chance still have knob and tube wiring, then blowing in insulation could introduce you to a whole new form of heating your home.

Now – about the cost of doing the job properly: Build it once, build it right? While you await the money to remodel your home properly, apply for fuel assistance.

When the author asserts “Conservation is always less expensive than wasting energy,” remember to set aside some money for mold remediation and home demolition. Don’t forget the possibility that you will probably run into lead paint. Even insulating with blown-in insulation can disturb lead paint.

Get your fuel assistance application in early.

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