Insulation in Houston: Insulation FAQ

The following Insulation FAQ offers additional information on insulation in Houston professionally installed by Diversified Thermal.

1. How Does Insulation Help Control Condensation?

When piping and equipment operate at temperatures lower than the ambient air, moisture in the air will condense, or freeze, on or within the insulation surface - or on the cold pipe surface. Unless the system is protected by sufficient thickness and by adequate vapor retarders, the insulation can become wet, causing corrosion, and causing it to become ineffective.

Specifying sufficient insulation thickness with an effective vapor retarder system is the most effective means of providing a system for controlling condensation on the membrane surface and within the insulation system on cold piping, ducts, chillers and roof drains. Sufficient insulation thickness is needed to keep the surface temperature of the membrane above the highest possible design dewpoint temperature of the ambient air so condensation does not form on the surface.

The effective vapor retarder system is needed to restrict moisture migration into the system through the facing, joints, seams, penetrations, hangers, and supports. By controlling condensation, the system designer may control the potential for:

Degrading system service life and performance.
Mold growth and the potential for health problems resulting from water condensate.
Corrosion of pipes, valves and fittings caused by water collected and contained within insulation system. Diversified Thermal installs water proofing insulation in Houston, Texas to help control condensation and seal buildings.

2. What are Firestops?

Firestops are products specifically designed to stop smoke, toxic fumes, super-heated gases, and fire from migrating from one room to another, or from one floor to another. Firestops are used to restore the entire structure, via each individually penetrated partition, to its original fire-rated integrity. Firestops are available in a range of products to accommodate the multitude of different types of penetrating items passing through the different size openings.

All firestopping should be done in strict accordance with local building codes and National Fire protection (NFPA) guidelines. Material should be installed according to manufacturers specifications by qualified craftsmen.

3. How and Why is Insulation Used to Control Sound?

Sound attenuation, or the limiting of sound propagation from one area to another, requires the application of special and standard insulation materials to encase or enclose the noise generating source, forming a sound barrier between the source and the surrounding area.

The purposes of applying sound attenuation materials are to:

Reduce obnoxious noise levels emitting from machines, equipment, pipe lines or enclosures.
Reduce general noise level in plant areas.
Provide for better work conditions.
Comply with noise level standards of OSHA and EPA.
If building or remodeling, contact Diversified Thermal to inquire about acoustic insulation in Houston.

4. What Are the Insulation Selection Criteria for High Temperature Systems?

Examples of super hot systems include high pressure steam lines, process lines, exhaust systems, or any systems that operate at temperatures form 601°F to 1500°F. Reducing heat loss and protecting personnel is the primary reason for installing insulation in hot environments.

There are insulations specially designed for high temperature systems - and selecting the right one should be based on the unique requirements of the system you are insulating. Be sure to examine the insulation thermal values and other performance values carefully. In addition, you may want to ask the following questions before providing an insulation recommendation:

  1. What is the process?
  2. What are the process temperatures?
  3. What's the process and in the exterior environment?
  4. Is the piping located around people?
  5. Is fire an issue?

5. What Kind of Things Should You Consider When Insulating Cold Process Systems?

Low temperature systems such as those needed for refrigeration or chilled water range from - 100°F to 31°F. Supermarkets and food processing are typical of this system environment. Cold water systems such as those used for water supply HVAC systems generally range form 32°F to 60°F. Cold water systems require special attention because one must design for protection against condensation and consider the affect of moisture of water vapor transmission (WVT) on the insulation system.

WVT tells you how much water will be transmitted through an insulation system under certain conditions. Different insulation systems, vapor retarders and installation methods will affect the WVT of the system.

Condensation control and process control are two major reasons for insulating low temperature systems. When equipment or piping operates at temperatures lower than the ambient air, moistures in the air will condense or freeze on, or within, the insulation surface - or on the cold pipe surface. Unless the system is protected by sufficient thickness and by adequate vapor retarders, the insulation may become wet, causing corrosion, and causing it to become ineffective.

6. What is an Insulation Energy Appraisal?

An insulation energy appraisal puts actual dollar savings to Btu losses and calculates greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2, NOx and CE (Carbon Equivalent). An appraisal is based on data supplied by a plant/energy manger and gathered during a facility walk-through. This data is fed to a computer which calculates the energy used and the savings on any operating period or annual basis. This data is invaluable for companies that want to make sound decisions about a technology that offers tremendous payback over the life of their facilities.

NIA has developed a comprehensive program to train certified appraisers who will have the required expertise to conduct an insulation energy appraisal and make specific recommendations to plant management.

7. What is Meant by K-Factor, R-Factor and C-Factor?

K-Factor (Thermal Conductivity Factor) - the actual K-Factor number for an insulation material is based on the number of Btus per hour that pass through a 1" thick by 1" square block of insulation with a 1°F temperature difference between the two surfaces. Materials with the lower K-factor are better insulators. Insulation materials usually have K-Factors less than one and are reported at what is called Mean Temperature. To determine the mean temperature, measure the surface temperatures on both sides of the insulation, add them together and divide by two.

When comparing the insulating value of different types of insulations, it's important to look at K-Factor and the mean temperature. As mean temperatures rise, so does the K-Factor.

C-Factor (Thermal Conductance Factor) - C-Factor is the number of Btus which will pass through square foot of material with 1°F temperature difference for a specified thickness. The C-Factor is the K-Factor divided by the thickness of the insulation. The formula is the reciprocal of the R-Factor formula. The lower the C, the better the insulator.

R-Factor ( Thermal Resistance Factor) - The National Commercial & Industrial Insulation Standards Manual defines R-Value as - a measure of the ability to retard heat flow rather than to transmit heat. "R" is the numerical reciprocal of C thus R=1/C. Thermal resistance designates thermal resistance values: R-11 equals 11 resistance units. The higher the "R", the higher (better) the insulating value.

If the insulation FAQ did not answer your questions, or you would like to schedule a free estimate for insulation in Houston, call Diversified Thermal at 713-896-6801.