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Vikeologist 08-01-2006 09:38 PM

Insulating Attic?
This might be off-topic, and if it is, I apologize.

I have a house that has zero insulation in the attic. I went up there and all there is up there is newspapers. Old newspapers spread around in the attic. there is paper between the joists that keep the papers above the joists, so if I blow in insulation it wont go between the joists.

My question is, can I just blow in the insulation right over the papers and the paper between the joists? Or do I have to remove all the paper so that the new insulation will go between the joists?

Another thing is if I do take it all out and put insulation between the joists and I want to remodel a room and want to take down the ceiling, then all of the insulation will fall down through the joists since there is no plastic holding it in.

I hope im making sense, but I dont know of another way to explain it. Look forward to hearing your replies.


Square Eye 08-01-2006 10:12 PM

I'd take the news papers out.
I'm actually thinking fire hazard. If a problem ever arises in a junction box anywhere near those papers, you could have a fire smoldering up there for hours before you notice it. Not that I think newspapers would smolder for hours, they'd more likely flash and rapidly spread across the attic.

Insulation doesn't burn as easily as newspaper. As for the part that you want to remodel later, you could use fiberglass batts or rolls. When you take the ceiling down, roll it back up when it falls and put it right back in when you're done.

Welcome to the forum,

Vikeologist 08-02-2006 06:22 AM

So you would recommend puting in rolls of insulation instead of blowing it in? I have talked to a few people that said just blow in the insulation in right over the papers, but I do see your point.

Does it matter if the insulation doesnt go between the joists? If it would just lay on top of them? Would that space between the ceiling and the insulation hurt anything?

See right now my air conditioner cant even keep up because once the sun shines on the roof, the attic heats up, and so does the house.

Have you ever heard of a house just having newspapers in the attic for insulation?

If you were in my situation, could you tell me exactly how you would go about this? Step by step?

I am stapling air channels to the underside of the roof near the over hang and am going to be puting soffit as well. All i have for ventilation up there now is just a gable vent on both ends of the house. No roof vents whatsoever. So if I put those channels in for the soffit, what other vents would you recommend puting in?

Thanks again for your time!

Square Eye 08-02-2006 09:59 AM

I'd put rolls in where you're going to remodel.
Then I'd blow the rest in.

I don't think I've ever seen a house with newspapers in the attic like that.

The gable vents should be fine with the soffit vents.

I worked for a (major for this area) home builder a few years back. The debate was, with vented soffit; ridge vents or roof vents, vs. gable vents, vs. roof and gable vents. The theory was, if you have ridge vents, you don't need gable vents, and if you have gable vents, then you don't need roof or ridge vents. Some of the guys would argue non-stop over this.

If you feel that the gable vents are not enough, put in some roof vents.

If you do put any rolls in the attic, take a 5 or 6 foot long 2x4 with you. Use it to stuff the insulation where you can't reach. there's not much tech to insulating. Keep a piece 2'x2' with you to use as a filler. when you come to a splice in a joist or a pipe, etc. you can use the the filler piece to fill any small voids, just tear a little off of the scrap.

When you blow the rest, expect a major cloud of dust. Wear the best respirator you can afford, and eye goggles. They will stay steamed up, so expect to have to stop occasionally to wipe them out. Start at the furthest point and work your way back to the attic access that way, you won't loose your joists and you won't track it up. You should be able to work from the center, by shoving the hose outward and pulling it back as it fills the space.
AND this is a 2 man job. You need someone on the ground to operate the machine. You also need a way to communicate. If you have a car alarm, the panic button will be a good signaling device because the person at the pump won't be able to hear thunder. A two-way radio is a waste, and a cell phone is too slow to dial.

You can do this. You can get professional looking results if you plan ahead.

OH! You will need a good shower when you are done. Either type of insulation will cover you up in tiny fibers or just plain dust.

I hope you can glean out some useful information from this.


Vikeologist 08-02-2006 03:14 PM

yes, thanks for the great insulation tips...i will probably remove all of the newspapers. Do i have to put anything underneath the sheets of insulation i shove in between the joists? or just shove it down right to the sheetrock ceiling?

I live in Minnesota so it gets very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, so how thick should i put the sheets of insulation? Then also how thick do i blow it in over the top of that?

Also what about electrical items? Such as lights and stuff? Do i keep the insulation away from those or go right over them?

Ok so with soffit vents i should be ok with just the 2 gable vents on each end of the house?

Square Eye 08-02-2006 04:38 PM

Put the paper side of the insulation on the bottom against the drywall.
Owens Corning calls it Kraft Faced, that's the vapor barrier. It has a tar-like coating that seals it and adheres it to the fiberglass.

R-19 minumum, that's 5 1/2 inches of Fiberglass.
R-30 is better @ 7 1/2"

The blow-in will have a chart on the bag that shows depth required for different R values, and how much you'll need for the sqft. of coverage.

Recessed lighting is the worst to deal with. Most other electrical fixtures are fine to cover. Make sure your light bulbs are all within the manufacturer's maximum watts. There are two different types of recessed lighting, IC and non-IC. IC is basically saying insulation coverage, and non-IC is do not cover.
IC fixtures have thermal limit switching that will shut the power off to the bulb when the heat gets too high. Non-IC fixtures have no safety built in and will stay on until you turn it off. The heat build up from a halogen or a multiple tube flourescent fixture is pretty high. Watch your neighbor's house on a frosty morning, if they have recessed fixtures on, the frost on the roof will clear out over them quickly. You will have to stay clear of non-IC fixtures by a couple of inches. I have turned a 5 gallon bucket over on top of them to keep from burying them.Remove the bucket after you're done and clear away the insulation that falls in against the fixture. On an IC fixture, I usually stack fiberglass around them, then blow the rest. That way, you can just pull the fiberglass off if you ever have to service or replace them. I also trust fiberglass more than blow-in for resistance to fire. That may just be in my head, but I live by it.

In Minnesota, I think you'll be OK with the gable vents. With the snow and ice you guys get, I'd rather not penetrate a roof anywhere. Vents help your cooling bill more than they help heating. You will probably be fine with the gable vents.

Good golly!

Did I leave anything out?:)

manhattan42 08-02-2006 05:22 PM

Call your local code enforcement office for help.

R-30 isn't even close to ceiling insulation requirements for Minnesota.

Minimum ceiling insulation for Minnesota is R-49, or 14+ inches....

Here's a helpful Minnesota energy code link:

asbestos 08-02-2006 10:23 PM

I blew in cellulose (Cocoon brand) insulation got free use of the blower when you got a number of bags.
Dust-big time
Itch -no way
the idea of blowing billions of tiny threads of glass through the air just freaks me out. The heath risks don't seem worth it IMO.
With either one I would want a p100 half face mask as a minumum.

Bobby_M 09-29-2009 12:47 PM

It's likely your joists are 16" on center so use the rolls that are 15" wide. The R-value you use should be limited to the height of your joists. You probably have 2x8 or 2x10 joists so that would be R30. After you have that installed, if you want to do it right, you'll put unfaced 24" wide batts of R19 or R30 on top of that, but perpendicular to the joists. Certainly the first layer of R30 is way better than what you have now, but it's really not enough for Northern climates.

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