Friday, September 2, 2016

Adventures in Insulation

We'd never done it before, though we've lived in several houses that could have used it. But in this 1974 house, it couldn't be ignored. The house had almost NO attic insulation left. What was there had compressed so much, it only measured a couple of inches in most spots. As in two inches--nowhere near where it should be.

So we decided blowing in attic insulation would be high on our priority list in renovating this house. We moved in at the beginning of the summer, and in Texas, there was no way I was going to send my husband up into the attic in the sweltering heat, possibly to never find him alive again. (And I wasn't volunteering myself, that's for sure!) We did, however, want it done before winter.

Phase one of the project involved my husband installing an attic pull-down ladder. Instead of expanding the woefully tiny attic access that only the circus tall-man could have slipped his skinny little body through, he chose to create a new space where the ladder could be easily accessed and sturdily attached to the ceiling joists. (Later he did trim out the hole so it doesn't look quite this rough.)


Once we had comfortable attic access, we scheduled the day for blowing insulation. The first Friday evening in October, we prepared everything we needed. By purchasing the insulation from Lowe's, we were able to borrow the hopper free of charge for 24-hours (with a ten package minimum purchase, which was about a quarter of the amount we used). Using charts we found online and in the store, we calculated the number of "bales" we thought we needed for the size of our home and the existing amount of insulation, and loaded our garage for an early morning.

Not having any idea how long this little project would take us, we got up at dawn-thirty on a cool Saturday morning and hoped we wouldn't make too many enemies in our neighborhood with our racket. We hooked up the hopper--which consisted of plugging it in and dragging the hose up the attic ladder to the furthest point in the attic.

My job was easy: making sure the hopper didn't get low. So basically, I just fed the monster all day long. It was noisy and dirty and completely boring. Pretty much almost as soon as I opened the plastic and pulled off chunks of the insulation (which came off rather easily) and dropped them into the churning hopper. I was pretty happy with the insulation we chose. It was clean and easy to use, and the hopper never got stuck.

My husband's job was just a tiny bit harder, but mostly on his knees and his head. His mission was to wrangle the hose, angling it over our cathedral ceiling and into each crevice, while simultaneously making sure not to fall between the ceiling joists. All the while, he needed to remember to make sure his head didn't get snagged on the roofing nails that jutted out like a medieval torture device.

It took approximately 7 hours and 39 packages of the GreenFiber R-13 to R-60 to insulate our home. One of the easiest (says me, who only had to stand there) and most effective projects to date.

You Will Also Need:

Make sure each of you also has a good air mask and goggles (personally, I would spring for the anti-fog variety so you can actually see what you're doing).

And a MUST for the person in the attic: a headlamp for hands-free light!

Tip I wish we'd been smart enough to consider:

Make sure to do any electrical work BEFORE doing this. We are still planning to install recessed lights in the kitchen. Now hubby will have to dig through his hard work in the attic to get access. Eh, but why make it easy on him, right?