Checking ceiling insulation
It's worth checking your insulation occasionally to ensure it is still working effectively. It may never have been up to today’s standard, may have been damaged by people working in the ceiling space or slumped towards a heat source, creating a fire risk.
DIY insulation check
If you can do it safely, get a step-ladder and peek through the hatch of your ceiling into your roof space to see if you have insulation.
You will need to add a top-up layer of insulation if there is some insulation, if it:
- is less than 12cm thick (it should be thicker than the height of the ceiling joists)
- doesn't cover the whole ceiling
- has gaps in it, or places where it is squashed or tucked in.
You need to remove the old insulation and start again with a new layer, if:
- it is wet or damp in areas
- has been damaged by rodents or birds.
Also check safety gaps between insulation and heat sources like recessed downlights, chimneys, flues or extractor fans for fire safety including:
|Heat source||Safety gap needed|
|Recessed downlights NOT marked either CA80, CA90, CA135, IC, IC-F or IC-4 (look for a label on top). This generally includes all downlights installed before mid-2012, but may also apply to some downlights that have been installed more recently.||100mm minimum gap (unless manufacturer’s instructions are available and say otherwise).|
|Recessed downlights marked either CA80, CA90, CA135 (look for a label on top)||Compatible bulk insulation can touch the sides of the downlight, but must not cover it. Loose-fill insulation typically requires a guard or barrier to prevent it from getting in direct contact with the downlight.|
|Recessed downlights marked either IC, IC-F or IC-4 (look for a label on top)||Compatible bulk insulation can cover the downlight. Loose-fill insulation typically requires a guard or barrier to prevent it from getting in direct contact with the downlight.|
|Downlight transformers, ballasts and drivers
||Must be either placed on top of insulation or require a 50mm minimum gap.|
|3-in-1 fan/heat/light units||100mm|
|Other lamps in the roof space||200mm|
|Unducted extractor fans and rangehoods (insulation can get trapped in these, causing the motor to overheat)||200mm|
|Ducted extractor fans and rangehoods||100mm|
|Brick or concrete chimneys||50mm|
Metal chimneys or flues
Refer to New Zealand Standard NZS 4246:2016 Appendix A for full details of the requirements.
If you have loose-fill insulation, you should use permanently fixed collars made of fire-resistant materials. The collars should extend at least 75mm above the insulation layer.
Professional insulation check
If you can't check your own insulation, or aren't sure if you need any, get a professional to come and have a look for you - this service is often free of charge. Look for an installer who:
- works to the New Zealand insulation installation standard NZS 4246:2016
- and has completed the insulation installer training of the Insulation Association of New Zealand (IAONZ).
The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme offers funding towards ceiling and underfloor insulation for low-income home owners and tenants.