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Old 12-26-2012, 06:19 PM   #1
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Just bought my new home. We just got a $300+ power bill. I got up into the attic to find an incomplete insulation job. Looks like the previous owner blew in some insulation then rolled R-30 over the top of it. I got a price quote from a local contractor to bring the attic to R-49 (almost $1700). I'm doing this myself even if I have to buy 1 or 2 rolls every time I get paid. I don't have the will to crack into savings for this... So anyway, I've done some Google-ing and watched a few vids online. I'm not really getting a comprehensive feel for the information I've gathered thus far. So I thought I'd try my hand at posting some questions on a forum to see what I get:

1) Is the blown-in material supposed to be under the rolled out material, does orientation matter? My inspection notes say the orientation is incorrect. If I have my way, I'm not going to remove any material because in the end I want to get closest to R-60 as I can, def' want to utilize what exists already.
2) Some of the videos I viewed online suggested adding insulation that is rolled perpendicular to the framing. Thoughts?
3) The majority of my lighting is recessed. I want to look over everything to make sure I've addressed any potential fire hazard(s). What do I look for?
4) The videos also mentioned reflective blanket/quilting for the top portion of the roof truss, what are your thoughts on this, worth while or will bringing the attic area closest to R-60 be sufficient without that?
5) Seeing how I've got a lack of insulation in over half the space I feel its a good opportunity to check for other issues that I may not know about. I've got a feeling there may be a lack of sealant whether its foam or caulk. I'm a home improvement green-horn so I'm not sure what to look for, what's necessary, up to code, etc.

Anything else you can add or suggest would be appreciated. Thanks.


Last edited by L2DIY; 12-26-2012 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:22 PM   #2
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Just bought my new home. We just got a $300+ power bill. I got up into the attic to find an incomplete insulation job. Looks like the previous owner blew in some insulation then rolled R-30 over the top of it. I got a price quote from a local contractor to bring the attic to R-49 (almost $1700). I'm doing this myself even if I have to buy 1 or 2 rolls every time I get paid. I don't have the will to crack into savings for this... So anyway, I've done some Google-ing and watched a few vids online. I'm not really getting a comprehensive feel for the information I've gathered thus far. So I thought I'd try my hand at posting some questions on a forum to see what I get:

1) Is the blown-in material supposed to be under the rolled out material, does orientation matter? My inspection notes say the orientation is incorrect. If I have my way, I'm not going to remove any material because in the end I want to get closest to R-60 as I can, def' want to utilize what exists already.

Doesn't matter the order as long is it aligned properly and has good contact with the full attic floor and there are not missing spots.

2) Some of the videos I viewed online suggested adding insulation that is rolled perpendicular to the framing. Thoughts?

That works fine. Parallel is fine to as long as it is complete and unbroken. Going perpendicular is just easier to align it and keep it straight.

3) The majority of my lighting is recessed. I want to look over everything to make sure I've addressed any potential fire hazard(s). What do I look for?

Make sure the cans are Insulation Contact/IC rated (should be indicated and if doesn't say so, assume they aren't). If they aren't or just for good measure, box them out with sheet metal of fireproof drywall.

4) The videos also mentioned reflective blanket/quilting for the top portion of the roof truss, what are your thoughts on this, worth while or will bringing the attic area closest to R-60 be sufficient without that?

Doesn't work in most climates. Stick to the insulation. Radiant barriers only have small application value in certain scenarios.

5) Seeing how I've got a lack of insulation in over half the space I feel its a good opportunity to check for other issues that I may not know about. I've got a feeling there may be a lack of sealant whether its foam or caulk. I'm a home improvement green-horn so I'm not sure what to look for, what's necessary, up to code, etc.

Start reading about air sealing and insulation. Do it prior to insulating and you will be very happy (as will your utility bills) that you did.

Anything else you can add or suggest would be appreciated. Thanks.

Air sealing and Insulation!!!
See above in bold and italics.

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Old 12-26-2012, 08:58 PM   #3
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It would hep to know what area of the country you live in. Insulating techiques in Florida is different that in North Dakota.
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Old 12-26-2012, 10:46 PM   #4
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It would hep to know what area of the country you live in. Insulating techiques in Florida is different that in North Dakota.
I am going to guess it is cold where he/she is given the utility reporting.
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Old 12-27-2012, 01:04 AM   #5
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AFTER you air seal, might it not be a whole lot easier to just blow cellulose over the whole schmear and call it a day? you'll have good insulation that will fill all the voids between the batts and reduce air flow through them. it's pretty fast and cheap, and performs well. it'll keep most of the bugs and critters out, too.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:42 AM   #6
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Blowing in cellulose insulation made from recyled newspaper is an easy 2 person job. One cuts open the bags and pours it into the machine while the other is in the attic with the hose. The big box home improvement stores will let you use there blowing machines for free with a minimum purchase. This is the most economical solution. Wear a mask and eye protection when blowing in the attic.
Make sure you do not block any soffit vents with the cellulose
Attic ventilation is an important and often overlooked area in the attic

Good luck
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:06 AM   #7
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If there is insulation up there, that would not cause your utility bill to be $300. May want to go back and read the breakdown of your bill again, to find out why it is $300.
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:57 AM   #8
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Most heat lost comes from air leaks around the windows and doors.
If you just have old single paned window, not enough insulation in the walls and under the house, house has never been air sealed top and bottom, air leaks around the doors your bill is not going to go down much by just insulating the attic.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:14 AM   #9
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If the rolled insulation has a vapor barrier, I believe it could matter. The Vapor Barrier need to be against the living space.
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Old 12-27-2012, 09:34 AM   #10
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Lets review best practices for air sealing then? This is going to be a pain. I'm assuming scooting back the blown and rolled around the perimeter and then caulking? Sufficient? Should I seal the recessed lighting? I forgot to ask too, the R30 that is installed has the paper on the top of it still, should this be removed? To address the rest, I'm north of Seattle. I have an underrated electric furnace, to be replaced long term. The home was built in 05 so the windows are probably good although I'm doubting they were installed, sealed and insulated properly. Doors seem ok. I did already find that the attic hatch was just a piece of dry wall. So, I put weather stripping around the opening and put 2 1" pieces of foam on top of the cover. I think the video I watched suggested at least 4" of foam there so ill add more but the house already holds the heat so much better just by taking care of the hatch. Thanks so much everyone I didn't expect to get such a well rounded group of responses. Super helpful and appreciated.
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Old 12-27-2012, 10:04 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by L2DIY View Post
Lets review best practices for air sealing then? This is going to be a pain. I'm assuming scooting back the blown and rolled around the perimeter and then caulking? Sufficient? Should I seal the recessed lighting? I forgot to ask too, the R30 that is installed has the paper on the top of it still, should this be removed? To address the rest, I'm north of Seattle. I have an underrated electric furnace, to be replaced long term. The home was built in 05 so the windows are probably good although I'm doubting they were installed, sealed and insulated properly. Doors seem ok. I did already find that the attic hatch was just a piece of dry wall. So, I put weather stripping around the opening and put 2 1" pieces of foam on top of the cover. I think the video I watched suggested at least 4" of foam there so ill add more but the house already holds the heat so much better just by taking care of the hatch. Thanks so much everyone I didn't expect to get such a well rounded group of responses. Super helpful and appreciated.
Start googling about air sealing. You will get an information overload.

  • Box in your can lights for safety and proper air seal
  • No vapor barrier is really necessary but if you re-use the stuff that you have, make sure the paper is facing the living space (warm side).
  • Make sure any duct work is sealed up and not leaking into the attic if it is run through there.
  • Make sure the bath fans are vented to outside.
  • Build up a wall around the hatch so that the insulation doesn't fall back on top of the hatch and 3-4" of foam is ideal with weatherstripping on the perimeter the panel.


Good luck
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:30 AM   #12
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I could be wrong here but I would be watching the weight of the added insulation, if you have old sheet rock with the old type uncoated nails the extra weight could be bad. IMHO if it were mine, I would go with the batts across the joists, at least that would keep the extra weight off the sheet rock. Just a thought.
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Old 12-27-2012, 12:35 PM   #13
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I could be wrong here but I would be watching the weight of the added insulation, if you have old sheet rock with the old type uncoated nails the extra weight could be bad. IMHO if it were mine, I would go with the batts across the joists, at least that would keep the extra weight off the sheet rock. Just a thought.
My plan is to seal, evenly distribute the blow that's there, finish his R30 install and then go perpendicular to finish and get the proper thickness. Thanks again everyone.

One more question, I noticed on my quote from the contractor that there needs to be a dam built around the furnace? How is this done?
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:37 PM   #14
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The air inside your home contains moisture from cooking, bathing, and people. In the winter, this moisture migrates to the dry cold enviroment of the attic. If your fiberglass insulation has kraft paper (which is a vapor barrier) on one side, the paper must be facing the warm side of the house to keep that moisture from going through the insulation. If the paper is on the wrong side, that moisture can become trapped under the paper, wetting or freezing in the fiberglass. In any case, the insuation value of the fiberglass is greatly reduced.
The way I see it, you have 3 choices, flip the insulation over to place the paper against the warm ceiling sheetrock, remove the paper, perforate or cut the paper to allow the moisture to pass through.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L2DIY View Post
My plan is to seal, evenly distribute the blow that's there, finish his R30 install and then go perpendicular to finish and get the proper thickness. Thanks again everyone.

One more question, I noticed on my quote from the contractor that there needs to be a dam built around the furnace? How is this done?
Sheet metal is best.

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