Blown-in insulation -- your opinion?

Heard in on the news today: heating cost is going to rise by some 48% this winter. Sounds like, if there's a time to beef up the insulation in the house, this is it.
Does anyone here have experience with blown-in insulation? If so, what do you think of it?
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Messy, but cheap, and fills in gaps better than the rolled stuff..
It tends to settle after a few years. I've been told going in and mussing it up some will restore it's effectiveness. Guess I'll find out next year.
Pagan
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I'm thinking of getting an energy audit ($100), but interested in opinions here:
I'm also looking at blowing in more insulation. Budget is tight this year but am willing to do it if it pays off in a few years.
I'm in Minnesota, so it gets colde here. House built in 1980. Current insulation is only as deep as the rafters (6-8"?) Not sure what it is -- some type of white stuff (blown in).
How much insulation should I have? My old house seemed to have a couple feet or so. If I add more, do I have to make sure my soffit vents have those "extender" things that go on the inside? That would make the job much harder, as my roof has a pretty shallow pitch.
Other than that, is it as simple as blowing more in? How do you ensure even coverage? Any cost estimates for about 1400 sq ft of attic, doing it myself (at whatever depth you recommend)?
Any ideas about a payoff timeline?
Thanks! -Tim
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Look into your local utility programs. In Mass., we used an "approved" contractor and the state re-imbursed for 1/2 of the cost, up to $3000. Included in the rebate were soffit vents, etc. and anything else related to energy efficiency (not windows, though).
Our contractor used fiberglass puffs, blew them in through the siding and you can't tell they were ever here. That, plus the addition of r-30 in the attic, we got our money back after three winters, saving about $1,000. (Old farmhouse, all kinds of air leakage issues beyond this.)

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Just be careful not to block your soffit vents.
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I had it in my last two houses and it saved a bundle on energy cost. They were flat roofed houses in the city. Of course, if you have enough already, the gain is minimal.
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I think you have to be really serious about sealing up all the little holes and cracks into your living space first, or you'll be living with a fine coating of grey dust forever after.
Other than that, it's great.

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Maybe with some types. The type I've had in our two homes isn't terribly dusty -- just chunks of fiberglas or cellulose. My FIL's home has the "grey dusty" type you speak of and that stuff is horribly messy.
-Tim
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Get the blown in fiberglass. It's better than the recycled paper crap. If it's only to the top of the rafters you need more. Probably a lot more. I'd guess that if you added all you could now, the savings would offest the higher fuel costs this winter.
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Blown rock wool is considerably better than fiberglass in almost every respect.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Explain, pls?
Fiberglas is just so much less messy and dusty...
-Tim
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Tim Fischer wrote:

What is rock wool? Does it have the same problems as asbestos (i.e. being carcinogenic and causing lung disease)?
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Rock wool is made from Volcanic Rock. Has superior insulating properties.
Both fiberglass and rock wool have dangers of cancer. Only if the fibers are fine enough that they can reach the lungs. Probably not comparable to the asbestos problem but still one should wear a respirator when handling anything of that type.
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Actually, rock wool (at least Roxul brand) is has a spun mining slag component I think.

Compared to fiberglass, rock wool:
1) Slightly higher R value. 2) Fibers are larger and heavier, and not nearly as fine, meaning:     a) much less of a skin irritant (not as "picky"), you don't      get the itches nearly as bad.     b) much less "dusty" than fiberglass, doesn't "fly" nearly      as bad.     c) Not nearly as much a breathing or eye hazard during      installation. (you'll be tempted to not use any      if you're installing walls or underneath you)     d) There are research indication that cancer hazard is      more related to fiber size than chemical makeup per-se... 3) Denser, better sound deadening properties 4) Considerably better fire barrier properties
It's worst drawback is a consequence of its weight/density - it doesn't pack down nearly as much in manufacture, so you need more bags. Still, it's usually very close in price to fiberglass on a per-square-foot basis.
We had rockwool blown into our house attic through an attic hatch inside a closet. Essentially _zero_ dust in the house.
After using rockwool, both blown in and batts, I'll never go back to fiberglass.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Well, the plan is to fluff the ceiling in my trailer, but that's been delayed to the 22nd.
I do have one practical experience. At my parents house, there is an additon. A photo from way back shows a screened porch which is about 10 by 20 feet. There is a sofa along the one end, and the length is about twice the width. Someone put in picture windows, and the addition is now part of the heated indoors.
Every year since we moved in (1975) there have been HUGE icicles, on the back gutters. I mean, as wide as the gutters, 20 feet or so, and down to the ground. Every year, the water backs up the roof, and drips through. So, my parents have put down piepans, bowls, etc. To keep the carpet from being soaked. And every year my Dad is on a ladder out back. Chipping channels in the ice, so the water can drain out. With the ladder next to the picture windows, and risking his life. Dad's a very capable fellow, but he's also retired, and a grandfather. Several years ago, I was talking with a former friend of mine, who had been in the insulation business. He had the cellulose blower. We discussed the matter, and Bob agreed to help me insulate the ceiling. It took me a couple years to get permissison to do the job. Dad takes some time to think. We calculated the footage, and I went to the store to get some bags of cellulose. On the day of the job, we converged on the house. I got up on a ladder, and took a circular saw to cut a hole in the side of the house. I had bought two 12 by 12 vents, and so I cut a hole on each end. Bob fed the machine, and I got to be the ladder man. I was busy cranking the hose around in my best Play Fireman routine. After awhile, Bob came over and said we had three bags in, how did it look. I got down, and Bob got up on the ladder. He said it looked pretty good, and we ought to quit there. I had a real brain flash (no it didn't hurt) and replied that it took a couple years to get permission to do this much, and no way Dad was going to let us do anything more if this doesn't work. We do all six bags, adn get it over with. Bob says OK, and went back to putting cellulose into the machine. I went back to playing fireman with the hose. Anyhow, the next time we had a big snow, Dad went out to look. He came back in with a grin, and says I got to go out and look at this. We went out to look, and I couldn't figure out what he wanted to show me. It was just some snow on the roof. Well, that was the point. Flat, even, white snow. No icicles. That was several years ago. In the meantime, no climbing the ladder to chip drain channels in the ice dam. No risking being on the ladder next to the picture window. No cake pans lined up along the glass. I'll admit this is only one roof, and only one man's story. But, as Dad gets older, it is sure nice that he's not up on a ladder in the winter. Next to the windows. I cannot comment on any reduction in heating bill. It was only the add on room, and wasn't a big portion of the house.
--

Christopher A. Young
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It was recommended by the builder of my 2-year old house. Most of the ceiling stuff was blown in after the dry wall was up through small holes that were then patched and finished. There's 6 inches between the roof and ceiling and also 6 inches in the walls.
It works beautifully. The inside surfaces are warm in the winter, heating bills are low and, as a bonus, the house is remarkably quiet (compared to our old house which had fiberglass insulation).
HD is selling bags of cellulose in today's paper for less than $7.00/40 sq. ft. Buy 20 bags and the blower rental is free.
Drawback: Cellulose is dusty and messy to install although it goes in quickly. It should also be moistened a bit when it is blown to control dust and settling. That can be tricky.
Keep in mind that while insulation is important, most home heat loss is typically via infiltration and air movement. Seal those cracks, air leaks, windows and doors too.
TKM
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How do you blow it to the edges witout covering the vents? Would it make more sence to staple down a boarder of rolled instulation a blow in the rest?
Also, and good suggestions for around attic doors?
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c snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You could roll and staple it down at the end. But the also sell channels that staple to the rafters and leave a 1.5" clear space running up from the vents. Pro-vent and Dura-vent are examples. If they work with you roof configuration, you can staple them and blow away.
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TKM wrote:

Did my mothers house and had to do the walls from inside since it was a stucco exterior. Messy? Very. Especially since I had my brother feeding the machine. I was on the ladder holding the hose when suddenly the room filled with insulation and dust. Looked and the hose had blown off the outlet but my brilliant brother was still stuffing away!
Harry K
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