Buurrrr. Growing up in Southern California, I never experienced cold like I do now. Sure there were nights that got below freezing and visiting the mountains when it was snowing, but living in it everyday is a whole different story.One thing I noticed is that our house was not well insulated. Since I now own my home, I might as well do something about it. One clue that the house is poorly insulated, is the presence of melted snow and an ice dam on the roof. Both were present.
Crawling into the attic reveled two items of concern. One there was only about 4inches of fiberglass insulation, with many holes in the insulation network. The other bad thing was that highest point in the attic allowed for only crawling. There was no way I could access the edge of the attic near the eves and exterior walls. I tried cutting sections of batting material and stuffing them to the edges with sticks and broom handles. This was exhausting, time consuming work in the dark confounds of the attic. After about an hour of toil, I had only installed a single roll. I had estimated 20 rolls to do the job.
The solution to my problem was blow in insulation. This was perfect cause all I needed was to drag a hose into the attic and fill the voids with insulating material. I did a quick search and found that Home Depot carried Green Fiber brand cellulose insulation. Each bail covered 40Sq Ft, at $10.67 a bail. HD was having a special: free machine rental with 10 bag purchase, I think it might usually be 20 bails for the free rental. It was calculated that 40 bails were needed to properly insulated the attic space of my house. On the first trip down to HD I was able to get the machine and 20 bails in my truck.
There are several benefits of Green Fiber insulation other than the ease of installation. It is made of 85% recycled material. Both post consumer and post industrial. In fact this stuff looks like rats nest material. Basically chewed up newspaper. I even found some cereal boxes in the mix. Having shredded newspaper fill your house sounds like a receipt for a house fire, so this stuff in fire resistant. It is processed with a broate solution. When burned the cellulose material chars and forms a non flammable barrier. All this is while being non-corrosive, and formaldehyde-free.
The machine comes with 2, 50 foot long hoses. Set the machine up outside, cause it really makes a mess. Then I dragged hose up into the attic. The machine reminds me of a yard chipper. You feed the compressed Green Fiber material into the machine and it breaks it up and shoots it down the pipe. Make sure the flap is pulled back to allow the material to enter the delivery hose. This is a minimal 2 person job. One to feed the machine, one of spray the insulation. Three or four people would make this job even easier. Since it helps to have someone man the hose, and help with communication. I used a walkie talkie to communicate with the machine operator. It was helpful to know how much material I had left and when to turn the machine on and off.
Prior to actually blowing in the material some prep work needs to be done. Hot vent pipes and reccesed light fixtures need to be boxed off. I did a rather minimal job with pieces of plywood. Blowing in this stuff is one of the dirtier jobs ever. So much dust is created that you really need to protect yourself. The ideal thing to use is a full face respiratory that covers up your face and eyes. I used a half mask respirator and ski goggles with clear lenses. A dusk mask can be used if you can get it to seal up well enough. The attic space at my house was unlit and thus I also needed flashlights and head lamps. Because of the close quarters and darkness, once the machine started blowing I had 2 feet of visibility. That means I had no idea where I was spraying the material. I had to take several breaks to let the dust settle in order to see my work.
After about an hour and a half of blowing I finished 20 bails. However there was several "holes" in my insulation network. I estimated 10 more bails would finish off the job. So the next night it was back up into the attic to spray some more fluff into the house. The result was another 4 inches or so of insulation. However all of the entire ceiling was now completely insulated.
Well was it worth it. For about $350 worth of material and two nights worth of work it defiantly is. Before the upstairs would get cold as the fire started to die out. Now we forget the fire has run down and sometimes dies cause we do not have the cold to remind us. The upstairs rooms do not drop in temperature dramaticly as you walk past each door away from the fire. I am very happy that I did this and only wish I did this in the fall so that I could have enjoy the fruits of my labor all winter instead of just the second half.