I spend a lot of time trying to improve building performance on other people’s buildings through my day job, but I especially love experimenting on my own house. I’m in the middle of renovating what will be the kids’ playroom, and wanted to add some insulation to the attic above. Here’s the story of my experience with DIY blown-in fiberglass insulation.
My attic already had some fiberglass batts. Of course they were a little sporadic and didn’t fit tightly around things like recessed lights. The lights are IC rated so the gaps just represent heat leaks.
To deal with this as efficiently as possible I figured blown-in insulation was the way to go. It’s easy to transport up through the small hatch into the attic (it travels through a hose) and fills in all the little gaps nicely.
I had to choose between cellulose and fiberglass blown-in insulation material.
While cellulose probably does a bit better job at reducing air flow, I’m not too concerned about this as my intent is to create an air barrier at the ceiling plane anyway. I didn’t love the idea of a bunch of fire retardant chemicals in the cellulose, but the real clincher for the fiberglass was the machine and the mess (or lack there-of).
My local Lowe’s gave me the Owens Corning AttiCat machine to go with the fiberglass material at no charge. There was no minimum purchase or other strings. The machine was easy to transport in my minivan (best work truck ever) since it easily came apart into two pieces. The bottom was a little heavy to lift into the van but nothing too bad.
In the YouTube videos I watched of other installs, cellulose looked really dusty. I’ve been in tons of attics with cellulose, but had never seen it installed before.
The videos of blown-in fiberglass, by contrast, looked shockingly clean. Normally I associate fiberglass with itchy four-letter-word-inducing misery, but this looked half decent.
Turns out, the videos were pretty accurate. The blown-in fiberglass was really low dust and I didn’t have any reaction other than some slightly red eyes despite my safety glasses. Full coverage goggles would probably have been better.
Setting up the machine was a breeze. It was supposed to come with a remote control on the end of the hose, but mine didn’t for whatever reason. Luckily I had a capable assistant to push the buttons. I still fed all the bags in.
There are good instructions and a video on the Lowe’s website and I don’t have much to add to that, so I won’t get into details here. But suffice to say it pretty much lived up to the marketing portrayal.
I did the whole job, including pick-up/drop-off of equipment and installation of insulation, in about 3 to 4 hours.
This was a rare DIY project that was as easy as expected, perhaps even easier.