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Old 06-18-2011, 10:07 AM   #1
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Problems after cellulose insulation installation


My landlord installed cellulose insulation in the attic a few months ago. At first I was thrilled because I thought it would help the heat in the summer. But it has been a nightmare.

Right after it was installed, I came home from work and was assaulted by a terrible smell. At first, I thought one of my cats had peed in the house -- I searched everywhere. Then I realized the smell was coming from the A/C vents. The landlord and the insulation company assured me this smell would abate quickly. It never has.

The only relief I got was when it was cool enough for a week or so in May not to need the A/C. The smell is always there. It's gotten a little less intense (or I've become immune), but it's bad enough that my friends don't want to be in my house.

The landlord has had 2 different A/C guys come out to take a look, and they both swear the A/C is fine and not pulling air from the attic. They also say the attic doesn't smell. And of course they tell the landlord that it smells like cat and I have 2 cats -- so it must be my fault.

Meanwhile, I've noticed that some things I have in my pantry seem to have been affected by high humidity -- powdered drink packets that have solidified and cereal that has stuck together like a rock.

I'm at my wit's end. I don't know what else to do or how to prove that the problem is related to the insulation and the smell is coming from the A/C. I just want it fixed.

Any ideas? Please help!

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Old 06-18-2011, 10:49 AM   #2
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Problems after cellulose insulation installation


Your house and attic may have been MORE loose and drafty B4 the insulation was added. If you have extra humidity now it can be because the AC is not cooling properly and removing enough humidity. We get the same problem where I am when we put in high efficiency furnaces and get rid of the chimney. House is more airtight and saves NRG but the humidity is trapped in the house and goes up. I would go HDepot and buy a high quality Bionaire table top humidity gauge (hygrometer) to see what the humidity level really is. DO NOT buy the el cheapo ones as they are notoriously inaccurate. Can be out as much as 5-10% RH as compared to my Pro gauge. Get them to check the freon level and make sure the AC is cooling 100%.

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Old 06-18-2011, 11:38 AM   #3
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Problems after cellulose insulation installation


Urine smell can be caused by critters such as raccoon's or feral cats getting into the attic. As for the drink mixes and cereal sticking together, sounds like the A/C is not being ran, which would be the culprit of this. Until the OP posts back on this, this may just be a one hit poster like most that show up on this forum.
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Old 06-18-2011, 11:52 AM   #4
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Problems after cellulose insulation installation


'Move out' is the only solution. Tell them the smell makes you sick. You can get out there without too much problem due to health reason.
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Old 06-18-2011, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Urine smell can be caused by critters such as raccoon's or feral cats getting into the attic. As for the drink mixes and cereal sticking together, sounds like the A/C is not being ran, which would be the culprit of this. Until the OP posts back on this, this may just be a one hit poster like most that show up on this forum.
Feral Cats, I have heard they can be pretty mean. Sounds like this poster could use a few to take care of his mice problem
mice in furnace through outside air inlet
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Problems after cellulose insulation installation-feral-cat-1.jpg   Problems after cellulose insulation installation-feral_cat_virginia_crop.jpg  
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Old 06-18-2011, 12:34 PM   #6
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My mom took one into her care. It took a group of us to remove it from the house and toss it outside. Told my mom to never ever take one into her care, because they are not easy to domesticate. The damage it caused was that it tore into the bottom of the mattresses and scratched up a lot of furniture.
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Old 06-18-2011, 12:48 PM   #7
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The first guy looks like he means business.

The second one has soulful eyes and looks rather harmless.

I prefer dogs.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:35 PM   #8
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I'm in Dallas, and we're getting up to over 100 every day right now, so the A/C is always on. In fact, I don't have the option of turning it on -- I can set the temp as low as 65 or as high as 80, but I do not have on/off control -- the office controls that.

The landlord says his A/C guy went up in the attic and moved some insulation around but didn't smell anything or find any problems.

Yes, I realize moving is an option, but it's not the option I would prefer. Except for this new problem, this place is great & affordable. I've got it painted & decorated just like I want. Moving is such a pain. The landlord is perfectly willing to let me out of the lease, though.

The A/C is cooling a lot better than last year -- probably because of the insulation. Last summer was almost unbearably hot.

The only thing I know to do is to get up in the attic myself -- but I don't even know what to look for.

I don't think I'm going to buy a humidity gauge -- sounds expensive.

Is there a type of professional who could help me out with this? It seems like the A/C guys have both been useless and very quick to blame the problems on my cats.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:40 PM   #9
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Humidity gauge = less than $40. There are professional indoor air quality testing companies who can tell you what the smell really is but you have to pay a few hundred bucks to have an analysis done and get a written report, if it is toxic then you can get the rentalsman to lean on the landlord. Other option is to move.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:46 PM   #10
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The landlord has already shelled out about $300-400 trying to get this figured out, along with the rent rebate he gave me for April (I think he now owes me May & June too).

I'm thinking I should buy a black light, just to prove it's not the cats. Then I would suggest hiring one of these guys and agreeing to pay the price myself if the cats are the problem (since I KNOW they are not). My cat box is on the balcony, by the way.

What should I be looking for in an air quality company? Can you refer any?
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:07 PM   #11
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Problems after cellulose insulation installation


Kill the cats. Get your apt professionally clean and leave the landlord along.
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:08 PM   #12
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I am not a cat psychologist but I have heard that if they get upset or have a change in their routine or you bring a new person into your life etc etc they can get insulted/vindictive and pee on the rugs/shoes etc when you are not home so you never know what they are up to/capable of. Go to the yellow pages and check for indoor air quality testing or environmental testing.
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Old 06-18-2011, 08:04 PM   #13
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The cats certainly are not capable of peeing on the ceiling. And the smell only comes from the A/C. It has been the same smell since the insulation was installed.

Has no one else had this issue with cellulose insulation?
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:19 PM   #14
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Have you Google'd anything like "wet spray applied cellulose insulation (WSACI)" or simply "cellulose insulation ammonia smell" ? Seems to be quite a bit of info about this issue and the like. Don't know if thats what you had done or not, but it might be a good starting point.

I wouldn't think it would be applied like that (WSACI) in an attic area, or at least it's never done around here like that, except on vertical installs - like walls.

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Old 06-18-2011, 10:42 PM   #15
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Myabigail, your LL is full of crap, or you took this hook line and sinker. Until there is evidential proof that something is going one, and pictures backing up, I would say, the first thing you need to do, if this is true is contact the agency that handles renters in your area, and public health.

The smell if it is true, can be caused by anything, but taking a persons word is not going to confirm it. I have seen too many posts on the Internet, that in the twenty something years that it has been around, those that want to pull a leash on people, has gotten worst in the past year, than it was five years ago.

If this situation is true, the first thing I would have done, is investigated it myself, vs. posting on some random web forum. Also, when insulation is blown in, it smells like dust, not urine. A smell of urine means that either rats, raccoons, or feral cats have taken residence, not a upgrade in the structure.

Post some pictures of the attic space, post a report from a environmental engineer, along with a public health report.

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