Insulation and air sealing is the key to energy savings in a home. A home that is poorly insulated and sealed has substantially higher operating costs than homes that are properly insulated and air sealed. The problem is that your house is already built and has been for quite some time. So how do you insulate it? Below is the step-by-step process to properly insulate your home. But first, let us go through what you will need.
The best material to use for sidewall and attic insulation is cellulose. This material is made of ground up newspaper, with an additive of boric acid to act as a pesticide, fungicide, and a fire retardant. The material is the insulator and has a slightly better R-value than fiberglass, but has great air sealing abilities because it packs into every nook and cranny. Cellulose comes in cubes of 25 to 40 sq ft coverage at R-19. If your house is older than 30 years, chances are you have 2×4 walls rather than 2×6 walls. So the maximum R-value you are going to get is R-14, still very good for 2×4 walls.
This is the perfect time to get your walls insulated and if the value is R-14, then simply go for it without a second thought as most people waste their time in making it affordable for oneself even though they jump at the offer of installing a blaux portable ac during summers.
Go to your local builder supply store (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, True Value, etc.) with a truck and a trailer. Rent a blower from them and bring with you the square footage of your sidewalls. They will help you determine how much you need. The blower is called a Force I or II machine. You will get 100′ f of 2″ hose, which should be enough for the job you are doing. You will also be given a clear plastic hose that is about 1″ wide. This is your dense pack hose. By the way, the blower is free with the purchase of the material.
You will need a heavy duty drill with a 1 1/8″ forsner bit, a hammer, 1 1/8″ wood plugs, a siding removal tool, an extension ladder, a step ladder, a utility knife, a few rolls of duck tape, and a helper.
Now it is time to prep for the insulation project. Here are your instructions for this:
Remove a length of siding all the way around your house about 4′ up from the bottom. For vinyl, steel, or aluminum, take your siding tool and slide it under the lip on the bottom of the siding. Now take it and slid it along as you pull out to release the piece from the other piece. You should be able to push the siding up enough to drill your holes . If you have wood or slate siding, remove the siding by taking a flat bar gently prying behind the piece of siding above the one you want to remove to make the nails pop out from the surface a bit. Then use pliers to remove the nails. The siding will slip right out. In any case, be careful not to damage your siding.
Once the siding is removed or loose, drill 1 1/8″ holes in every cavity. Hole onto the drill with too hands as your helper holds the siding up. If the drill catches, let go or it can hurt you badly. If you have trouble figuring out where the stud are, use metal coat hanger and untwist it. Stick it in the hole until it hits the next stud over. Then use this distance over and over again on that wall. Repeat for all the walls.
To get above window, you will have to remove or loosen a piece of siding in those areas. This process will take a few hours.
Keeping the machine on your truck or trailer, Position the machine so it will reach most of the house without moving it. Plug the machine into an outlet. Take the 2″ hose and uncoil it, taking it out as far as it will go in a straight line. Do the same with the remote that comes with it. Secure the 2″ hose with duck tape to the machine. Also secure the dense pack hose to the 2″ hose. Do not be shy. You don’t want one of these to bust and have cellulose everywhere.
Cut the plastic off of one of the bundles of cellulose and put the cellulose in the blowing machine’s hopper. CAUTION: DO NOT STICK YOUR HANDS IN THE HOPPER OR YOU WILL LOSE THEM!!! Turn on the hopper to chop up the cellulose and adjust the plate at the bottom that lets a specific amount come through the hose. Set this plate at around 7 so you don’t clog the line.
Now stick the dense pack tube hole going up. The hose is about 10-12′ long so push it in as far as it will go. Then turn the blower on. You will hear the material filling the cavity. When it starts to slow down, pull the hose out little by little and then turn the blower off. Continue to slowly pull the hose until you have pulled it all the way out. Then stick it down about a foot, turn the blower on again for about 5 seconds and turn it off. Again slowly pull out. This ensures the cavity is filled. It takes about 15 to 30 seconds to fill a cavity.
Now take a 1 1/8″ wood plug and hammer it into the hole. The plug should be tight in the hole.
Repeat this process for the whole house.
Re-install the siding. You put the vinyl, aluminum, or steel back on the way you took it off. Get the corner hooked and just push it on. For wood and slate, use the existing nail holes and nail back into place. Use a nail set to pound the nails flush or slightly countersunk into the siding.
You will have minor cleanup if everything went well. Take the machine and any extra material you have left and take it back to the store for your security deposit and a refund. You can now enjoy an much more energy efficient home.