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Old 09-30-2009, 10:35 AM   #1
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


I just moved into a foreclosure (a townhouse) last month. I knew it didnt have much insulation, but little did I know how little. Think 3 inches of blown in insulation, less in some places. Now in the higher temps we were burning up on the top floor where the bedrooms are and the main floor and basement were fine as I have central air. I had 2 different companies come and give me a quote for insulation. One was for E-shield reflective insulation and one was for 18 inches of blown in insulation. Both were over $2K. I am pretty handy, I've laid tile and refinished and built cabinets before, but have never set foot in an attic in my life. I saw Home Depot has a sale on the thick batting type of insulation and wanted to know just how hard would it be to put in myself? My townhouse has a sloped roof as well. I have only been up there to peep in and set a ruler to the floor to see how thick the blown in is. Its old and dirty looking as well.

I was really leaning towards the e-shield as it seems to be better at temperature regulation then both the blown in and the batting insulation types, thinner as well. But as I'm on a budget, in the meantime I need a beginners guide as to just what installing batting insulation entails if someone can point me in the right direction. I wont even attempt the blown-in type as I want to keep the costs down.

Thanks in advance for any assistance! We had our first 40 degree night last night and my son and I were shivering our buns off even with the heat on! With the small amount of insulation in the roof its seems like whatever the temp is outside, is what the top floor INSIDE is.


Last edited by techprincesse; 09-30-2009 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 09-30-2009, 10:38 AM   #2
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Are the walls insulated ?
I use fiberglass insulation myself
Do you know the size of the floor joists in the attic?
You will need some boards/plywood strips to walk on while installing

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Old 09-30-2009, 10:47 AM   #3
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


I assume the walls are insulated. Its a brick townhouse and the living & dining areas all stay warm. Even the basement is more cozy then the top floor. Fiberglass is the pink batting style of insulation that comes in rolls right?

As for the size of the floor joists I would need to go back up there and measure. I don't have a ladder myself. First time I went up there was with my home inspector and I used his ladder. Second time was with one of the insulation guys who brought his own ladder again. I have a small 4 foot ladder and my attic doesnt have pull down stairs on the hatch door. Thats a project for another day. For now I will buy a ladder if I decide to do this insulation myself.

One more thing, One guy that came to give me an estimate told me that my attic was an R9 value when it came to the insulation.

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Old 09-30-2009, 11:46 AM   #4
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Yes - pink rolls but usually the thicker stuff is in 4' "batts"
If you will not use the attic for storage then you can install insulation above joists too
IE fill each bay to the top of the joists
Say you need R19 to fill (3" existing, 5.5" more) = R28 total
Then you roll more R19 perpindicular to the joists across the attic
Total then = R47

Some 3.5" older insulation was R11, I have some that is labelled R7
So R9 is a good estimate

If you may use the attic for storage then I fill to the top of the joists & put plywood down
I then add more insulation to the roof rafters - maybe R19 or more depending upon the size of the rafters
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Old 09-30-2009, 12:34 PM   #5
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


I am scared of messing around with batting on the roof rafters. I only wanted to unroll the fiberglass batt to the floor in the attic. Would it be better if I used some reflective insulation like Reflectix along the roof line instead of rolled batting? I see the Reflectix stuff at Home Depot and Lowes and both have rave reviews all over the web on how easy it is to install.

Has anyone used Reflefectix before? Good grief I am so CONFUSED. Being too cold can cause mass confusion and hysteria... (at least in my house) LOL
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:34 PM   #6
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


"Think 3 inches of blown in insulation, less in some places." ----- R-9 or less is a good guess. Your area is minimum R-38, if I'm reading the map correctly: http://articles.directorym.com/Recom...-Maryland.html
Are you ready for this job? You need to seal any penetrations of the ceiling below with canned foam, fire-proof around the gas flue (B-vent) from gas appliances, all electrical boxes, and can lights require special consideration if not rated IC- insulation cover. You need an air space above the batts when installing near the angled roof deck to keep the attic ventilated. This involves walking on boards to access all areas of the attic, adding batts as you work back towards the access hole. It is really a two person job, just getting the materials up there. Wear protective clothing, mask, goggles, gloves. A few good lights, a 6' 1x2 with a fork in the end to place the batts without crawling to every low headroom area. And possibly a ventilating fan on low setting aiming at attic from below to help keep the loose fibers and sweat out of your eyes. Presuming you have exhaust vents near the peak.
Dave, "If you may use the attic for storage then I fill to the top of the joists & put plywood down
I then add more insulation to the roof rafters - maybe R19 or more depending upon the size of the rafter" with that set-up the heat and any moisture from below reaches the storage items due to lack of insulation under the plywood. The rafter insulation above does nothing to keep the heat in the room below. It would only slow the moisture in the air causing it to deposit on the storage items and rafter insulation rather than to be vented out sooner if the rafter insulation was not there. Insulate full R-value required on the ceiling, building a raised platform above it for the storage. Of course the ceiling joists need to be rated to carry the added loads: http://books.google.com/books?id=_Te...0floor&f=false

Tech, read this and click on the figures pictures as you read: http://www.bpa.gov/Energy/N/Energy_T...teCeiling.cfm#
Be safe, Gary
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Old 09-30-2009, 02:48 PM   #7
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR in WA View Post
Dave, "If you may use the attic for storage then I fill to the top of the joists & put plywood down
I then add more insulation to the roof rafters - maybe R19 or more depending upon the size of the rafter" with that set-up the heat and any moisture from below reaches the storage items due to lack of insulation under the plywood. The rafter insulation above does nothing to keep the heat in the room below.
Be safe, Gary
Actually insulation in between the floor joists then plywood

Quote:
Say you need R19 to fill (3" existing, 5.5" more) = R28 total
3" existing then "x" inches more to fill to the top of the floor joist
Then plywood
Insulation on the rafters (vented bays), then sheetrock
This is the exact method used on newer houses where the attic is built as a storage area
On a newer house the attic joists maybe 2x10, older houses lucky to have 2x6
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:48 PM   #8
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Okay, now I am confused... So you guys are saying I can add the batt on top of the loose insulation? Then add plywood to cover the attic? The previous owners had some boxes up there, I have a basement so I dont plan on using the attic for storage whatsoever.

I am considering doing the reflective insulation along the roof rafters which according to reviews on Lowe's and Home depot websites is pretty easy. And I would also like to beef up the insulation on the floor of the attic.
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Old 09-30-2009, 05:58 PM   #9
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


If you don't need the storage space then don't bother with the plywood
I usually just cut some 16" - 2' wide pieces of plywood or bring up other scrap wood to walk on

2 issues:

#1 keeping the heat in the house in the winter
#2 keeping the heat of the attic out of the house (summer)


#1 - Yes roll out as much insulation to fill the joist bays on the "floor"
I would buy as much as will fill to the top of the joists
Then buy rolls of R19 & go perpindicular to the joists across the insulation you just put down
This will give you a 2x layer
Adding min of R19 (if 2x6 joists) between & R19 on top gives you R40+ with the existing blown in insulation

#2 Rafters - you say there is existing insulation stapled up on the rafters (roof) ?
That will help keep the heat out
Does the house have gable vents, ridge vent or other venting?
That will also help keep the house cool

I have not used the reflective insulation, but have heard it works
I used to live in Pasadena...some hot summers
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:05 PM   #10
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


"So you guys are saying I can add the batt on top of the loose insulation?" ------ Yes, unfaced run in between the ceiling joists. 2nd layer as Dave said, perpendicular, also unfaced batt.

"Then add plywood to cover the attic? The previous owners had some boxes up there, I have a basement so I dont plan on using the attic for storage whatsoever." -------- Good choice, unless you made a closed room up there for the dead air space, your R-value would be based on the joist thickness and you would lose heat through the joists due to thermal bridging from the ply/joist not separated by foam board.

"I am considering doing the reflective insulation " ----- http://www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/radiant/index.html
Be safe, Gary
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:07 PM   #11
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Joists are what carpenters call the "floor "of your attic.

Here is a very simplified 'how to' for attic insulation.

First ,your attic space is(or should be) ventilated.Fresh air comes in around the edges of the attic 'floor'(soffit vent) and exits through vents higher up on the sloped part of the roof-(mushroom vent)or at the very top(ridge vent)-or on the side wall(gable vent).

First thing to do is get up in the attic and figure out where the air comes in at the edge of the attic 'floor'.(soffit vents)YOU SHOULD SEE LIGHT COMING IN.

When putting in more insulation you MUST NOT BLOCK the air from coming in.-----you will make a moldy mess out of your attic if you do.


the Depot sells "insulation baffles"that you simply slide into those openings between the 'floor 'and the roof(WHERE YOU SEE THE LIGHT COMING IN).
they are a cheap Styrofoam tray like things about 3 feet long.


Now you insulate,I must assume the original insulation had a vapor barrier.
(that is a paper or foil face) Should be touching the drywall.

You may add more UNFACED ROLL INSULATION or get an insulation blower
and blow in as much as you can afford.

The blowers are free to use (no rental cost) where you buy the insulation.
Fast, cheap ,little crawling around--First choice for DIY.

The blowers weigh a BUNCH. Get somebody strong.

If all goes well,it will take you longer to get your supplies and return the machine,than it will take to do the work.---_----MIKE

Last edited by oh'mike; 09-30-2009 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:12 PM   #12
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


One more thought - vapor barrier/retarder
Do you know if one is in place?
It should be against the ceiling under the attic
I'm not sure what they did (or do) when using blown -in ?

There should only be one vaport barrier
So adding more insulation you do not use kraft faced insulation
Ah - I see GBar already commented on that.....

At my mom's she had blow in, no vapor barrier
So I scooped out the blown-in, put down R-19 Kraft faced (paper down)
Then put the blow in on top
I did this rafter by rafter & put all the blown-in into the old garage attic
It was a mess doing this, goggles & dust mask
But the main house ended up with all new "good" insulation
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:16 PM   #13
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Here's pics showing an insulation baffle (chute) in place
But you said rafters have insulation attached already
So they may be hiding these vents, or there may have been enough space left for air to vent

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Old 09-30-2009, 07:30 PM   #14
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


Thanks SCUBA DAVE The baffle pictures sure help.
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Old 09-30-2009, 07:54 PM   #15
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How hard to install insulation yourself?


If there is no vapor barrier between the drywall and the attic space-oh damn-you will be doing a "Dave"job,Sweep the pocket clean-Roll out FACED insulation. Shovel and sweep next pocket on top of the one you just finished-Repeat-Repeat-Yuck ,Still-Can you earn in a day what it will cost you to have it done?

It's not brain surgery!

P.S.BE CAREFUL (damn I sound like my mother) And figure on the cost of a nice brunch into your estimate.

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