A Sea of Pink Fluff

We called a little bit of an audible when we decided to insulate our attic yesterday. It wasn't completely random, but we did do it a lot sooner than I think either of us had anticipated. Living in an older house our attic has no insulation and it is a huge, cavernous space, so we loose a lot of heat up there. We had always intended to insulate at some point when all the room's ceilings we needed to drywall would be done and the electrical was done as well. That point came when we finished the drywall in the bathroom. Though the electrical in the house isn't completely done (Chris has rewired about 90% of it himself, a small part was done before we moved in) we are about 98% there (one more outlet in the hallway). So Chris asked last week what I thought about insulating the day after Christmas, and I thought, sure, why not? It was definitely something we wanted to do before Cashew arrives, so better now than when I'm big and Cashew's arrival is imminent.

There was a little debate about what kind of insulation we should go with. I wanted to go with the pink rolls and Chris wanted to go with the AttiCat rental at HD that was free if you bought 10 bags of their loosefill insulation. I knew the rolls would be 1) more expensive and 2) take a while to lay out and cut around everything, but for some reason in my head I just figured that machine would cause a huge headache, not work, and cause me to throw it out the window in a pregnancy rage. Chris won.

So yesterday morning we resolved to get started a little earlier than normal and head off to HD. Of course, what we get for starting early is car trouble: a flat tire and a fucked up rim on the way. Grrrr. Luckily it happened 3 blocks away from a tire place and it was miraculously not raining so we were able to change to a spare and cruise it down to the tire place and wait patiently while the guys there changed the tire and temporarily fixed the rim (we bought a "new" used one later in the afternoon). We finally made it to HD ready to rent the machine but were thwarted again not realizing that to rent their truck we needed proof of insurance. Duh! (the machine and 15 bags of insulation would not fit in Chris' truck). For some idiotic reason I didn't have my wallet with me (so no driver's license and credit card, but my proof of insurance was in my car and we had switched to taking my car after Chris' car trouble) and Chris had his wallet, but his proof of insurance wasn't in it. God damnit. So we had everything ready to go, but had to drive back home and get insurance. Sigh.

When we finally arrived at HD with no car trouble and the correct documents to rent the machine and truck, we were able to rent what we needed. I got to drive the truck which felt very strange because the car I drive about 95% of the time is about 1/4 of the size

Once we got everything home I unloaded the insulation while Chris got the machine hooked up

Once everything was off the truck and ready to go I drove it back to HD while Chris stayed home to get started. We had left my car in the parking lot there so when I returned the truck Chris could stay at home in an effort to save some of the time we had wasted with our earlier adventures.

When I got home Chris had figured out how everything worked but hadn't made much progress because you can only load 1/2 a bag of insulation at a time (and really not even that), turn the machine on and then run upstairs to blow out insulation and then have to stop when the insulation ran out and go back down and repeat. A process not fun with one person. 

To get started he showed me 1) cut the bag in half

2) break it in half

and 3) shove it in the machine

Those were the tasks I would be doing downstairs while Chris operated the machine up in the attic (and of course we both wore masks, this stuff is not good to be breathing in). The one kicker was that the machine had to be turned on and off at the physical machine (where I was) but sometimes Chris would not want it on so that he could move around and get to the next spot in the attic without spraying the insulation EVERYWHERE and the machine was so loud there was no way we could hear each other yell to turn it on and off. We devised a pretty good plan: we turned on the TV and put it on really loud. Chris took the TiVo remote upstairs (it can be used without pointing at the receiver) and had it on pause when he wanted the machine to be on. As soon as he wanted the machine to be off he would press play and I would hear the TV come on and turn the machine off. Then he'd shift around to the next spot and press pause and I'd put the machine on again (while prepping the next bats and shoving the insulation in the machine making sure there was always adequate insulation mixing around as Chris was blowing it around upstairs). We had it going the opposite at first (TV on when machine on, TV off when machine off), but still with the volume turned all the way up I had trouble distinguishing between a lull in conversation and the TV actually silent so it always took me a little too long to figure out that I needed to turn the machine off. This method actually worked really well and we were able to motor through a lot faster than I thought.

It was messy

But it got the job done

We had calculated that we would probably need 12 bags, but bought 15 just to be safe. We probably should have communicated a little better about progress towards the end because I tried to slow down prepping the bags (cutting them in 2) as I felt we were near the end so that we could return the unused ones, but Chris came down when I had 3 more 1/2 bags ready to go and said we were done. Doh! It wasn't terrible though, we just used the remaining 3 1/2 bags that I had already split and just blew it in thicker in spots. In the end, we used 12, but we could have done with 11. Not too bad. And we returned the other 3 we didn't use that I hadn't cut through already. It was a lot more efficient than I thought. And once I figured out how the machine worked and about how much insulation I should put in at a time it was really very easy. I admitted to Chris that the rental of this machine was the right way to go instead of the rolls. I hate being wrong. Damnit! 

Once the job was done we had lots of pink fluff that had traveled around the house that needed to be cleaned up

But it ended up being a lot less messy than I thought. We swept up the big pieces and then vacuumed the rest. And of course, we scratched our floors again because the shitty ass poly the stupid floor refinishers used is terrible. We have dragged a stove across the floors we refinished ourselves and have yet to mar their surface. The rest of the floors on the other hand, I swear your toenail could scratch through the poly. Sigh. 

In the end, the whole project (purchase of 12 bags of insulation, free rental of machine and 1 hour rental of truck) cost us just over $400. We're hoping that it makes a difference in the efficiency of our house. I can't imagine it won't make at least a tiny one considering how huge the attic is. But only time will tell. Until then, our attic looks like a pink fluff wonderland


Heather said...

Using the TiVo remote? Fucking genius.

Katy said...

I was just going to say the same thing as Heather! You guys are brilliant, lol!

Bunny @ 86n It said...

Tivo remote = awesome

Was the attic completely un-insulated before? That was the worst part of our re-insulation. The old stuff was DISGUSTING, full of coal ash & bird poop. Nice.

We did rolls though.

Jessica said...

We want to put more insulation in our attic (we have some, but could use more) but I've heard that the machine is a PITA to move around and very heavy. We have a half flight of steps directly inside our front door to get to the main part of the house and I figured it would be difficult to get it up those. Did you guys have any issues with that?

meryl rose said...

Chris is making sure that I give him credit for the TiVo remote idea. Though it was MY idea to change when to press pause and that made the method work better ;)

Nikki-we were really lucky that there wasn't any existing insulation up there we had to clean up/vomit over. I remember reading when you guys did that and thought it was probably not the most fun job.

Jessica-ours came with 100 feet of hose, so I'm not sure you'd have to carry it up that 1/2 flight. If you did though, it's not terrible to move around. It is a bit heavy, but it can break down into two pieces (at least ours did) which made it much less cumbersome.

aptpupil said...

i was pretty proud of myself for the remote idea. if you don't have a tivo you could also buy a wireless remote switch and hook a light up to it.
our attic cat machine had a remote on it, but it was a line of sight remote so it was worthless.

Janelle @ Two Cups Of Happy said...

Such a good idea with the remote thing! Haha.

meryl rose said...

Thanks Janelle! :) You gotta be industrious :)