Tips on getting an attic insulation quote?

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Flyover

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In a few days we're having someone out to give us an estimate on insulating our attic. We currently have some crumbly stuff you can scoop up from between the joists, and it's sparse and isn't working all that well. The kids' rooms are colder than the rest of the house, and presumably leaking and costing us a lot of money.

1) What should I be asking the insulation installers to do, exactly? This is actually a bunch of related questions rolled into one.
a) Will they try to sell me on one thing when I should be insistent on something else?
b) Will they try to charge me for removing the existing insulation, or is that something I want them to do?
c) The pink fiberglass stuff you roll out in sheets seems to me like it would insulate better and last longer than the stuff you blow in through a hose, but what do I know. Maybe one is way more expensive than the other, to the point where the expensive one just isn't worth it?
d) I think we might have mice in our attic. Is there a type of insulation that mice cannot eat, or that might even help mitigate the mouse problem?
e) I'm sure any kind of insulation is available from different brands, but how do I tell which brands are good, which are shoddy, and which are overpriced?
f) What method of measuring R-value should I be looking for?
g) What should I consider a minimum acceptable R value (I live in central Oh Hah), and what should I consider overkill?

2) What should I look for in a reliable, trustworthy installer? Anything particular I can look for or ask when the representative comes to give the quote? (Beyond the normal "do they show up on time and not smell like pot" type stuff.)

3) I have a single story ranch with about 1600 feet of attic space needing insulation. I basically never need to access my attic and it isn't really made to be accessed anyway. What insulation cost estimates should I consider suspiciously low or unreasonably high?

My wife has been the sole point of contact with them so far and she accidentally called it "roofing" rather than insulation, and she accidentally called our attic the crawl space, so I'm worried they're going to try and rip us off because they've sensed my wife has no clue what she's talking about (in most other cases they'd be wrong but in this one they'd be right). So I want to make sure a clueless i.e. vulnerable customer isn't what they actually encounter.
 
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Steve123

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You need to determine how much insulation you want --- otherwise you end up with 4 quotes for 4 different projects.
You really didn't provide enough information on your situation so I can't really comment on what you need.
Would be best to air seal any ceiling gaps (stacks, ducts, etc) before adding more insulation.
I have no idea where Oh Hah is, but see link to recommended level of insulation https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_insulation_table
An insulation contractor is not an exterminator. You want the contractor to clean up the mice's toilet? -- if they rip out existing insulation they will charge you for it. Mice solution is to not have openings to your attic.
You should only be concerned with R-value, not what the insulation is made from. Blown in fiberglass is commonly the least expensive, so likely that is what each will quote. How much extra would you be willing to spend for rockwool batts with the same insulation value ?
Most types of roofs require proper ventilation. Likely you have soffit vents and upper vents (ridge, box, other). Insulation contractor should be putting in soffit baffles to keep the new insultion from blocking airflow. But that is pretty standard.
If access to attic is poor, that will certainly effect price, but if insulation is all they do, they should have an answer.
 

Flyover

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Thanks for the great information, @Steve123. That gives me a good start.

"Oh Hah" is my funny way of writing Ohio, because it's how most people here pronounce the name of the state.
 

nealtw

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You may be better to get an energy audit. They look at the whole house and tell you where best to spend money and what needs to be done. In some states it is subsidized and may not cost anything.
 

Flyover

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@nealtw We had one done a couple years ago. Their main recommendation was better insulation in the attic.
 

nealtw

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@nealtw We had one done a couple years ago. Their main recommendation was better insulation in the attic.
That makes sense but the other details are important, and who did it. Did they do a leak test on the house.
Air sealing should be mentioned as good, really good or needs work. Vents should be talked about and air chutes should be mentioned as in place or how many are in place

He does insulate the foundation but when you do that the crawlspace becomes part of the house and needs to be conditioned. Kind of defeats all is other work.
 

Flyover

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Gotcha. No, they didn't do a pressure test. The main things I remember was he went up and checked out the attic, went down into the crawlspace, and went room to room with an IR camera.

We had it done for free, from a promotion the power company was doing. It was done by whatever company they'd contracted with, I can't remember which. As part of the promotion you also got a box of LED bulbs, a "smart" power strip, and a few other odds and ends. There was a voucher for like $400 off the insulation service if you got it done within 6 months, which we obviously didn't.
 

nealtw

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So mostly they were promoting the sale of insulation.
If you have air leaks to the attic and insufficient venting that has been working, doesn't mean it will work when adding more insulation and some times can cause trouble. So the whole system has to be looked at.
 

bud16415

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Just wondering???? Have you thought about DIY?


The machines can be rented that blows the insulation up and it is a two person job. One dropping the contents in and one on the hose spraying it in place.


On a DIY scale its not a high skill task and the savings are pretty good.
 

Flyover

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I hadn't considered DIY with the blown insulation; if I was gonna DIY I'd do the pink rolls.
 

raymond-

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I just insulated mom's attic space using pink roll. Easy to do right now as temperatures are cool right now
in Seattle. Just be sure you assemble your safety gear to make it a quick and relatively easy experience.
Watch YT videos for techniques. (This was my first attempt with such a project but found it easy in the
unfinished attic space. only the centerline of the hip roof design allowed me to stand straight)
 

Flyover

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OK, I'm definitely doing DIY for this, because today a neighbor's fence just fell onto ours and the cost of the new fence (something I can't/don't want to do myself) will eat into having people out to do the insulation.

The catch is, I need to install roof hoods for our bathroom exhaust vents, which currently just exhaust into the attic. (Near the side vent, but still.) So this is gonna be a three-for-one!
 

raymond-

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Flyover,
I don't know the details but might your neighbor's homeowner's insurance cover
some or all of the cost of your fence replacement ?
 

Flyover

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We had our own fence blow over earlier this year and what I learned was, if the cost to fix is anywhere near or below $1K, it's not worth the effect of an insurance claim on our premiums. This fence that recently got knocked into is about in that ballpark. Plus I went out there today and the damage is pretty minor; it's more just one of those "Well, might as well do this now" things.

Question for y'all: what R-value do insulated ducts need to have if they're going from a bathroom ceiling exhaust to a roof vent? I'm seeing 4 and 8 at my local hardware megastore. Remember, I'm in Oh Hah.
 

Jeff Handy

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Skipping through most lengthy posts above.

If you have insulation blown in, make sure they don’t fill up your soffits with insulation.

That would stop the soffit vents from letting cooler or dryer air in, to push hotter or moister air up and out at the roof vents.

It is common for idiots to spray away, and not keep the soffit space open to free air.

If you can’t see daylight looking down through them while in the attic, they are plugged up.
Or it is nighttime, haha!

The insulation installers can create dams with stacks of rolled fiberglass near the soffits, to keep sprayed fibers from filling the soffits.

There are other methods also.
 

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