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Old 06-16-2009, 12:15 AM   #1
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Insulating old wall without blower?

Long time lurker, first time poster, here.

Kind of a dumb question, and I'm pretty sure the answer is "no", but I can't find any information to the contrary.

We have recently purchased the second floor of a condo, that was an old (mid 1800's was the inspectors best guess - old enough that the original portion of the basement has rough-hewn logs as some of the joists for the floor above) building that had been apartments for quite some time. Not the best shape, but it's ours.

There was an awful built-in the main room, with an odd bit rising out of the top of it to the ceiling line. From the attic, it became evident that this was the painted-over remnants of a chimney. At some point, the chimney was removed to below the roof line, the hole covered, and the visible remnants below turned into a built-in.

After removing this, it came to our attention that the wall cavities behind the built in where not insulated when the rest of the walls and floor of the attic had cellulose insulation installed. (Presumably because there was a fireplace or woodstove there, and a chimney.)

My question is, considering that I'm looking at only insulating one and half (the half because the joist spacing is irregular in that area) wall cavities, for a room that has ceilings just under 7.5', is it possible in any way to install the insulation by hand without a blower?

There are no top plates on this exterior wall so the insulation would be easy to put in there by hand (if this is possible) The house may be balloon framed - if it is ballooned framed, there is at least a firestop between floors.

So what's the verdict? Am I stupid for even contemplating this? Just seems like I ought to be able to bring some insulation up to the attic, fluff it up, insert it into the wall, tamping it down somewhat to make sure voids are filled, and avoid having to rent a blower for such a small area.


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Old 06-16-2009, 12:45 AM   #2
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I'm sure you could find something to throw down there that would be helpful. I'm having a hard time thinking of what it would be. I have some things to consider if trying to figure it out though. As tempting as it would be to try and fluff up some cellulose by hand I don't think it would work that well. When it comes out of the package it's pretty tightly compressed. A big part of what the machine dose if fluff it. It's hard enough braking it into chunks that will go into the machine. The next tempting item would be some sort of packing peanuts being that they would acutely fall all the way to the bottom. These however pose some significant fire risks. I don't think the paper based ones are treated as cellulose is and the styrofoam ones seam like the perfect thing to melt, fume, smolder and cause a flash fire. If there where some specialty packing material that had to be fire treated that might be good thing. I don't think that it would be nearly as affective as blown in cellulose however.

Keep your eye out for an installer in the neighborhood and see if you can slip the truck operator $20.00 and a beer to stop by your place at the end of the day. Or a home cooked lunch is always nice in the middle of a working day and has some significant negotiation leverage.

Any way I know I didn't come up with any solutions but I'll keep thinking about it. Let us know it you have any more clever ideas.

Jesse Pender

Portland Tradesmen


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Old 06-16-2009, 03:42 AM   #3
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Why rent the machine? A lot of the big box stores will let you use the machine if you buy a minimum amount of the cellulose from them. That's what I did in my house. Since we were going to remodel anyway we blew in the insulation from the inside(carefully) with the blower positioned outside. Worked slick other than some problems with the machine,but whattya want for free?
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Old 06-16-2009, 04:23 AM   #4
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Hrm - good point about loosening that stuff up - I forgot how compressed it comes packed.

As far as renting the machine - the amount needed for this small wallspace isn't enough for them to toss in the free rental, apparently. At least, the one place I checked. (I haven't looked into this much yet.)

I figured since I'm going to be up in the attic (which is more than a crawlspace, but not really an attic, either) for a good chunk of time over the next week or so, working on wiring, and replacing the bathroom fan and ducting for it, I might as well do this while I'm up there.

Of course, we may just want more insulation in the attic as well, at which point getting the machine for a free rental becomes an option.

The other issue is that getting the blower to this second floor wall is a bit of a hassle - it's a long, winding route to the outdoors, and about as far from the tiny attic hatch as you can get in the house.
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Old 03-09-2010, 07:56 PM   #5
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Why don't we have this stuff available in North America yet? I have my walls down with two cavities uninsulated, but the lathing is preventing me from installing fibreglass sheets. I could take off 4 inches of lathe from the top and pour in a bag of this insulation. THEY DO MAKE IT, I just can't find it in North America.
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