For a home to be cost effective and energy-efficient, insulation is a must. The rising cost of heating and cooling homes are serious considerations that many homeowners are now putting more effort in making their homes air-tight and insulated. A great percentage of older homes are improperly insulated that their cooling and heating bills have escalated. What to do? Insulate.
Two Basic Methods of Insulating
There are two types of insulation commonly used in homes today. The first is the thermal insulation and the second one is loose-fiber insulation. Thermal insulation is a pretty straightforward insulation method as all one needs to do is buy a roll of fiberglass matting, cut them into the required specifications then caulk or glue-gun them to the surface. This method is easy and any self-respecting DIY-er can certainly do this. The downside is how do you apply the thermal matting on really tight spaces or in existing cavity walls?
The other method of insulation is the loose-fill insulation which can be “blown” into cavity walls, tight spaces and attics to significantly increase the efficiency of homes and decrease energy consumption for cooling and heating homes. Blown insulation can fill every void, crack and gaps in flooring, ceilings and walls for an airtight house.
Installing loose-fill insulation is most easily accomplished by using an insulation machine. Today’s most common options for loose-fill materials are cellulose, rock wool and fiberglass. All of these items are eco-friendly and made from recycled materials.
Installing loose-fill insulation into walls and attics is the most effective way to save energy costs. It usually only takes an hour to a few hours depending on the size and type of job.
Preparing the Area to be Insulated
Using an insulation machine is not as hard as it seems. However, if you think you cannot handle one it is best to call in for a professional contractor to do the job for you. In case you have the knack to do the job most suppliers of loose-fill insulation materials also rent out insulation machines.
However there are a few things that need to be done before the actual installation. Measure the area of the space to be insulated by using the formula Length X Width. Determine how many inches of material are needed to attain your preferred R-value. Cellulose and fiberglass have slightly different measurements. Consult the packaging on each material to determine the blown-in and settling height. Cellulose is especially dusty and dirty. Wear a mask and prepare some form of covering for access doors, soffits, cracks, and gaps to prevent the cellulose materials from being blown-in on other parts of the house. It is not a bad idea to cover access doors if installing fiberglass as well.
Operating the Insulation Machine
Put on goggles and dust mask before you start the process. Make sure you have read the instruction manual before attempting to use the insulation blower. Cool Machines have safety features to quickly turn off the machine if a foreign object falls into the hopper.
Install R-value rulers at the access of the attic and in various places to help you blow an even depth throughout the attic. Some building code officials require the use of these rulers.
Get ready with the bags of insulation and then turn on the insulation machine. To feed the hopper of the machine, cut a fiberglass bale in half or open the end of a bale of cellulose/rockwool. Do not attempt to empty an entire bale all at once. Do not attempt to clear the material by reaching into the machine. Cool Machines have a yellow safety bar that reminds the loader the safest depth to manipulate the material in the hopper.
Make sure the attic has proper lighting. Most problems occur when the insulator guesses as to how much material has been blown into a given area. The problem is more-often-than-not, under insulating. Filling an attic with blown-in-insulation requires a bit of practice to get an even, level depth.
Throughout the process of insulating the insulator will need help to drop extra hose out of the attic. Kinks in the hose do happen at this stage. The operator of the machine can detect a higher pitch from the machine when a kink or clog occurs. We recommend using a clear/opaque hose so the clog can be quickly identified.