Do I Need a Vapor Barrier
A vapor barrier—or retarder, depending on the perm level—is a thick plastic sheet that prevents radon and other harmful chemicals from entering your home through crawl spaces, roofs, walls, ceilings and foundations.
There are many benefits to installing a vapor barrier in your wall or ceiling—it can help prevent moisture damage, increase energy efficiency and even lower the risk of mold and bacteria-related health issues. However, depending on factors like climate, building material and layout, the need can vary. Here are five signs your home would benefit from a vapor barrier in your wall, ceiling, crawl space or foundation.
1. You’re Located In A High-Risk Radon Zone
If you live in a designated high-risk radon zone, you should strongly consider installing a vapor barrier to block the harmful chemical from entering your home. When it comes to protecting against radon in particular, not just any material will do. For the best protection, make sure the material is at least ASTM E1745 Class C Standard, as this is the minimum specification recommended to effectively block out radon as well as harmful bacteria like mold and mildew.
2. You Have An Old Home—With Equally Old Ductwork
Did you know ductwork only has about a 20-year shelf life? And that it can start wreaking havoc on your energy efficiency well before that? If you have ductwork in your attic, a radiant barrier can help you keep the area cool while avoiding leaking, rusting and other contributors to premature deterioration. Plus, installing a radiant barrier is generally a much more efficient way to keep things cool in the attic than insulating it, as insulation tends to be difficult to work with.
3. You Have A Mold Issue
If you are experiencing poor air quality as a result of mold inside your home, your ductwork could again be to blame. If not properly insulated or protected with a vapor barrier, air can become condensed, creating moisture on the ducts. If you have mold in your walls or ceilings and suspect your ductwork is to blame, a vapor barrier is a must—that is, once you’ve eradicated the source of the issue.
4. Your Electric Bill Has Skyrocketed
Is your electric bill disproportionately high compared to your electricity usage? An energy inefficient attic is a likely culprit. If your attic is improperly retaining or releasing heat, it can have you sweating more than just the electric bill. Radiant barriers are an easy and cost-effective way to keep the heat out and the cool air flowing. Especially if you live in a hot climate, these easy-to-install barriers can help significantly increase energy efficiency throughout your home—again, without the hassle of insulation.
5. You’ve Discovered Unwanted Visitors
Without question, if rodents, bugs or other pests have made their way into your home, or if your floorboards are deteriorating, it’s time to seal off your crawl space. Not only does moisture damage create a most hospitable environment for undesirable guests, but if left unaddressed, it can destroy the subfloor of your home—and with it, the foundation. Depending on the extent of the damage, the cost to clean and/or repair a crawl space can be considerably high, which is why preventative measures like installing a vapor barrier are the preferred course of action.
Take a look at what moisture damage can do to your crawl space in the video below.
Choosing The Right Vapor Barrier
There are a number of vapor barriers and retarders on the market, but the one that’s best for your space depends on the unique needs of your home and climate. To learn more about the recommended solutions for walls and ceilings as well as how to install the material to create the most effective moisture barrier, view Americover’s selection of puncture-resistant vapor retarders/barriers for walls and ceilings.
Americover is a premier supplier of specialty plastic sheeting for a variety of industries and applications. We combine decades of experience, innovative thinking and an extensive US manufacturing network to create the optimal solution for every project. Our inventory of protection and containment solutions is sourced exclusively from American manufacturers, ensuring the highest quality materials are delivered to you through the most efficient means possible.