Dust and Radiant Barrier Performance: A Closer Look
This entry was posted on October 27, 2011.
Does dust have an effect on the performance of radiant barriers? Some claim it does, even completely eliminating the effectiveness in some instances. We'd like to weigh in on the conversation and share a few points. We hope this information may be helpful to those who are looking at these claims for the first time.
Radiant barriers belong to a class of insulation products termed foil insulation. Foil insulation is used everywhere. From airplanes, RV's and cars to food and medical equipment packaging, it is difficult to find an industry that does not use these materials in some form or another.
It appears the claim is based on a radiant barrier sheet collecting dust on an attic floor. The claim says the more dust that accumulates on the radiant barrier surface, the more performance decreases. It's similar to us saying the higher the moisture level in fiberglass insulation the poorer the performance.
As you look deeper, it's important to note the installation method used in these claims. Installing a radiant barrier on attic floors only accounts for approximately 10% of the attic installations. The other 90% of radiant barrier attic installations are installed on the roof deck, not the floor. Dust generally does not fall upwards.
Furthermore, residential attic floor installations are the dustiest of all environments, predominately due to ventilation and loose fill mass insulation moving around.
It should also be mentioned that radiant barriers are used everywhere in metal, steel, post frame buildings and pole barns without fiberglass or loose fill insulation and there are no reported claims of ineffectiveness in these applications. This portion of the construction market is much larger than the residential market.
Additionally, the refrigeration, packaging, transportation all use foil insulation in their product designs. The radiant barrier in these applications are built in and sealed into the design so dust is not an option. This includes the other applications in the construction industry as well. The insulation is inside wall cavities or around duct work where dust is minimal or non-existent.
When you explore the claim from this perspective its evident the claim only focuses on a micro segment of radiant barrier or foil insulation usage. Click on the link for some information from our archives discussing the subject over 60 years ago when millions of square feet of foil insulation were installed in this country.
Vintage Dust and Radiant Barrier Performance. We hope you enjoy this rare piece.