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Historic Building Preservation Insulation Problems

Most buildings constructed before the energy crisis in the 1970s were not originally designed and constructed for today’s insulation values. Many older buildings are un-insulated and have no provisions for vapor control or ventilation.


Historic soffit

Modern soffit

Historic soffit with no roof ventilation system

Modern soffit with roof ventilation system

In cases where a historical building is converted to serve a different purpose (e.g. historical house to museum), the buildings are usually left un-insulated to retain the historical character. A common misconception is that in order to improve energy performance involves structural alterations that would compromise the historical value. This choice limits the use of the building, waste energy, or may lead to various types of building failures if the use of the building creates new environmental conditions for the structure. Most renovation and energy-conservation upgrades of historic and landmark buildings are compromised by the commitment to maintain the original character and architectural detailing of the structure. Achieving modern thermal performance requirements poses a real challenge for these older buildings which new construction does not have.

Common Problems

  • Risk of damaging historic finishes or architectural detail

  • Not enough room in the building cavities to allow an adequate R-Value

  • Un-vented roofs

  • Missing air barriers and vapor retarders


Case Studies

FOAM-TECH Solutions

There can be many solutions for insulating an historic buildings. Each building is constructed differently and may have different problems. Listed are just some of the possible solutions FOAM-TECH may use.

  • Diagnostics & Testing

  • Air Sealing

  • Create a conditioned area (Thermal Envelope)

  • Injecting closed cavities

  • Spray attic roof slopes

  • Controlling condensation & moisture

  • Spray the rim joist and basement or crawlspace walls