Blown insulation meets a variety of a homeowner's insulating needs. With energy costs being one of the most significant portions of a homeowner’s monthly expenses, it's always a good idea to review how much insulation you have in your home. And it's almost always a good investment to add more insulation because you'll save money on heating bills in the long run. In the attic, blown insulation it's fast and easy to install. When it comes to existing, closed-up walls, it's really the only option, unless you want to start ripping up walls.
Job for a pro?
But is it a job for a do-it-yourselfer? The answer is probably not -- blowing in insulation to places you can't see takes "feel" for how the insulation is being expelled into the wall. The cellulose fibers of insulation, in theory, should settle neatly at the bottom of a wall. In reality, the fibers get caught on nails, criss-crossing electrical wires and conduit, and other hidden obstructions. Blowing in insulation is an intuitive process honed by years of experience. Insulation technicians know to probe for obstructions and know how to work around them. Unless you're simply blowing insulation into your attic where you can see where it's going, it's probably best to leave this job to the pros. If you are installing it in your attic yourself, you'll need to rent blowing equipment and estimate how much insulation you'll need. Consult with the retail outlet where you purchase your insulation to get an exact figure.
While you could install batt insulation (the kind that comes in rolls) in your attic, the advantage of blown in insulation is that it's much quicker and easier to install. Plus, it creates seamless blanket in your attic. The amount of insulation that you need varies depending on what area of the country you live in. Since blown in insulation gives you better coverage, you won't have missed pockets, and it's more effective at keeping moisture out. When you blow in insulation between your walls, you'll also have the added benefit of additional soundproofing.
Some people choose to use foam insulation in their walls. While this is an excellent choice, it is more expensive than blown in insulation, especially cellulose insulation.
How it's blown into your walls
Here's how the process of blowing insulation into your walls works. Note that blowing in insulation can be a messy job and that care must be taken with pets and small children so that they don't come into contact with the insulating material.
A hole is drilled about a foot from the ceiling, and another hole is drilled about 2 feet from the floor. Most studs lay 16 inches on-center across the width of your wall, you can expect these holes to be spaced about every 16 inches.
With an insulation blower, a technician blows cellulose or mineral insulation fiber (loose insulation) into your walls. Cellulose is shredded newspapers treated with fire retardant and is an effective and well-established insulating material. Cellulose also settles into wall cavities very well. Mineral fibers are generally fiberglass. It's a more expensive option because it is more water resistant and won't rot.
The holes are plugged either with plastic plugs or speckling compound. Unless you've prearranged repainting services, you will be responsible for repairing your wall. Keep in mind that technicians are not painters, so you might want to do this job yourself or hire a painter. Many people take this opportunity to simply repaint the rooms that have been insulated.