Should You Use Fiberglass Insulation?

When it comes to insulation, there are several options available. Choosing the right one can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. One popular type is fiberglass insulation. This article will offer information on fiberglass insulation pros and cons.

Man-made fibers. What is fiberglass insulation? Fiberglass is made up of super fine strands of glass fibers. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that manufacturers use a certain percentage of recycled glass, and most manufacturers use at least 20 percent when making fiberglass. The glass is heated in a furnace, then spun or blown into blanket insulation (sheets or rolls) and loose-fill. For blown-in fiberglass insulation, those materials are cut into smaller pieces that can fit into a blower. Fiberglass insulation comes in both low-density and high-density types. This product was developed in the 1920s, and gained popularity among U.S. builders in the 1950s, when asbestos insulation was discovered to contain carcinogens, which are linked to cancer. Asbestos is made up of mineral fibers that are fire, heat and chemical-resistant. The EPA no longer allows it to be used for insulation, because studies have linked its use to serious health concerns.

Fiberglass insulation danger. Like the asbestos it replaced, there has been concern over whether or not there are health risks posed by using fiberglass. Many people have questioned, "Is fiberglass insulation dangerous?" The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor mandates that all products containing fiberglass be labeled as both a potential carcinogen and as an irritant for skin, lungs and eyes. However, fiberglass is currently classified as an animal carcinogen, not a human carcinogen.

Which leads to a related question, "Is fiberglass insulation safe?" The answer is yes, if proper precautions are taken. Exposure to loose glass fibers typically takes place when the fiberglass has been damaged or is not installed properly. Caution should be taken when working with fiberglass to prevent skin irritation and the accidental inhalation of loose fibers.

Flammability. Another concern people have when it comes to choosing the right material is, "Is fiberglass insulation flammable?" The answer is two-fold. Because it's made of glass, the fiberglass itself won't burn. If exposed to a hot enough heat source it will melt. However, it is usually packed and installed with a paper shell, and that will burn. Some types of fiberglass insulation have been specially treated with a flame retardant in order to minimize the risk of it burning.

Another concern, particularly in colder climates, is that the R-Value of fiberglass drops when the temperature cools. Cellulose is not as impacted by colder weather.

Now that you know the basics of fiberglass insulation, you can make an informed decision when it comes to your home. However, it's never a bad idea to call for a second opinion. Terminix® offers a free insulation inspection, where they'll tell you what works best in your space. With Terminix Insulation Service, you'll be getting cellulose insulation that has been treated with a pest deterrent, which means you can keep your home protected from the elements – and from pests.