Insulation Workers, Mechanical
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Insulation workers, also called insulators, install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems. Insulators generally work indoors in residential and commercial settings. Mechanical insulators work both indoors and outdoors. They spend most of their workday standing, bending, or kneeling, often in confined spaces. Insulators typically do the following:
- Remove and dispose of old insulation
- Review blueprints and specifications to determine the amount and type of insulation needed
- Measure and cut insulation to fit into walls and around pipes
- Secure insulation with staples, tape, or screws
- Use air compressors to spray foam insulation
- Install plastic barriers to protect insulation from moisture
Insulated buildings save energy by keeping heat in during the winter and out in the summer. Insulated vats, vessels, boilers, steam pipes, and water pipes prevent the loss of heat or cold and prevent burns. In addition, insulation helps reduce noise that passes through walls and ceilings.
Insulators often must remove old insulation when renovating buildings. 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.
Insulators use common hand tools, such as knives and scissors. They also may use a variety of power tools, such as power saws to cut insulating materials, welders to secure clamps, staple guns to fasten insulation to walls, and air compressors to spray insulation.
Insulators 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. Alternatively, some workers 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 steam pipe, for example, they consider the diameter, thickness, and temperature of the pipe in determining the type of insulation to be used.
Over 1600 Insulation Worker jobs expected in the Gulf Coast Region by the year 2028.
Insulation Workers are well-paid positions without a postsecondary degree requirement and the Gulf Coast Region will need over 200 more of per year.
How do you become an HVAC Mechanic and Installer?
There are no specific education requirements for floor, ceiling, and wall insulators. Mechanical insulators should have a high school diploma. High school courses in basic math, woodworking, mechanical drawing, algebra, and general science are considered helpful for all types of insulators.
Most floor, ceiling, and wall insulators learn their trade on the job. New workers are provided basic instruction on installation as well as mandatory Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training on handling insulation and asbestos. Insulators who install blown or sprayed insulation will work alongside more experienced workers to learn how to operate equipment before being tasked with leading a spray installation job.
Many mechanical insulators learn their trade through a 4-year apprenticeship. Some apprenticeships may last up to 5 years. For each year of a typical program, apprentices complete at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training.
Unions and individual contractors offer apprenticeship programs. Although most insulators start out by entering apprenticeships directly, others begin by working as helpers. The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers provides contact information on local union chapters.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Insulation workers who remove and handle asbestos must be trained through a program accredited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The National Insulation Association offers a certification for mechanical insulators who conduct energy appraisals to determine if and how insulation can benefit industrial customers.
What kind of Qualities do Insulation workers cover?
Dexterity. Insulators often reach above their heads to install insulation, sometimes in confined spaces, where maneuvering can be difficult.
Math skills. Mechanical insulators need to measure the size of the equipment or pipe they are insulating to determine the amount and dimensions of insulation needed.
Mechanical skills. Insulators use a variety of hand and power tools to install insulation. Those who apply foam insulation, for example, must be able to operate and maintain an air compressor and sprayer to spread the foam onto walls or across attics.
Physical stamina. Insulators spend much of the workday standing, kneeling, and bending in uncomfortable positions.
Gulf Coast Region Insulation Workers Programs Community Colleges Offering Training Depending on Demand
- Brazosport College
- College of the Mainland
- Houston Community College System
- Lee College
- Lone Star College
- San Jacinto College
- Wharton County Junior College
Major Employers in the Region
- American Residential Services
- Carrier Corporation
- Comfort Systems USA
- Graco Mechanical, Inc.
- Graves Mechanical, Inc.
- Houston Comfort Air Conditioning
- Letsos Company
- Mesa Mechanical Inc
- Raven Mechanical Inc
- RDS Air Conditioning & Heating
- Systems Commissioning Inc
- TD Industries
If you have questions about our Industry/Occupation Profiles or are an organization in the Gulf Coast Region, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
|*Includes the following counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller, and Wharton.|