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Old 11-09-2011, 04:24 PM   #1
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


So, after living in our house for almost 5 years, I decided to venture up to the attic. Attic = spiders, so I've only been up there one single time before Monday.

I vacuumed the air as I walked so that I was spiderweb free, and got a good look at the insulation. Um... what insulation?

There is some vermiculite up there, and some ancient pink stuff, some with foil back, some with kraft back, some with no back, some mostly gone... but there are MANY places where there is just the back of the plaster and lath ceiling. No wonder it's so darn expensive to keep our house at 55 degrees.

Anyway, using R30 as a marking point because that's the easiest to compare across materials it will cost:

fiberglass non-faced, $10 a roll, 33 sqft a roll, 42 rolls needed, $420
cellulose blown in, $11 a bag, 21 sq ft a bag, 66 bags needed, $733
fiberglass blown in, $30 a bag, 65 sqft in a bag, 21 bags needed, $646

Now, I'm willing to spend more money if there is a reason to spend more money, but will I really get 60% more benefit from blown in cellulose over fiberglass rolls? Or 50% more benefit from fiberglass blown in? Isn't r-value r-value? I understand cellulose compresses over time, so it loses a little, but I'm trying to compare apples to apples here.

And Friday, I'm having someone out to give me a quote on spray foam, just so I know how much I can't afford.

For all of the other issues in the house, air leakage isn't one of them. We don't have drafts upstairs at all really. That was tested a few years ago with one of the big-blower-in-the-front-door things.


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Old 11-09-2011, 09:27 PM   #2
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


I'll get you started here: The "biggest loser" in fiberglass insulation....

Gary

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Old 11-10-2011, 08:51 AM   #3
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


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I'll get you started here: The "biggest loser" in fiberglass insulation....

Gary
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:35 PM   #4
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


Insulation installer just left and will be mailing a quote. I had requested a quote for foam, but wasn't here for the estimate. He is going to write up a quote for installing fiberglass and then putting foam over that. Not at all what I expected... when he calls me I'm going to ask for a "just foam" quote as well.

And I was wrong, the joists are all 2x12. It appears that the entire attic was done in fiberglass at one point, but it was all ripped out. (major raccoon problem at one point.) There is also a fair amount of vermiculite around up there, but the bulk was taken out when the pink stuff was removed I think.
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:11 PM   #5
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


Is vermiculite still made? Was it any good?
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:51 AM   #6
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


I don't want to overly alarm you, but you should assume that the vermiculite is contaminated with asbestos. It's not as bad as if you had high-friable asbestos pipe blankets, but since you don't have any insulation now you might want to consider having it completely cleaned up before you install new insulation. If most of it is already gone, I don't think it would be too expensive as it would just be a thorough HEPA vacuuming.

http://www.epa.gov/asbestos/pubs/verm.html

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Old 11-12-2011, 10:58 PM   #7
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


I had cellulose blown into my 1200 sq. ft. attic for $350. The difference was immediately noticeable. I live in Phoenix AZ where we have 5 months of 100+ degree heat.
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Old 11-13-2011, 05:36 AM   #8
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I had cellulose blown in into my attic space last Nov. for a lot more money, But it was the best money I ever spent. Besides the comfort level, the saving on my heating bill was immediate and huge. We live in Central Ontario where we have 5 months of minus 100 degrees wind chill ( ok. ok, but it sure feels like it)
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Old 11-13-2011, 07:20 AM   #9
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Abestos doesn't bother me. It's only dangerous when you fuss with it and make dust or otherwise make the fibers inhale-able / airborne. If you leave it alone it will leave you alone. I appreciate the concern though. :-)
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:21 PM   #10
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I'm soooo confused...

I got the quote from the insulation company. I asked for a quote on foam. I got a quote for:

Removal of all current insulation (vermiculite and old, heavily damaged fiberglass batting)
Foam air sealing of edges and other areas
Installation of R12 fiberglass batting
Blown in cellulose over the fiberglass batting to reach a computed total of R39

Not only do they want a fortune for it, but wouldn't the R12 batting compress to nothing under the weight of the blown in cellulose? I'm not planning to use them; didn't quote what I asked for (which annoys the heck out of me), didn't notice the nightmare of current wiring (which just points to lack of attention to detail,) and they are way too expensive anyway. But I'm still confused by what they quoted... any insight?
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:27 PM   #11
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


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Abestos doesn't bother me. It's only dangerous when you fuss with it and make dust or otherwise make the fibers inhale-able / airborne. If you leave it alone it will leave you alone. I appreciate the concern though. :-)
Really????? I keep telling my wife smoking don't bother me either, but I know its killing slowly. So I guess your attic could be a dumping ground for all those asbestos reclaimers........and you wouldn't mind at all.

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Old 11-17-2011, 04:45 PM   #12
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Really????? I keep telling my wife smoking don't bother me either, but I know its killing slowly. So I guess your attic could be a dumping ground for all those asbestos reclaimers........and you wouldn't mind at all.
Yes really. When you don't disturb it, it does not pulverize itself and leap into the air.

Asbestos is dangerous when you mess with it - pulling off asbestos wrapping, breaking asbestos shingles, etc. Just like lead paint - it's dangerous if you sand it or scrape it or eat the paint chips, not if it's just on your walls being left alone.

My father is actually a trainer and inspector for OSHA, and has inspected buildings for asbestos abatement so I actually know a little about this issue. Yes, it is frequently torn out of buildings, but that is actually not necessary, it can also be covered and sealed. And the only reason that is done is so that people don't disturb it. Quite frankly, it's usually torn out because it's a public relations nightmare not because it has to be. If it's deteriorating for some reason, that is a different issue because then it is actively coming apart, and that would make some of it airborne.

Since I'm normally not up there playing in the vermiculite, I see no reason to remove it from my walls or attic. If I was crunching around up there all the time, it would be a different story.
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:48 PM   #13
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I am quite familiar with asbestos and asbestos abatement, but for someone to claim they want it in thier attic in this day and age is completely off the wall. Its one thing to have it an leave it alone, its quite another thing to want it when you don't have it.

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Old 11-17-2011, 05:03 PM   #14
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I am quite familiar with asbestos and asbestos abatement, but for someone to claim they want it in thier attic in this day and age is completely off the wall. Its one thing to have it an leave it alone, its quite another thing to want it when you don't have it.
Want it when I don't have it? What are you talking about?

I said that it's there, that I don't care that it's there, and it just being up there isn't exactly dangerous in and of itself.

Not that I'm looking for more of it. I asked if it was still used for insulation and if it was good because I don't know much about it. Yes, I was aware that it could contain asbestos, I found out about that a few years ago when I bought the house. There are other mines that produce vermiculite, besides the one in Montana that had asbestos in it, so it's possible to still purchase vermiculite that is completely safe.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:20 AM   #15
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1400 sq/ft of basically uninsulated attic


mnp13 is correct.

As long as it is not disturbed and you know it is there, it poses no hazard if handled properly.

It is fantastic as an insulator too!

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