Does Loose Fill Insulation Have To Be Blown In?

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Insulation keeps our homes warm during winter and cool during summer. It conditions our homes at the desired temperatures all year round. With many insulation options available for your home, you may have settled for loose-fill insulation for your attic. But if you're at a loss on how to install it, you're in the right place. We've done the research to address your concern.

Loose-fill insulation does not necessarily need to be blown in using a blower machine. In essence, there are two ways to insulate your home with loose-fill insulation:

  1. Machine blown-in loose-fill insulation
  2. Loose-fill insulation installed by hand

Continue reading to learn in detail the methods you can use to install loose-fill insulation and the different types available. Also, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of loose-fill insulation and the relevant costs.

Worker with a hose is spraying Fill-loose insulation in the attic of a house,Does Loose Fill Insulation Have To Be Blown In?

How Do You Install Loose-Fill Insulation? 

A female worker is installing a fiberglass insulation on a wall during wood frame house construction

Loose-fill is an excellent choice for the attic or walls with enclosed spaces. It is a DIY project, though you can call a professional if you are not up to the task.

You can use a machine blower to install the loose-fill if you have a big area to insulate. However, there's no need to use the machine if the section to be insulated is small.

The amount of loose-fill insulation needed depends on the recommended R-value by the building code in your area. Most homes require an R-value of 38 in their attics, though a higher value is better for very cold regions. 

Also, you will need to know the type of loose-fill insulation you need, its R-value, and the number of bags required. 

The type of insulation to use largely depends on your budget, and the R-value charts provided by the manufacturer will determine how many bags to use. 

Machine Blown In Loose-Fill Insulation

Do you need to buy a blower machine or rent one? As you ponder on the question, it's good to note that these machines are expensive, ranging between $13,000 and $16,000

So, unless you are a contractor or you have several homes, you are better off renting at $205 for half or full day. Yet some shops can allow you to use their machines for free if you purchase large amounts of insulation.

Before bringing in the machine, prepare the area that requires insulation so that you can cut down the amount of time the machine is in your hands.

Hence, the first step you ought to take is to check if there are any repairs required, such as water leaks in the attic roof, loose electrical wiring, amongst other issues. Get rid of rodents that may have made the attic their home. 

For a successful project, two people have to operate the machine; one to feed the machine with the loose-fill material, and the other to control the hose pipe through which the loose-fill material will be coming out. 

But, before you begin the job, you need to get your safety gear ready, which includes work gloves, goggles, dust masks, and long pants and sleeves. 

Below is a brief guide on how to insulate your attic with loose-fill material using a blower machine.

Items needed:

  • Rented blower machine
  • Loose-fill material
  • Utility knife

Instructions:

  1. Screw in the hose pipe to the blower machine and connect it to an electrical outlet and switch it on.
  2. Cut up the loose-fill material according to the manual. In that case, the material comes in bags, a utility knife should be used to cut the bag in half.
  3. Feed the machine with the contents of the bag. 
  4. Switch on the machine, which will start the process of cutting the loose-fill and passing it through the hose pipe and into the space you are insulating. 
  5. Allow the material out of the hose pipe, spraying evenly up to the required height, as indicated on the loose-fill package.

Below is a video showing how to install loose-fill insulation in the attic:     

Loose-Fill Insulation Installed By Hand

If the space to be insulated is small, there’s no need to use a blower machine. You can complete the job using your hands.

There are two methods you can use:

Using A Rake

In this method, the tool you will be using to mix the loose-fill material is a rake.

Items needed:
  • Rake
  • Cutter or knife
  • 2 feet deep pale
  • 3 feet deep pale
  • A mixing tool such as a piece of rod or wood.
Instructions:
  1. Cut open the pales and pour the loose-fill material into a large pale.
  2. Mix it up together using a piece of rod or wood.
  3. Transfer the mixture into the smaller pale, and scatter the material into the area to be insulated. 
  4. Pour the loose-fill material until the area is well covered but not yet up to the required height.
  5. Fluff it around using your rake while adding more loose-fill material.
  6. Continue adding the insulation material and fluffing it with your rake until it reaches the required height. 

Using A Drill Mixer

Check out this cordless electric drill on Amazon.

Have a look at this set of drill mixer on Amazon.

You could make installation a little easier by using a drill mixer. 

Items needed:
  • Electric drill (cordless is preferable)
  • Knife or cutter
  • A pale that is 2 feet deep and a bigger one that is 3 feet deep
  • Drywall or paint mixer attachment
Instructions:
  1. Cut open the bag with the loose-fill material and pour it into the big pale.
  2. Attach the drywall or paint mixer attachment to the electric drill.
  3. Put the mixer inside the pale with the loose-fill material and run it at the lowest setting, ensuring it is disintegrated until there are no more clumps.
  4. Pour the mixture into the small pale and scatter it evenly onto the area to be insulated.

Is Loose-Fill Insulation Worth It?

Man looking up from filling walls with insulation in house building site

There are three types of loose-fill insulation that you can use to insulate your attic, whether you install it by hand or blower machine. 

It provides excellent insulation for your attic, is easy to install, and lowers your energy bills. To help you decide on the best loose-fill insulation, let’s find out more about each as explained below:

Fiberglass Loose-fill Insulation

This fiberglass insulation is on Amazon.

This type of insulation is manufactured by heating glass to a liquid and then spinning it into thin fibers. Its average R-value is between 2.2 and 2.7 per inch square. 

On average, the cost of installing fiberglass insulation ranges between $0.88 and $1.64 per square foot. Therefore, it will cost you from $300 to $600 for a 500 square foot area. The cost of labor per hour is between $25 and $50 each hour.

The following are the pros and cons of fiberglass loose-fill insulation in tabular form:

Pros

Cons

Can reduce your energy bills by 40 to 50%. Does not repel moisture well that can lead to the growth of mildew and mold.
A natural fire-resistant. Not adequately dense, thus not providing a proper air-tight seal.
With soundproof properties. Can be dangerous to our lungs and respiratory systems.
Relatively affordable.

Cellulose Loose-fill

It's one of the most common eco-friendly insulation. It is manufactured from sisal, corncobs, or recycled materials such as cardboard, newspaper, and waste paper. 

It has an R-value of 3.5, costing from $1 to $1.50 per square foot to install. For 1,000 square foot area, it would cost between $600 and $1,200.

The cost of blown-in insulation in your attic will cost between $600 and $1,200 for a 1,000 square foot area, while the cost of labor ranges between $40 and $70 per hour with materials included. 

Find below the pros and cons of cellulose loose-fill in a tabular form:

Pros

Cons

Eco-friendly as it is made from recycled material such as newspaper. Can be messy with a lot of dust being produced during installation.
Improves air-tight insulation by 30%. There's a short supply of boric acid.
Boric acid that is added makes cellulose resistant to fire, mold, and insects. Easily absorbs moisture.

Rock Wool

Attick loft insulation man taking roc-wool plate

Rock wool is made by firing iron and iron ore, and the byproduct is mixed with other minerals to resemble sheep’s wool. 

It has an R-value between 3 and 3.3 per inch of thickness. It resists moisture and retains heat more than cellulose or fiberglass, and is more expensive than fiberglass and cellulose insulation.

 Below are the pros and cons of rock wool loose-fill insulation:

Pros Cons
Made from over 70% recycled material. It’s expensive.
With a density more than 3 times that of fiberglass, it provides an excellent barrier against sound. Not good for ceiling installation because it is dense and thus can be heavy.
Does not absorb water, therefore mold and mildew will not grow on it. Can be hazardous to our health due to the tiny rock and mineral fibers that can be inhaled during installation.
Excellent fire-resistant material.

In Closing

A female worker is installing a fiberglass insulation

Loose-fill insulation is one of the best ways of insulating your attic or walls with enclosed spaces in them. They are relatively affordable, with rock wool insulation being the most expensive, more than fiberglass and cellulose loose-fill insulation.

It’s best to use a blower machine if you intend to insulate a large area. But, if the space is small, installing using your hands will suffice.

Check out our previous posts on how to calculate the required thickness of cellulose insulation in your attic and the determinant factors on how thick blown-in insulation should be:

How Thick Is Cellulose Attic?

How Thick Should Blown Insulation Be?

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