Heating Tips to Try Before Installing Brick Wall Insulation | Ep. 158

Exterior of brick home
Insulation behind brick walls is hard to reach, so try other methods first to remedy cold drafts.

Brick wall insulation can be costly to install. If your brick home feels drafty, there are some ways to remedy the cold before jumping into installing extra insulation.

Mary from Colorado Springs says her brick home doesn’t heat evenly and questions if insulation was even installed in the 1957 home.

We doubt insulation was not put in place when the home was first built, but as always in home improvement, you never know what kinds of “improving” the person before you did.

Electrical outlet with cover plate removed
Removing the cover plate from an electrical outlet will give you a peek inside your walls to check for insulation.

Easy Way to Check Brick Wall Insulation

A simple way to check for brick wall insulation is to cut off the power to an outlet from the circuit box. Then remove the cover plate from that outlet, take a wire hanger, bend a tight hook on it, slip it behind the box, and pull it out. 

If there is insulation, a small chunk of it will be pulled from behind the box. Sometimes you can see the insulation around the box without needing the hanger.

Insulation behind a brick wall
Bricks must be removed piece by piece to install insulation.

Installing Brick Wall Insulation

If you can’t see any insulation, you would have to install the insulation from the inside of the brick wall. It’s costly to pump insulation into the walls of a brick house from the outside because you would need to chip away bricks every 16 inches. And once you’ve installed the brick wall insulation, you would need to then repair that brick damage.

In contrast, with lap siding, you’re able to remove siding around the house, pump insulation into walls, and simply put the lap up. Installing exterior brick wall insulation will probably never save you enough on your energy bill to offset the cost.

Caulking around a window
Caulking around windows will help keep warm air inside your home.

Check Your Home’s Envelope

Although it’s important to have insulation in your exterior brick walls, try these tips first.

First, make sure the envelope in your home is as tight as can be. The home envelope is basically the exterior outline of the house that separates indoors from out and seals out the elements of nature.

Make sure there are no cracks around windows and doors or in hose bibs and dryer vents. Cold air will find its way in if you have any cracks. 

Next, check your attic insulation. You need at least 14-15 inches of insulation above all the livings areas without heating underneath. Make sure that is in shape before worrying about exterior insulation. 

Once you’ve tried all you can do yourself, consult a professional for heating advice.

Call a Professional

If parts of your house still won’t heat evenly, call a contractor to perform a heat-loss calculation to measure the space, check the heating system, and make sure you have enough heat delivered to the room.

You might find out that the problem all along was the heating system and not the brick wall insulation.

Skip to [15:16] for the full segment on the Today’s Homeowner Podcast.

Also on this episode:

  • Fixing Puckered Drywall Tape
  • Painting Marble Countertops
  • Replacing Toilet Tank Parts
  • Remedying Rattling Water Pipes

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Simple Solutions

Finding a Stud Without a Stud Finder — When hanging or mounting objects to a wall, it’s best to drive the nail or screw into a wall stud. But how do you know exactly where the studs are?

You could purchase an electronic stud finder, but they’re not very reliable. Here’s a simple way to locate studs, using items you probably already have on hand.

First, get a small magnet and tape it to a length of string. Then, hold the end of the string and slide the magnet along the wall about four feet above the floor.

When the magnet passes over a nail or screw, it’ll stick in place, indicating the location of a stud. 

Watch: Find Studs Without a Stud Finder 

Paint Color Reminder — Here’s a clever way to remember wall paint colors: Write the paint’s brand and color on a piece of paper and then stick it to the back of the light-switch cover plate in the room. Then, when it’s time to repaint, just remove the cover plate to discover which paint to buy.

You can also ask the associate at the paint department to print out an extra sticker with all the paint’s information.

Question of the Week

Q: I have a paver driveway that’s made up of six-by-nine-inch concrete pavers. I want to reseal and re-sand it, but the gaps between the pavers are very small, only about 1/16- to 1/8-inch wide. I’d like to use polymeric sand but heard that it’s only good for joints measuring a quarter inch or larger. We get pretty heavy rain here in north Florida, and I’d like to prevent the sand from being washed out.

A: You can still use polymeric sand because it will hold up better than other types of fine sand that will inevitably wash away, even if you put the sealer on it or not. You can also try Quikrete PowerLoc Jointing Sand. When putting sand down on the surface, sweep your broom at a 45-degree angle to force that sand in there. Once you get it nice and clean, saturate it with sealer using a pump-up garden sprayer. Apply two to three even coats. This will repel stains and allow the sand to lock in between the pavers.

Further Reading


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