This is our final post in our DIY blown attic insulation series! At the bottom of this post we have a link to every post in this series if you want to check out the whole shebang :)
After days of prep work and hours of sweating, it was finally time to do the most fun and satisfying part of the process- blowing the insulation!!!! Evan and I were on opposite ends of a 150-foot hose: I manned the blower in the garage, and Evan wielded the hose up in the attic. You reeeeaaaally need at least two people for this job. Thank goodness I have an awesome partner!
Based on everything I read beforehand, I had a pretty good general idea of what I needed to do to load the blower and keep a consistent flow of cellulose up to the attic. First you use a utility knife to cut the bag in half, then use your hands to break up the material into the blower (making sure to keep your hands above the safety guard, which is about 2/3 up the blower barrel). I’ve mentioned this in other posts but in case you found this one first, we used GreenFiber cellulose insulation.
On the left is the blower, in the middle is the trashcans one of the hoses came in, and on the right is our work table. I used the table to cut the bags, then I’d break them in half over the trashcan (since some almost always inevitably fell out of the bag). I’d leave one half in the trashcan, and I’d start breaking the other up over the blower. I found it easiest to sit the whole chunk on the blower guard while I broke it into smaller pieces and let the pieces fall through. Sometimes I’d skip the worktable and just cut the bag straight over the trashcan. But the best way to demonstrate the process is to actually show a video of it! (Beware, it’s loud!)
The first time I went up to check on Evan, it was crazy. Like walking into a hot, dark, blizzard of dust. You can barely see Evan in the first picture I snapped because of all the particles in the air.
Once I got a little closer he was easier to spot. Plus in these pictures you can actually see the insulation being blown out of the hose! So cool! And look at all that insulation on the ground, good progress!
As you can see in the picture, Evan attached a paint roller extender to the hose to make it easier to wield (and easier to reach far spaces). You could also use a broom handle or anything else like that. Having a longer reach means having to move less, which was good because the blown insulation covered up all our walking paths and it was not easy for Evan to find his footing in that mess.
While I was up checking on Evan, his dad operated the blower. Yay for helping hands!
Partway through the day it started raining so we had to shut the garage door, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it kept the day from getting ridiculously hot.
Overall, working with the blower and the cellulose was really fun!! It’s mainly made up of recycled newspaper so it’s not itchy or anything, it’s easy to break it up by hand, and it’s pretty light so carrying the bags was no hassle.
Time flew and before we knew it Evan let us know that he was done up there! And by “let us know” I mean he tried to call us on the walkie talkie, we didn’t hear it in time to answer, so I just ran up to the attic to see what he needed. We shut off the blower with about six bags to spare and went to relieve Evan of his duties. Poor guy was a mess.
From start to finish it took a lot less time than we expected: we were guessing it’d be 5 hours, but it actually took about 2-1/2. Probably because we had the high speed blower! Regardless, it was still a long time to be up in the attic with nothing but a hose, dusty jug of juice, headphones, and a swirling cloud of dust. Thank goodness for audiobooks!
Looks like he’s going gray! Also check out his socks, it’s like a dust tan line.
While Evan showered, I poked around the attic to check out its makeover! Here’s the area over our master bathroom
Which used to look like this hot mess:
Here’s the path over our entry hall on the back side of the fireplace.
Which also was definitely lacking in the insulation department:
Here’s the area in front of the AC unit and air duct bridge. We didn’t spray it as deep here because we still wanted to be able to stand on the plywood when we need to clean the AC’s filter.
And here’s the area where all the junk and the giant antenna used to be.
It used to be pretty neglected as well:
It’s pretty crazy! Looks like a whole new attic up there! Evan’s 13″ markers were a big help too.
To give you an idea of the amount of dust… check out the top of our bridge! That pink spot is where Evan sat his juice jug.
I went back down and started talking with Evan’s dad… and we decided to use the last of the bags on the garage attic! Technically that part of the attic is connected to the rest of our attic, but it was impossible to get the hose to. We hadn’t originally planned on adding more insulation to it since it was just over the garage, but since we had the extra bags and we already had the blower all set up… we figured we might as well!
So we cleared out that part of the attic while Evan finished showering. There were a couple rolled up carpets, lots more boxes, and a huge collection of scrap wood.
Then Evan popped out and he helped me operate the blower while his dad aimed the hose up in the attic. Luckily he could do it all from the ladder since it was a pretty small area.
Evan took a more close up video of the blower and cellulose in action.
We do have some more tips to the list of tips from yesterday though!
- If you can, have a third person there. Like we said before, it really helped me stay on top of the blower and allowed us to check on Evan every now and then.
- If you can’t get a third person, definitely have walkie talkies. Just make sure to test them first, and keep an ear out! The blower is about as loud as a vacuum and it can obscure the sound of the walkie talkie ring.
- It helps to give the person in the attic status updates (halfway through the bags, 2/3 through, 75% through… etc). This will help them distribute the right amount to each area of the attic, especially if you don’t use height markers.
- Evan said that having an audiobook to listen to made the process a lot less boring. If audiobooks aren’t your thing, get some good music or maybe a comedian’s tracks. You don’t want to be up there with nothing but your thoughts and the dust cloud to keep you company.
- Like most of our attic work, having a headlight was a huge plus. This allowed Evan to have one hand for the hose, and one hand to hold onto beams with.
- You definitely need a respirator/mask and eye protection too!
- Use a broom handle or paint roller extender like we did to get to hard to reach spaces.
- If you have an indoor pet, make sure to keep them safely in a closed off room with all their stuff. You’ll have the door to the garage open for the hose to run inside and you don’t want to be chasing runaway kitties!
- Also, definitely do this in the garage as opposed to in the driveway, just in case it rains (like it did on us)
- Close the doors to any rooms near your attic hatch because there is guaranteed to be a mess.
Seems like we finished this attic project just in time! It’s hot as heck outside but our AC is definitely running less! Also, I used to get hot at 78 inside and now I get chilly at 79, so I don’t have to run it as low anymore! Fortunately we did this project our first summer in the house, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait til next spring to compare our “before” bills with our “after” bills.
Speaking of monies, here’s the budget breakdown!
- Cable extender and cable organizing staples- $13.52
- Exhaust vent duct, clamps, adapter, and roof mount- $25.61
- Staples and staple gun– $22.83
- Vent chutes– $3.70
- Aluminum flashing– $54.96
- Flexible duct tape and PVC caps- $41.68
- Expanding foam– $20.94
- Louver vent cover- $5.98
- Yardsticks and yellow duct tape- $6.97
- Attic door cover– $53.95
- GreenFiber– $384.56
- TOTAL COST- $634.70
It was no cheap project, but if your attic didn’t have all the initial problems ours did you could cut about $100 off the total bill. And if you already had some basic supplies like a staple gun and flexible duct tape, it could knocked off another $60 or so. Plus, we expect that having proper insulation (and fixing items in the attic that weren’t to code) will more than make up for the cost of this project, and having lower electricity bills will help us make up that cost little by little as the months go on. Woooo! And considering this could have cost us several thousand $$$$ to hire a professional, we are pretty pleased with the final bill!
Psst – To see the whole process from start to finish, check out our other posts! You can see our overall plan for blowing insulation, and check out all the prep in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9. Big project!
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