Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems to help control and maintain temperature. Workers are often referred to as insulators.
Insulation workers typically do the following:
Properly insulated buildings save energy by keeping heat in during the winter and out in the summer. Insulated vats, vessels, boilers, steam pipes, and hot-water pipes also prevent the wasteful loss of heat or cold and prevent burns. Insulation also 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, specially trained workers are required to remove asbestos before insulation workers can install the new insulating materials. For more information, see the profile on hazardous materials removal workers.
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 onto walls.
Workers sometimes wrap a cover of aluminum, sheet metal, or vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the insulation. Doing so protects the insulation by keeping moisture out.
The following are examples of insulation workers:
Floor, ceiling, and wall insulators install insulation in attics, 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 pipes or ductwork in businesses, factories, and many other types of buildings. When insulating a steam pipe, for example, the temperature, thickness, and diameter of the pipe are all factors that determine the type of insulation to be used.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition