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Old 08-06-2008, 07:10 AM   #16
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Hey, Mitchel, you came here to get information - apart from the financial aspect, I hope - didn't you? Well, this is a good place to start and you've gotten some info, some good, some less, but I will add this...ignore my posts if you want, that's fine by me. Just don't come to me asking where you can do things cheaper while ignoring some main components of the question...

I do water damage restoration jobs for insurance companies and one place we get to see quite often is attics and rooves.

"Stabilized" cellulose is common product used for "new" insulation up here where cellulose is plentiful and cheap; used to be that just straight cellulose made from shredded newsprint was sprayed into wall cavities and just let to sit and 'slump' but nowadays they add an adhesive to it to make it stand up and stick where it should be. It is fine to use as long as your wall has little to no water infiltration because once it gets wet it become useless. But once blown in, it tends to fill the cavity in your wall, leaving little to no room for air movement and thus drying, so, if your wall tends to be moisture prone (i.e. in a wind-driven rain exposure location, without protective overhangs, poorly detailed, etc.), you can end up with the cellulose harbouring moisture, and thus potentially growing mould. It also can affect the 'natural' ventilation of your roof, and I know plenty of roofers who swear by natural ventilation between soffit and ridge vent (if you have one); there are even number calculations to figure out how many sq ft of ventilation your home should need. So, although relatively easy to apply, cellulose has hidden dangers that affect the longevity of the roofing system.

There is another consideration as well. Cellulose can be flame retardant or not. I believe they treat cellulose with boric acid to make it fire resistant but that may be different nowadays. But if not flame retardant, then cellulose can be a fire hazard, as opposed to fiberglass which is not a fire hazard in open spaces. You should specify the one you want.

Now, all that suggests that perhaps fiberglass might be better because fiberglass is not flammable and doesn't pose water/mould issues. However, fiberglass may release fiberglass dust which is a concern if inhaled.
So, from a health and environmental perspective, the cellulose is the better choice, but only if water and flame issues are not the priorities. Otherwise, go with fiberglass that is well wrapped.

You didn't mention vapour barriers - do you have any? do you need any? What have you got...shingles or BUR?

If you're not "rich", then payback usually figures into the equation and makes more sense. I mean it makes sense to spend $5000 to save $100 a month if you plan to stay there for 15 more years, but it may not make sense to spend $2500 to save $20 a month, which is about what a 15 year payback period is equal to. But if your confort is paramount to your family, then it is only money...and you can always get more money. But as I said, it all depends on what $2500 means to you. For some it's all they've got in the bank and is their emergency fund...spending that may not be adviseable at this time...who knows?



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