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gma2rjc 04-09-2009 08:34 AM

Blowing In Cellulose Insulation - Need Advice
I'm getting ready to add cellulose insulation to my attic in a few weeks.
Would it be better to get the machine from a local hardware store or are the one's at Lowe's alright?

Is there one brand of cellulose that's better than the others?

I haven't done this before, so if anyone has ANY suggestions, tips or advice on blowing the insulation in, I'd really appreciate it.

curls00 04-09-2009 09:38 AM

I did this in the fall of 2008 and it was pretty easy and well worth the time and effort as proven this winter. I rented the machine from Home Depot and it worked just fine. The machine is HEAVY though -- you'll need a fairly sturdy trailer for that, and also to get the bags of insulation home (I made 4 trips in my Acura TSX carrying 8 bags per trip -- couldn't see out the side or back windows but it was only a few blocks to HD). The machine was loaded onto a buddy's trailer.

You will need someone down at the machine, in the driveway most likely, to load the insulation into the machine about 1/3 of a bag at a time. You will have a swtich and the hose in the attic with you and can control the machine from there.

Prior to getting everything home, take a trip up into the attic and determine how much insulation you are planning to blow in, and mark these depths on every vertical surface you can, to provide visual indicators as to when to stop blowing in a certain area. This will save you time and hassle once you have the machine for the 4 hours or the day. Plus you'll know exactly how much insulation to buy (and always buy a few bags extra, it can never hurt!).

We did about 1000 sqft of attic space, using 32 bags of the stuff, providing an average of 8" or so of extra insulation. There were some very low spots that took more insulation to get up to the required level, so we JUST had enough insulation to get the job done.

I don't think there's one brand thats better than the others, but we did we a difference in the pricing between the two brands that were available in my area -- both were said to be equal products by about 5 different employees of 3 different stores, so that was good enough reason for em to go with the cheaper bags over the more expensive ones!

Take your time up in the attic, make sure to walk only on the joists (this can be tricky), and not end up going through the ceiling to the floor below! :)

gma2rjc 04-09-2009 12:34 PM

Thanks Curls, I'll have to ask around to borrow a trailer. Do you think they'll help me load it on the trailer? I think I can get the bags of insulation home in my van. Lowe's is only 3 miles away, so making a few extra trips won't hurt.

I'll definitely mark the depth on all the vertical boards. That's a good idea.

How did you know if you got all the spaces filled without leaving any air pockets?

curls00 04-09-2009 12:43 PM

The HD guys would not load it onto the trailer - insurance reasons for if it were to fall off and you try and blame them, yadda yadda yadda. I had a friend there and it wasn't too bad.

I was adding to the existing blown-in fiberglass stuff, so I wasnt TOO concerned with air pockets here or there. Either way, the stuff gets blown in pretty compactly (moreso than fiberglass but that's how cellulose just "is"). I wouldn't worry about air pockets, they'd be pretty rare I think.

Are you adding to existing insulation, or putting insulation where it never was before? Either way, I'd look at the blown-depth vs. settled-depth for the brand you are using (and try and set the machine correctly), and mark your guidelines accordingly when in the attic. It does tend to settle a bit but it'll be clearly labelled on the bags, and I'm sure the Lowe's employee can help you out as well.

I have been unscientifically keeping track of my savings vs. last year for heating costs, and so far it's been noticeable. I'd expect my $390 cost (tax-in!) to be recovered by the end of next winter or possibly mid-winter 2010/2011. Regardless of the savings, however, we did notice the house was a LOT more comfortable, we no longer hear airplanes overhead, and the furnace isn't kicking on every hours during the coldest nights. It made the house way more liveable and that alone was worth the money and effort.

PS: Wear a dust mask and goggles. It isn't irritant like fiberglass but it'll get in your nostrils and lungs just the same, if you aren't using a decent dust mask.

curls00 04-09-2009 12:46 PM

Oh, depending on your van, you MIGHT be able to get it in the van to bring it home. Someone I know did that and it was fine. Probably wouldn't hurt to bring a few boards to use as a ramp as the machine probably has 2 wheels to drag it around on. Depending on the machine you should be able to take the top half off (the hopper) to have it fit vertically in the van. Strap it down so it doesn't move around and voila! Remove your rear bench and that should be all the room you need. I'd guess the machine is about 3'W x 2.5'L x 4'H, with the top half on.

gma2rjc 04-09-2009 02:05 PM


Are you adding to existing insulation, or putting insulation where it never was before?
I have R-19 batts up there now. Some of them are a little beat-up looking from when I was up there sealing everything. lol. I moved each one of them at least twice for one reason or another.


I have been unscientifically keeping track of my savings vs. last year for heating costs, and so far it's been noticeable.
It's good to know that there's a noticable difference for you. I noticed a 19% drop in my gas usage just from sealing my attic and doing some other energy saving things around the house. I'm anxious to see if adding insulation to the attic will make more of a difference.

One thing I'm the most curious about is how it will effect the way my A/C cools the house this summer. When we have it on, our basement (where the bedrooms are) is freezing while the upstairs still feels uncomfortably warm.

Thanks for the suggestion about the van. I think that'll work well once I take the back seats out. I can haul 4' x 8' drywall in it, so the machine should fit pretty well.

If I buy 20 bags of insulation at Lowe's, I can use the machine free for 24 hours (with a returnable $250 deposit). I hope 24 hours is enough time. The only problem is that they don't let anyone reserve the machine, it's on a first-come first-serve basis. Looks like I'll have to set the alarm clock that day. LOL.

curls00 04-09-2009 02:40 PM

We rented the machine for 4 (four) hours and returned it with about 20 minutes to spare. 24 hours is more than enough time! :)

For the A/C issue, do you change your vent openings spring and fall, to heat the basement/main floor in the winter (hot air rises), and cool the main/top floor in the summer (cold air sinks)? It really helps the balance between floors, and even room-to-room, to do this.

jomama45 04-09-2009 03:06 PM

One more thing I will add from my experince with cellulose : It's REALLY DUSTY! I would not only place the blower outside, but bring the hose in from a gable vent if possible. If you need to bring it in thru the scuttle/access hole in the house, at least make a good effort to close the hole off around the hose.

gma2rjc 04-09-2009 03:22 PM

I can't get up on the roof (chicken), but I was thinking about taking a sash out of a window in the room that has the attic access. I thought I'd take all the toys and crib out of there, close the door and tape plastic around it.

Should I tape plastic around the window also and cut a hole in it big enough for the hose to fit through?

I guess, even if I could get up on the roof, I'm not sure I would know how to remove the vent or put it back on. One guy who came over to give an estimate on doing the work said they put the hose down through the roof. That sounds like a smart way to do it.

gma2rjc 04-09-2009 03:30 PM


For the A/C issue, do you change your vent openings spring and fall, to heat the basement/main floor in the winter (hot air rises), and cool the main/top floor in the summer (cold air sinks)? It really helps the balance between floors, and even room-to-room, to do this.
We can't change the vent openings. There are two large cold-air returns on the main floor about 10 feet from each other. Unless you mean the regular heat vents. Yes, the basement vents get closed in the summer. That doesn't seem to help, although it really should. Thanks for the suggestion.

There used to be a cold-air return in the basement, but it didn't seem to help. It's not there anymore.

It's a split-level house. At the front door, the stairway goes up 1/2 flight and down 1/2 flight. Even having the ceiling fan on over the stairs makes no noticable difference. I could understand if there was a doorway between the two levels, but it's all open.

curls00 04-09-2009 07:43 PM

We have attic access via our closet in the master bedroom, which is over the garage and the entire front of the house (large master suite!). We closed the bedroom door and ran the hose up into a window and into the closet and up into the attic. We put drop cloths on all closet items, and had the furnace fan ON the entire time, changing the filter a few days later (boy was it dirty from this stuff!).

The dust in the rest of the house was minimal / non-existant by taking these precautions. I wouldn't bother taping up the window as it will get into your house either via the attic or via the window, but it really wasn't bad. A quick vacuum job and a wipe of the furniture in the bedroom and things were 100% fine.

gma2rjc 04-09-2009 08:45 PM

I hadn't even thought about the furnace. Thanks for pointing that out.

You did it in less than 4 hours? That's good to know. So if I get everything set-up and start insulating by noon, I should be done by 7 or 8 pm. Not including the time it takes to clean-up after I'm done. :yes:

curls00 04-09-2009 09:20 PM

Basically the blower was running full-tilt for 2.5 hours (at most) with my buddy feeding bags into it and my in the attic. If you have the bags ready to go near the place where the machine will be, and you have the depths marked and the proper household stuff covered, it'll be a quick job.

kawendtco 04-09-2009 09:27 PM

call your local insulation company. they will do a better job and it is about the same as or less than the cost of rental and purchase of diyer stuff. it will be done in a a fraction of the time as well and not near as dusty.

Knucklez 04-09-2009 10:03 PM

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hey, there is more info and tips on the subject over here:


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