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Old 01-23-2011, 02:58 PM   #1
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


So I got the great idea of reinsulating my attic this weekend and it didn't go too well. I had a friend over lending me a hand and we decided to backout about an hour into the job. Originally I was planning on removing everything (bad idea) and starting from scratch with R-30 faced batts between the joists and then a second layer of unfaced R30 rolls perpendiular to the joists. Man...did I underesitmate that job! I initially thought that it was mostly FG batts but it turned out to be mostly the blown in stuff and it was getting nasty up there. So I had to stop and rethink the whole thing before I got in too deep. So, now I'm faced with the right way to do this. I have 2X6 joists, there are planks and plywood throughout the center runway of the attic and a mixture of very old and nasty insulation. I wanted to remove everything because it's such a god awful mess up there but the job is just not worth it. So what should I do here? I was thinking of removing all of the floor boards and spraying cellulose to the top of the joists in the center and a higher on the sides. Should I then blow it on top of the floor boards once I put them back down? I'm more concerned with having the insulation factor over storage so that's not an issue. I guess the other issue I have is that some of the batts are unfaced. Is it ok to just go on top of everything even though not all of the batts are faced? I've been racking my brain ove this so any help would be greatly appreciated. BTW, my housr is a ranch over 50 years old with a 1000 sq ft attic.

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Old 01-23-2011, 03:05 PM   #2
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


Not sure there's any benefit to replacing the boards.

I would just pull them and blow in new on top of the old to your desired R value.

Once you have blown in you will not be able to store anything on top of it anyway.

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Old 01-23-2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


I would prefer to put the floorboards back down because I may need to go back up there from time to time and if its all blown it's going to be pretty difficult, not to mention slippery, to walk around on the joists. So I guess my question is geared more towards the process of adding the insualtion. Does my method sound ok? Would you do it differently? And considering the circumstances will I obtain good insluation if I blow in cellulose over all of the old stuff. I can attach pics if it helps... Thanks for your reply.
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:45 PM   #4
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


So you wanted to put in an R-60 batt insulation into the house attic. But you want a section of flooring over the 2x6's?
To get a consistant R value, you will need to build up the flooring area to a height consistant with the insulation value in the rest of the attic.
All the batts should be unfaced.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:38 PM   #5
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Actually, my mistake. I was going to put R30 faced batts in between the joists but that was before I realized that I only had 2x6s. Since the R30 is 9" high I figured it would be best to go with R19 which is 6" high and stick with the R30 unfaced rolls on top of that for a total R value of 49, which is way better than what I have now. And remember, this is when I thought I was removing all of the old and replacing with new. Since the job just isn't worth doing that way I figured I should just do what everyone suggests and blow in over top of the old stuff. I did read about building up the floor joists and I was thinking about doing that but that seems like a lot of work as well.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:46 AM   #6
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


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Originally Posted by musekmkr View Post
Actually, my mistake. I was going to put R30 faced batts in between the joists but that was before I realized that I only had 2x6s. Since the R30 is 9" high I figured it would be best to go with R19 which is 6" high and stick with the R30 unfaced rolls on top of that for a total R value of 49, which is way better than what I have now. And remember, this is when I thought I was removing all of the old and replacing with new. Since the job just isn't worth doing that way I figured I should just do what everyone suggests and blow in over top of the old stuff. I did read about building up the floor joists and I was thinking about doing that but that seems like a lot of work as well.
Doing a similar project in my 1000 sq ft attic. Was originally going to increase my insulation and lay new R-30 on top of my existing batt insulation. Well the existing batt insulation was down incorrectly, vapor barrier up. To correct the mistake, the previous owner or someone slit the face to release any moisture. OK fine, but I didn't feel comfortable laying the new on top anyway. So, I decided to remove the old batts and put down new with vapor barrier down. Well, the old batts were only R-11, but with about 3" of loose fiberglass underneath. Ugh! Well, I paused like you. Now a much more extensive project. I am going forward. Removing the batts & loose, putting down new R-19 (face down), then R-30 on top. Putting in a floor from front to back around my AC unit. R-30 will be on top. No storage. Have to do this on weekends, so this is a looooonng project. I have heard that blown in would be supply more R value, maybe easier, but since I am doing this in job in the winter (to avoid the heat of the attic), and in stages, removing the old quickly is not possible as a one man crew. The biggest benefit from this nightmare project has been the opportunity to AIR SEAL the attic floor. All kinds of exposed air leaks found. Including an entire bathroom wall. I am saving some of the old batts, just removing the face to use where needed. Going to go one better and put in a eave baffles, ridge vent and soffit vents - just gables now... some frost. Good Luck - 1963 PA house

Last edited by nickelshine; 01-24-2011 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 01-24-2011, 03:20 PM   #7
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


Thanks for your response, Nickelshine. I like to hear that you're moving forward with it. I'm not sure whos house is worse but I bet I have you beat It sounds like our setup is pretty similar though. I am still unsure what to do. Again I would prefer to remove the old and start fresh but if I were going to do that I think I would need an insulation vacuum or better yet a vacuum truck. Removing everything does give you a great opportunity to air seal everything which is very important and I was looking forward to getting that done as well. I am a one man show too so it would take some time if done manually....which I've already attempted.
I did manage to clear the insulation from the eaves and install the baffle vents though....so I did make some progress. I too have gable vents with vented soffit panels. I also plan on installing a ridge vent and adding more vented sofit panels when I get my roof done.

But for right now I am still stuck on the best way to do the insulation. Here are my thoughts.

A. Blow-in cellulose over top of EVERYTHING and just forget about ever going up there again

B. Same as above but actually remove the floor boards and raise the joists first. This will allow more insulation between the joists while still keeping the flooring up there.

C. Attempt to remove everything again and go with the original plan only this time with a commercial vac intended for the job...
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Old 01-24-2011, 04:03 PM   #8
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


Check locally for someone that removes insulation professionally, then air seal it yourself; http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Pr...s/Step-By-Step
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...O842EQ&cad=rja

Use different than R-30 with inherent convective loops or add cellulose or blanket on top; http://www.diychatroom.com/f98/how-b...ulation-90438/

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Old 01-24-2011, 04:44 PM   #9
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Thanks, Gary. Ironically I was reading that same article from familyhandyman last week. I was thinking about it the other day but couldn't remember what site I was on...since I've been all over the web researching... thanks for that.

So you're saying that you would remove everything then? I'll try to post some pics tonight so everyone can see what I'm up against.

thanks for the input thus far.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:45 PM   #10
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


Great article on insulating attics especially the fact the you should seal parts of it first: http://www.buildingscience.com/docum...rces/retrofits
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Old 01-25-2011, 10:33 PM   #11
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Some pics of the mess...

http://picasaweb.google.com/bill.mey...eat=directlink
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Old 01-26-2011, 08:49 AM   #12
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


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Originally Posted by musekmkr View Post
Musekmkr, I am in a very similar boat. My batt insulation is installed backwards. Between my joists I have the same insulation shown in your pictures, that yellow looking blown in stuff. Not sure if that's fiberglass or cellulose? I wanted to rip everything out as well but I just know how hard that will be. It's such a nightmare in my attic and the thought of ripping that all out is just monumental, back breaking, miserable, work even with help from a friend.

You have me an idea though of raising the joists giving more room for insulation between the joists. How would you go abouts doing that? One of my fears of simply blowing over top of what i have or removing my batts and blowing is sometimes I need to get up there to do house work. It's not often but how the hec do you work up there with 12+ inches of blown in insulation. Gotta be a nightmare, at least w/ batts you can roll them back a bit. Decisions decisions......I might just blow on top and h with it.

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Old 01-26-2011, 04:20 PM   #13
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


Muse, cut back the wood boards from around the chimney and HVAC vent pipe, then flash around them with sheet tin and fire-proof foam in a can; http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/p...ap4.cfm?attr=4

Shorten up the flex duct and/or change it to straight wall for the bath fan to the gable, then insulate and v.b. it to prevent condensation inside. Add joists that bear on 1/2" shims over the existing bearing walls with end rim joists to keep them from rotating if using as an access walkway. I would toss the old f.g. and paper retarder as it's clumpy and useless.

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Old 01-26-2011, 07:56 PM   #14
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Attic Insulation Nightmare


You have a lot more floorboards up there than you really need. I addded 18" of insulation to my attic last fall. ( Over top of loose fill ) I put in a raised walkway along the center of the attic, perhaps 18" wide. The walkway was the easiest part of the project, and my attic was in far better (neater) shape than yours. It would be nice to get rid of all that old stuff, but I wonder if its worth the trouble.
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Old 01-26-2011, 09:33 PM   #15
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cbaur88 - I hear ya about trying to work up there after the insulation is blown in and that's totally why I wanted to use the FG rolls so I could at least just move them out of the way if I had to access the ceiling, as you mentioned. As far as raising the joists, it is recommended if you have 2x6 joists. From what I read you literally just piggy back the joists with 2x4s. You can toe nail them in or drill holes in the top of the 2x4s and screw them in with long deck screws. I was thinking about using brackets to secure them but that may be overkill. Good luck with your project! I'll try to post pics when I finally get this done. I'm having a couple of pros come take a look and see what they'd recommend and charge. Anyone have a rough idea on what someone would charge to remove all or some and then blow in cellulose and maybe do the air sealing too? HD wants to charge $1 sq ft at R19. Seems way pricey...

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