I have seen this posted a couple times, but my husband and I finally completed our biggest project yet, reinsulating our house. We had been waiting to do this for a while as our 1983 built house was just not insulated enough. The house would fluctuate wildly. We received a home energy audit the first year we lived in the house and we were told that new windows/doors and air sealing the attic and blowing in more insulation would make a huge difference for us. We were very leaky, and the estimated R value in the attic was R-16. So that is what we have set out to work on this year.
First off, going into this project we knew that we needed to finish some on the ground stuff first. So in leading up to this, we had about 30 new cans lights put in, replaced our ceiling fans and put in bracers, did some updates to our HVAC system, vented our microwave vent hood to the roof, got our bathroom vent fans properly hooked up and got the three attic fans up and properly running. This is all stuff we largely did with the old insulation being there. We wanted all of this done so we didn’t have to disturb our new insulation later.
Next up, building the insulation removal machine. We thought we were going to rent a professional machine and we thought about hiring it out. However, we found some youtube videos on people building one with a 2 HP dust collector, which Harbor Freight sells for $209.99 and 3″ corrugated solid drain pipe, so that’s what we did. It took us a few weeks to get the machine in and an evening to put it all together. Amazon sells insulation removal bags made by a brand named Rhino, so we bought 15 of those.
Now for insulation sucking time! This really was the worst part of the project for us. It took us 8 days of work spread over 3 weeks pulling the insulation out. There was bird nests, and mice droppings and other critter crap. Some of the spaces were really tight to get into. It was dusty, hot and gross. And the worst part was that our roof at some point formerly had been a cedar shake roof, and there was a ton of debris that kept clogging our line. Lots of frustration, but we filled every single bag we bought and dumped roughly 1200 pounds of old insulation.
Next was fixing all electrical issues that were now exposed in our empty attic. This took the husband a few days of crawling around. Luckily it wasn’t too much because he had been updating this stuff over the last couple years.
Installing baffles and airsealing was the last steps before blowing. We installed plastic ventilation baffles for all of the soffits which were now outfitted with metal soffit cover to keep critters out. This was rough due to needing to get deep into the side. A hammer tacker made it much easier. We tried the foam ones but they were too flimsy in the tight space and nails from the roof wanted to break them. We used a great stuff pro series gaps and crack foam with the foam gun to air seal all of the top plates, around our HVAC return (which we found had been installed very crappily by our HVAC guys and was pulling a ton of air from the attic). We put in Tenmat recessed can insulation covers over every recessed can and foam sealed. This was another 3 days or so of work.
FINALLY FOR THE NEW STUFF! We bought 50 bags of insulation, this was enough to bring the 2100 feet we were insulating up to an R49 according to Owens Corning attic cat site. Machine rental was free from home depot. They screwed up on our delivery 3 weeks in a row so we were able to get a 2nd day of rental for free, which is what we needed. This whole project is really a 2 man gig, but here most of all. My husband was in the garage and I was on loading. 1/3 of the bale of insulation went in about every 2 minutes. We got to a point were we were blowing in a bag every 8 minutes. Dealing with some hot days, this also turned into a 2 day ordeal.
BREAKDOWN ON COSTS
$200 Insulation bags
$210 Insulation machine
$250 Spray foam and gun
$450 Tenmat recessed light cover
$100 random stuff (tyvek suits, gloves, walkie talkies – which were clutch when dealing with issues)
There is probably some costs I am missing, and this is really rough, but this is most of the big stuff.
In referencing how this would have cost had we had a pro do it. Our neighbor just had the insulation removed from her house due to a house fire while we were doing ours. They paid $3100 for removal only. His professional machine clogging is how I now know that both our houses used to be cedar shake roofs. We had received a quote a while back to just insulate, and it was $2400ish. So despite the hard work, we definitely saved money doing it ourselves.
Did it work? We have noticed a huge difference already. For the first time ever, every temp sensor in our house is reading the same temperature. We had a 90 degree day yesterday and I was able to get the house down to 68! Which is not a temp we keep it at, but it was nice.
Will we do it again? Looking back on it, I would have paid the pro to suck it all out. We will never ever ever do that again. I’m glad we did it once, but we wont do it again. The other stuff wasn’t terrible, just hard work and I wish we had started sooner in the year so capture some better temperature days.
Imgur: Didn’t get many pictures of the project unfortunately. https://imgur.com/a/iHiSDrh