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waimeamike 07-30-2009 01:56 AM

Attic insulation worth it???
I have a 1977 house...drywall with no insulation. It gets pretty chilly in here especially when windy. The walls are not insulated and it seems it would be quite a hassle to demo and replace just to add insulation in the exterior walls.

A friend recommended just doing ceiling insulation and that would help a lot. Anyone have experience with this? Will adding insulation in the attic REALLY help or will I be wasting money and time?

Thanks in advance.

travelover 07-30-2009 06:02 AM

I'd start with ceiling insulation and plugging all the air leaks (Google this to learn how) . The insulation will also keep your house cooler when it is too hot outside. In your climate, you will never justify wall insulation.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-30-2009 11:56 PM


You can insulate your walls without tearing them apart.

There is a foam insulation that has always been popular in Europe, but got a black eye when they tried to market it in North America. Basically, they drill a hole in your exterior wall and pump in a foam that expands and fills the cavity between the wall studs. Once the foam fills the cavity and stops expanding, it releases formaldehyde gas for several days as it solidifies and cures. It's a highly effective product both to stop drafts and to provide a very R value in terms of insulation.

But it got a bad rap when there was a scare back in the 70's about people getting sick from the stuff. There were all kinds of claims made that the formaldehyde continued to be released from the foam for years, and that this was making people dizzy, confused, lethargic and unable to work, it supposedly gave people headaches, made them cough, sneeze, puke, have insomnia, etc., you name it, someone claimed it.

But, when they launched a class action law suit to sue the manufacturer of the stuff along with the Government of Canada for encouraging people to insulate their houses with it, they couldn't find any houses that had significant levels of formaldehyde in the indoor air. In fact they found that houses with a new carpets had higher levels of formaldehyde in their indoor air than houses with UFFI foam in their walls. So, the law suit fizzled out, but UFFI foam has never made a "come back" in North America because people associate the name with "sick house" syndrome.

It's called "urea formaldehyde foam insulation", or "UFFI" for short, and in Europe it's considered one of the best ways to insulate a house. In Europe, there were never any claims made of people getting sick from it, and so it's never come under attack there like it did in North America.

Maybe Google UFFI and you can read about the history of the stuff in Europe and North America and decide for yourself if it warrants further investigation. You might find someone selling an "DIY UFFI insulation kit" in Europe.

waimeamike 07-31-2009 01:30 AM

Thanks so much for the replies. I am considering a wall insulation but need to do my research. Really appreciate the advice and will google your suggestion.

Moreover, one would assume that Hawaii is 90 degrees and sunny most of the time. This is a correct assumption given you live on the water. However, I live in Waimea on the Big Island, our summers are between mid 50's (at night, at times) and low 70's during the day. Our winters range from 30's to 60's. So, given that info. Would you still say ceiling insulation is sufficient or would you recommend more.

Very grateful for your advice.

travelover 07-31-2009 01:53 PM

It is all about bang for the buck. Ceiling insulation and stopping air infiltration are the two areas that pay back fastest. You can have a "Manual J" heat flow calculation done that will show you where your energy is being wasted and will allow you to calculate payback time for any given improvement.

You can do this yourself with software sold on the internet, pay someone to do this for you, or your local utility may have a program where they subsidize the cost of this calculation as part of an energy use audit. A good inspector will do a leakage test by connecting a fan to your house and actually measuring the air leak rate.

Hint: ceiling insulation, stop air infiltration

waimeamike 07-31-2009 07:39 PM

Thanks so much. I will heed your advice.

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