Blown Insulation retro-fit?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Terrabus, Nov 16, 2004.

  1. Terrabus

    Terrabus Middle-Aged Delinquent

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    Location:
    Browntown, WI--the land of cheese!
    I'm looking at buying an old house and I know nobody has done any insulation work to it in over 60 years. I've been checking out ways of blowing in insulation without ripping out the drywall and having to put up new stuff. Thus far, the foam seems to be the front-running idea, but a tad expensive. Anybody know a cheaper way? I mean, is there another way to stuff insulation into a wall that doesn't involve a ton of cost?

    I need to price the rental of a blowing unit and figure out just how many bags of insulationtion the house would need. However, all I have read about the subject has stated that I need to have a professional do it because it's hard to judge if the insulation is packed right. does this sound right or is it some kind of promotional scam?

    I'd rather not rip out the drywall, because then I'll just end up re-doing the wiring and everything else, which would add cost to the project.


    Ted
     
  2. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    403
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Washington State
    Ted, I have not done what you are considering, but I do have experience blowing insultation into an attic space. It was quick and easy. The power company paid for the equipment and supplies as part of an energy-saving promotion.

    I don't see why any ripping out of drywall would be involved, or, for that matter, why you'd need a professional to do the job. You can cut cookie-cutter-like holes in the sheetrock and blow the stuff right in. (Watch those wires!) It could be tedious, because you've got firewalls and other horizontal members to contend with, and you may not know where they are until a compartment suddenly fills up. The big pain would be patching all those holes. To do it, you'd simply replace the "cookies" (backed by a piece of 1x2), tape, and feather out with joint compound.

    If your siding is easily removable, or you are planning on gutting it, it might be easier to approach this from the outside. If your sheathing has to be replaced, that would be the ideal time to insulate, using the normal roll stuff.

    I'm famous for hanging around professional supply stores and asking questions, as well as nosing around remodel sites. (I guess a girl gets away with that more easily.) I've found that just about EVERY project is best done by a professional . . . UNTIL you figure out those one or two tricks that make the difference! Good luck!
     

  3. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    Since you have an old house you might consider what amelia described, i.e. blowing in the insulation through round holes in the wall cut near ceiling height. Would a wide crown moulding be able to conceal the holes and fit into the character of the house?

    Around here the blower machines are free to use as long as a certain number of bags of insulation are purchased. What I have not been able to figure out is how many bags it will take. The label/advertisments say they will cover 40 square feet. That doesn't tell me a thing when I need cubic feet, not square feet.

    In the 1970s I purchased 100 bags to use in the attics of three homes. We had overkill with about 18" of insulation in addition to the feeble 2" or 3" that was already there. However it sure was toasty and cut down on the fuel bills. I wish that the government would do a tax incentive program again. The house I am in now could use some improvement and it would be nice to have a tax advantage to do so.
     
  4. brosil

    brosil Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,112
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2003
    Location:
    Ohio
    I had mine done by a professional with a blown fiberglass mixed with a glue. It doesn't settle like the others. I recommend it.
     
  5. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

    Messages:
    11,076
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2002
    Location:
    South Central Kansas
    When a person has an open cavity to blow into, there is now a cellulose procedure that can be used to prevent settling of product. A water mist is added at the nozzle to stick the cellulose together. (A procedure shown on "This Old House")

    I would like to learn more of rock wool since seeing a demonstration on a home improvement show. A demonstrator placed a couple of inches of rock wool in his hand, placed a penny on top, then melted the penny using a torch---all without yelling ouch!
    He stated that rock wool is making a come back in usage. Looked good to me, but I'm not going to do the demo to find out first hand.
     
  6. gspig

    gspig Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    160
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2002
    I blew cellulose into the walls of my house. I used a hole saw and cut a 2 inch hole on each stud bay. The store gives free 1 day rental of the blower with a certain amount of insulation purchased. Held the hose against the hole and filled until insulation started blowing out around the hole opening. I saved the drywall plugs I drilled out and used piece of wood lathe to hold the plug in the hole, then hid the plug with drywall tape and compound.

    I have seen contractors who do insulation drill holes on the exterior the same way I did inside, then they plug the hole with a plastic plug. You would then have to put up siding or something to cover the plugs.
     
  7. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

    Messages:
    665
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2002
    Location:
    Southern Ontario CANADA
    If the house has outdated wiring, you may be better off in the long run by removing the drywall and upgrading both the insulation and wiring at the same time. Yup, it will definately increase the cost and time involved... but when you're done, you're done with all of it. It would also be a great opportunity to add additional properly grounded recepticles (old houses have very few), light switchs, cable/satellite TV - Network - Telephone cable, etc.

    I'm one of those folks that love old houses, but when it comes to the electrical, plumbing, heating, insulation and often even the layout, some can be a real bear to work with. Working on an old house is the ultimate test of patience, dedication and creativity... and it ain't cheap.

    Have fun,
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

    Messages:
    10,854
    Joined:
    May 22, 2003
    Location:
    Zone 7
    For attic work I can get insulation blown cheaper than I can buy it and rent a machine. For the walls in the older home do as gspig suggested. Works nicley and does not make much of a mess.
     
  9. crunchy

    crunchy Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    I agree with janon.
    I bought a house that had blown in insulation in the walls. I have had the 'opportunity' to rip out some of the drywall and see how good of a job they did. Well, not very. There are lots of nooks and crannies in a stick built wall. You will never find even half of them.
    Go ahead and rip out the drywall. Do it right. Replace all the electrical while you are there.

    crunchy
     
  10. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Location:
    Colorado
    On top of this, consider that insulation with an air passage through it = Rzero.

    Also, a vapor barrier needs to be on the inside of an insulated house. An old house without insulation in the walls will not have a vapor barrier, which means the insulation you put in will accumulate moisture from condensation - not a good thing.

    Perhaps one of the products described will form a vapor barrier.

    Maybe removing drywall or siding isn't such a bad idea.
     
  11. uarelovedbygod

    uarelovedbygod Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    246
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Location:
    Ky
    just a spin off of the original question...I have a room on my home built on an old deck....16x32 feet. Anywhere between 6-24 inches of clearance under it. Has a vapor barrier but no insulation underneath. I can get to one side of it by removing a skirting along the 32 ft length but I don't fit to crawl under. Is there a good sprayed insulation/blower that would allow me to insulate under this room?

    thanks!

    --chris