When Was Fiberglass Insulation First Used?

December 29, 2015

Our ancient ancestors may not have had science in mind as much as survival. Blustery winters, sweltering summers, beastly environments, aggressive wildlife and the latest advances in transportation technology (the wagon wheel) didn’t help much in steering their intellects to the nuances of fiberglass insulation.

Matters of effective uses of different types of insulation material as it reflected the latest developments in geological research didn’t rank high on their list of priorities. While the ancients used whatever raw material they could get a hold of to keep their homes toasty and secure, the question for Capitol Machine historians is: When was fiberglass insulation first used?

Here is the history – in a whirlwind nutshell.

Early home builders didn’t put a lot of thought into home insulation. Even with the advent of electricity and home heating at the turn of the 20th century, insulation was rarely considered. That’s mostly because utility costs were so inexpensive in the early 1900s.

The idea of using insulation to block and retain heat originated from research in France in the early 1800s. But it took many decades before builders and manufacturers made practical application of insulation to protect workers, homeowners and equipment.

fiber glass doesn't conduct heat or electricity, but instead traps it.

Benjamin Franklin’s Stove Advances Insulation Ideas

Benjamin Franklin’s stove invention helped propel the insulation movement forward. Most homes in Franklin’s 18th century relied on fireplaces, which were used primarily for cooking.

The discovery of fiberglass – in its present form as insulation in most homes today – came accidentally in the early 1930s as Dale Kleist was attempting to seal two plates of glass with an airtight vacuum in his lab. A high-pressure hose accidentally turned on, shredding the glass plates into tiny fibers. Kleist spent the next six years developing the process before offering the material for mass production.

Extremely fire-resistant, asbestos insulation’s popularity rose during this time but soon faded when researchers discovered the fibers could cause cancer and mesothelioma.

Glass fibers (fiberglass), which don’t conduct heat or electricity, trap air and reduce the flow of heat. Fiberglass is considered the most effective form of insulation material for homes.

What do you think about fiberglass home insulation? We at Capitol Machine offer a wide variety of insulation machinesinsulation blowers and insulation removal vacuums.  Contact us with questions or for more information.