Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems to help control and maintain the temperatures in buildings. These workers are often referred to as insulators.
Insulation workers typically do the following:
Remove old insulation and dispose of it properly
Read blueprints and specifications to determine the requirements of the job
Determine the amount and type of insulation needed
Measure and cut insulation to fit into walls and around pipes
Fasten insulation in place with staples, tape, or screws
Use compressors to spray insulation into some spaces
Install plastic barriers to protect insulation from moisture
Follow safety guidelines
Properly insulated buildings save energy by keeping heat in during the winter and out in the summer. Insulated vats, vessels, boilers, steampipes, and hot-water pipes also prevent the wasteful loss of heat or cold and prevent burns. In addition, insulation helps reduce noise that passes through walls and ceilings.
When renovating old buildings, insulators often must remove the old insulation. In the past, asbestos—now known to cause cancer—was used extensively to insulate walls, ceilings, pipes, and industrial equipment. Because of this danger, hazardous materials removal workers or specially trained insulators are required to remove asbestos before workers can begin installation.
Insulation workers use common hand tools, such as knives and scissors. They also may use a variety of power tools, including power saws to cut insulating materials, welders to secure clamps, and staple guns to fasten insulation to walls. Some insulators use compressors to spray insulation.
Workers sometimes wrap a cover of aluminum, sheet metal, or vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the insulation. Doing so protects the insulation from contact damage and keeps moisture out.
Floor, ceiling, and wall insulators install insulation in attics, under floors, and behind walls in homes and other buildings. Most of these workers unroll, cut, fit, and staple batts of fiberglass insulation between wall studs and ceiling joists. Some workers, however, spray foam insulation with a compressor hose into the space being filled.
Mechanical insulators apply insulation to equipment, pipes, or ductwork in businesses, factories, and many other types of buildings. When insulating a steampipe, for example, they consider the temperature, thickness, and diameter of the pipe in determining the type of insulation to be used.