For many homeowners, finding ways to save money on utilities requires careful supervision… Did you turn off the lights when not using a room? Have you updated to the newest energy-efficient appliances? Resealed your windows recently? All of these can help you in your path to becoming an energy-efficient household, while also being environmentally conscious. Despite all these efforts, one of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of your money is to look at your home’s insulation needs, especially in your attic. Upgrading and properly insulating your attic is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy costs in your home all year round. And fortunately for you, it is possible to Do-It-Yourself, saving money on labour costs. So, here’s our guide on DIY blown-in insulation using cellulose:
Tools you will need
- Blower machine and Insulation
- Dust mask
- Long sleeve shirt
- Safety Glasses
- Shop Vacuum
- Xacto knife
- Caulking or Expanding foam
WARNING: It is highly recommended that DIYers use all the safety equipment listed in this guide. Even though cellulose is non-toxic, blown insulation still creates dust that can be harmful to lungs and eyes. Wearing gloves, respiratory/dusk masks, and safety glasses will protect you when installing insulation. Please also remember, this DIY installation guide is not complete for every situation but meant to provide the basic steps when installing your own cellulose insulation in your home.
Step 1: Sealing
Homeowners and contractors will want to pull back any existing insulation and inspect entrances for pipes, wires, etc. It is these spots that many DIYers tend to skip and can cost BIG in the long run. No matter what anyone tells you, it doesn’t matter how deep or what R-value your insulation is rated for if perforations in your ceiling are allowing heat to enter and/or escape.
Best practices are to seal any cracks larger than a ¼” with expanding foam, and anything below a ¼” with fire-blocking caulking. In doing so, DIYers will ensure that the installed insulation doesn’t go to waste while protecting against potential leaks and other unmentionables.
Step 2: Air Circulation
Attics need insulation. But they also desperately need airflow to protect against moisture. Unfortunately, it is a common mistake for beginner DIYers to blow insulation across the entirety of an attic with no thought of how air can move in and out of your house.
The best protection against blowing insulation into your eaves and blocking this precious airflow is to install vent chutes! These inexpensive blockades can be purchased at any home improvement store and are generally manufactured from either plastic or foam. You can purchase either style and still be effective, however, foam vents are more rigid than their plastic counterparts. This means that first-time insulation installers don’t have to worry about crumpling or damaging their newly purchased vents when stapling them to the rafters.
PRO-TIP: Stand in your unlit attic to make sure light is entering the vent chutes. If not, airflow constrictions could be present.
Step 3: Mark Desired Insulation Level
Depending on your insulation rating before blowing, and whether you are replacing old insulation, will help you in determining how much cellulose will be needed to blow. It is best to talk to a professional about where you reside, what’s your lifestyle, building size etc. to determine how much insulation is appropriate for your home.
After you have a measurement, mark every 3rd or 4th truss with a permanent marker for your desired insulation level. You’ll also want to make sure that you are measuring from the dry-wall and not the rafters.
Step 4: Fill the Blower
This is where most will do well with a little help from their friends. Having an extra hand fill the blower with separated cellulose can make your DIY insulation project run smoothly.
Your assistant will want to break up the compressed cellulose before putting it into the hopper of the machine. Although there is an agitator in most blowers to help avoid clogging the hose, breaking up insulation beforehand ensures that blockages won’t be a nuisance.
Step 4: Blow-in your Insulation
Starting from the furthest corners, DIYers will want to work their way back to the centre. Following this method will not only ensure that areas are not missed, but it will also even out your workflow. By not having to adjust the hose every couple of minutes, beginners will complete their project quicker and with fewer complications.
Place the hose on the drywall floor and move it back and forth to fill up each rafter bay. It is also recommended to blow slightly above the marks that you created in Step 3. This is because blown-in insulation will settle over a couple of months. This will also help clear your hopper and hose of any left-over cellulose.
Who doesn’t like easy cleanup? But on that note….
Step 5: Clean-up
Shop vacuums will be your best friend after blowing your own insulation. Look for areas around your blower, areas of the attic that didn’t need insulation, and anywhere else that cellulose may have ended up.
It is also important to note that air conditioning units in attics need their airflow and drip pans free from insulation. These areas are prone to mould and damage and could be an expensive fix down the road.
If you’re interested in installing your own insulation, the DIY cellulose blown-in method will not only save you money but also create a sense of accomplishment! If you have more questions about your next insulation project, give us a call! Climatizer Insulation supplies all the materials you need and has the knowledge and expertise to make your home energy efficient.
Need a blower? Climatizer has rental options perfect for the DIYer, such as our friendly Krendl 475.