How to Install Blown in Attic Insulation
Do you ever wonder why your energy bills end up being so high in Cincinnati? It’s highly likely that you don’t have a properly insulated attic. When your attic doesn’t have the recommended level of insulation, you lose heat in winter, end up with a hotter home in summer, and make it difficult for your heating and cooling systems to work efficiently. Your money ends up escaping through the attic, and your energy bill goes sky high. In fact, many homes only have half the recommended insulation value in their attics. The amount of insulation is rated using an R-value, where a higher value of R means better insulation. R-38 is the minimum recommended amount, although going up to R-60 can make a significant impact on the comfort of your home.
Blown in attic insulation is one of the most common ways to increase the insulation in your attic, and the one that we recommend for the Cincinnati area. It’s also important to have proper ventilation alongside this insulation. You gain many benefits from putting this material in your attic. The biggest advantage comes from the energy efficiency that you gain. While you have to pay upfront or financed cost to put the attic insulation in, you end up getting a return on your investment in a few short years due to the energy savings on your bill. Attic insulation also keeps your house quieter, as it creates a sound barrier between your home and the outside. If you have a busy highway at your front steps or neighbors that love to keep their parties running into the morning, blown in attic insulation can help create a quieter environment. This type of attic insulation also prevents moisture from building up in your home.
Blown in attic insulation gets it name from the way that it’s installed in your home. It’s literally blown or sprayed into the attic. Due to this application, it’s able to fit into all of the nooks and crannies that a typical attic has, rather than having odd gaps and holes throughout the insulated area. When the gaps are closed off, the air is ventilated in a controlled fashion and performs the job that it’s expected to do in keeping your home comfortable.
Types of Blown-in Insulation
There are several types of material commonly used for blown in insulation. The exact material selected for your residential attic insulation project depends on your current needs and the level of insulation that your home needs to keep it comfortable in Cincinnati weather.
Loose-Fill fiberglass is a loose form of insulation that is developed from glass fibers. This material has excellent insulating properties and works well for attic insulation applications. Due to its creation from glass, it works well to minimize the risk of moisture and to prevent the development of mold and mildew. The loose fill may be contained with a netting material to prevent the fiberglass from floating in the area, as it is dangerous to inhale.
Cellulose blown in insulation is created out of corrugated cardboard, wood, and newspaper. While you might be concerned that this is a fire hazard waiting to happen, the cellulose material is actually treated with a fire retardant before it’s used as insulation. This type of insulation first came into use in the 1920s, and has been proven as an effective insulating material in countless installations over the decades. If you’re wanting to go with an environmentally friendly attic insulation material, as recycled materials are used in it. While there are some chemicals involved, such as boric acid, it still provides an excellent way to have a greener home. This versatile insulation offers a great value for residential homeowners in the Cincinnati area. Cellulose is frequently recommended by insulating professionals as an excellent insulation material at a good price point.
Much like the loose-fill fiberglass, cellulose insulation in loose-fill form may go into netting or a membrane to keep it in place. Cellulose can also come in a stabilized form or a wall-cavity spray. However, both of these types have some moisture added to the material, which may be a concern to a homeowner.
Spray-in foam is a material that often comes to mind when someone mentions attic insulation. This polyurethane foam is blown into the attic and then it expands to fill crevices and cracks in the attic. One of the biggest advantages of the expanding foam is that it tightly seals the attic so that the air flows out through the proper ventilation path. However, working with this type of insulation requires extensive experience, so it’s important to work with insulation installers that have familiarity with the material.
Any type of blown in installation offers a major speed advantage to the installation. Depending on the size of your attic, it may only take a few hours to completely install the insulation. When you want to realize the cost savings of better insulation quickly, or you prefer to not have contractors spending long hours in your home, blown in installations are a great choice. Since it’s so difficult to retrofit other types of insulation to a home that’s already built, blown in insulation also provides a much easier way to improve your attic insulation or to replace old insulation.
How Much Insulation Do I Need?
The bags of insulation material have full information about how much insulation you need for the square footage of your attic. It also contains information regarding the R-value of this insulation, which lets you know how effective it will be at keeping your home a comfortable temperature and protecting it against Cincinnati’s sometimes harsh weather conditions. It is rated on a per-inch basis. The bag also details the maximum coverage that it can achieve. The higher the R-value is, the more bags of insulation you need to cover the area. If you’re working with a professional insulation installer, then they would look at your attic to calculate how much insulation you need for your home.
What’s the Cost
The cost varies based on the blown in insulation that you’re using for your attic, and whether you’re approaching this project from a DIY standpoint or working with a professional installation team. The typical bag of cellulose insulation, for example, may cost approximately $11 to $30 on average. It would cost a few hundred dollars on the base insulation for your insulation project in Cincinnati. You would also want a ventilation mask and other protective equipment for DIY installation, along with any other tools that you need to prepare the attic for insulation. The blower that is used to blow the loose-fill insulation into your attic is specialized and quite expensive, but you don’t need to do an outright purchase on this machine. Instead, you can rent it from a home improvement store.
However, unlike working with insulation batting, blown in insulation is not particularly DIY-friendly. You have to spend a lot of your time learning the appropriate safety measures when working with loose-fill insulation, the steps for getting your attic ready for this process, the procedures for installing insulation on top of existing attic insulation, the way to use the machine, and other specialized skills. An experienced blown in attic insulation installer in Cincinnati will add labor costs to the overall price of your project, but you end up with a professional installation that is done quickly, efficiently, and properly. They already have all the tools they need for the job, plus they likely have better bulk rate pricing on insulation than you would be able to access as a homeowner.
When you work with a professional service for this type of work, you’ll end up with a high-quality product that will give you energy savings for years to come, and keeps your home as comfortable as possible. You won’t have to worry about missing gaps and cracks in the attic, or running into major problems with the insulation material. If anything goes wrong during the project, experienced professional installers will know how to address the issue so that it doesn’t impact the timeline for completion or the quality of the work. Talk to the contracting company about their process for installing blown in insulation and how long they expect it to take. They should be willing to go over the entire process with you and provide a free estimate of the work so you know what to expect price-wise.
How to Install Blown-in Insulation
Whether you choose to install your attic blown in cellulose insulation yourself or work with a professional team, the process is largely the same. You’ll want to set aside a day to prepare your attic, bring in all the necessary materials and equipment, and complete the installation. Blown-in cellulose is typically a quick installation process, so this shouldn’t be a multi-day project unless you have an attic that is exceptionally larger or more complicated to work with than the typical Cincinnati home.
The first step of the process is removing anything stored in your attic. You don’t want to get insulating material into your keepsakes and other household goods, so they need to go somewhere else temporarily. This is especially true if you opt for fiberglass insulation over cellulose, as the glass can be damaging to your items, as well as your health if you inhale it. The next step is to go around your attic and check for air gaps and other problems that could compromise the effectiveness of the insulation. While blown in insulation does a great job at getting into all the little cracks in an attic, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to fill in every single air gap that exists. By addressing common attic maintenance tasks ahead of time, you’ll have a room that’s ready for the blower to do its job.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to any areas that could put the insulation in contact with hot objects, such as lighting, hot water pipes, HVAC venting, and other house systems. You don’t want to run the risk of something starting a fire, so you’ll need to use special measures to protect these areas so the insulation doesn’t come in direct contact with it. For example, in the case of hot water pipes, you can insulate the pipes so that there’s no direct contact. You may need to bring in a professional contractor to put some of these measures in place if they require building enclosures or redoing electrical wiring. Finally, you’ll want to have some sort of barrier set up so that the spray in insulation doesn’t travel to areas that you don’t want it to, such as into the lower level through the access door.
Setting Up the Blower
This is generally a two-person job. One person is working with the blower itself, while the other is in the attic to position the hose where it needs to go. The person at the blower machine needs to keep an eye on it to make sure that it’s working properly and to keep it well supplied with cellulose insulation, or another type of blown in insulation. The blower introduces air to the insulation so that it expands to its installed size, so this person may need to adjust the amount of air that’s getting taken into the system and blown up to the attic.
A small hole may need to be placed in the attic to feed the blower hose in, or the installation team may opt for another route to direct the cellulose insulation into your home. You’ll be informed of the exact steps being taken throughout this project so that you’re well informed. The hole is sealed after the installation is complete since it certainly wouldn’t make sense to leave part of the attic open to the air once it’s insulated.
Let It Blow
The person in the attic has a personal protective gear on so that they’re not inhaling anything dangerous, as well as gloves and protective clothing. If you’re the person in the attic in a DIY cellulose insulation installation, you’ll want to have long pants and long sleeves on, alongside the rest of the recommended protective gear. When it doubt, err on the side of safety.
You start at the part of the attic that’s farthest from the entry point and work your way around to all of the areas that need insulation. As you move the hose around, you can double-check that everything is working properly and that the material is adhering to the attic walls as intended. Since the cellulose material is light, it’s also important to avoid spraying installed insulation into the air with the blower hose. Close attention is needed to avoid this complication. Depending on the construction of your attic, you may end up with low fill areas in the insulation. Simply return to these spots so that it has a sufficient amount to provide the appropriate R-value to the home.
Skylights can prove difficult to insulate, so consider using a professional if you have these installed throughout your attic. You may need to enclose the tunnels with insulation, which may require a combination of batting and blown in options.
One thing to keep in mind during the insulation installation is that it can settle, which is something to account for, as it decreases the effectiveness of its insulating properties. When you work with a quality blown in insulation installer, they should provide a guarantee or warranty on their work. In most cases, the professionals are well-versed in preventing settling, but you could run into it if you’re doing this on a DIY basis.
Blown in cellulose insulation is wonderful for keeping your Cincinnati home cozy throughout all of the seasons. You get a quick way of improving the insulation in your attic, and it’s a relatively inexpensive project that will pay off big time in reduced energy bills for the life of the insulation. When you bring in professional installation services, you can get the results that you want through their expertise and top-end equipment.
Contact us today to discuss your blown in insulation needs to get an estimate today!