Mechanical insulation is one of the most overlooked engineered technologies in the building sciences. It is often overlooked because mechanical insulation is not easily recognized and experienced through common interactions. If you walk into a room and the lights do not work, you realize there is an electrical problem and will take corrective actions. The same thing can be said if there is no hot water, if the roof leaks, if the air conditioning does not work, etc.
However, if mechanical insulation does not work, the only way you would know is by adjusting your thermostat, which will ultimately lead to higher energy bills.
Typically, an industrial plant will not realize there is an issue with their mechanical insulation until the process is affected or pipes freeze.
Insulation is about creating efficiency. A more efficient industrial process, which uses insulation, will lead to the use of less energy, a lower energy bill and less pollution generated. This is called the 3 E’s: Energy, Economics and Environment.
While it is commonly understood insulation improves efficiency, what is not known is the cost of efficiency.
For companies not utilizing insulation, the monetary savings created by installing mechanical insulation can be tremendous. It is worth the effort to install mechanical insulation or correct any deficiencies, which may exist in an existing mechanical insulation system.
The installation of mechanical insulation will pay for itself within six months to two years. No other energy improvement can create this kind of a savings in such a short period of time.
There are several ways to evaluate mechanical insulation, which range from simple to in-depth. These three basic types of evaluations can be performed individually or combined together to provide a more in-depth level of evaluation. The types of evaluations are:
Inspections - Only a certified mechanical insulation expert should perform a mechanical insulation system inspection or examination. This type of evaluation can determine what parts of the system are missing, damaged, removed, repaired incorrectly, any incorrect materials used, etc. Part of the inspection will verify if insulation was/is installed to the engineered specifications, if the materials used comply with the manufacturer's specifications and if the insulation meets the existing building codes requirements.