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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Misinformation Followed Us Like a Plague

Well, I can see from the comments that my loopy descriptions of my home-brew insulation contraption have some people confused. I love confusing people. I’m on the internet. Confusion is about the only product on the web worth mentioning, coming in a close second to straight-up lies. I stick to confusion because I’m a terrible liar. Why I remember back when they tried to give me a Nobel Prize for Literature. I told them, I can’t lie, I have to turn it down because the medal will just clank against that Legion of Honour doodad the French gave me for a little dustup I got them out of in North Africa. True story.

Anyway, someone already hired someone else to bore holes in the outside of my house and blast loose insulation into the exterior wall cavities. I’m not doing any of that. That’s accomplished with a very big blower, which I don’t have or want. You have to bore a hole at both the top and bottom of each stud bay to get a good result, too. My house has enough holes in it without making more, thank you.

My apparatus is handier to make my way around my house on the interior and get everything they missed, which was a lot. There was no insulation in the carhole walls and ceiling, or the basement ceiling (the floor of the first floor of our house). There are dozens of opportunities to add insulation in my old barn. They’re all over the place, which is kind of the problem here.

You see, everyone involved treats everything as one big job. If you buy X-number of bales of insulation, the Orange Place will give you a free one-day rental of a blower. It won’t be there when you show up, and if it is, it will be broken, and if it’s not, it won’t work very well anyway, and it will due back one hour after you get it running, and you live an hour-and-a-half away, and the place closed 15 minutes ago.

Look at my ghetto rig again:

It’s just a box and a barrel and a hose. I can bring it anywhere in the house and use it. If you set it up anywhere near where the work is, the fifty foot hose reaches everything. When I’m not using it, I coil the hose inside the barrel and slip the plastic wands and the mixer into the center of the coil and it sleeps contentedly in the basement until I find a few spare minutes and a few errant shekels to insulate something.

So, how does it work, you’re asking? It’s simple, I’m telling you. You just need these two things to get going:

The insulation fabric is interesting. You can sorta see through it, but it’s pretty tough stuff. It doesn’t tear easily, so the staples hold it in place firmly. It’s not a vapor barrier, which is good. Insulation advice gets really weird on the topic of vapor barriers, In general, no permutation of them works very well, and if it does, it causes moisture problems somewhere you didn’t expect.

You’re not going to come out of this insulation battle alive without some help on the staple front. A regular hammer tacker would wear you out in no time, and using a lever operated staple gun would probably kill you. Well, the blisters on your hand would drive you to take your own life after an hour or so, which is much the same thing.

It’s hard to find anything online that shows the way the fabric gets installed. Anything that’s to the point, I mean. These fellows give it a go. We’ll start at the 5:49 mark, to skip the opening ceremonies:


He’s using a pneumatic stapler. He apparently owns stock in a big staple conglomerate, and it trying to pump up the stock price, I assume. I’ve found that you don’t really need that many fasteners to get a good seal going. And I’m not interested in dragging another hose around.

It’s even harder to find video of someone blowing in cellulose like I’m doing. Here’s the venerable Bob Vila presiding over a fiberglass version of the same sort of process I’m using for cellulose. Once again, I skipped the almost four minutes of opening folderol to get to the process itself:


Note that you cut X-shaped openings in the fabric, slightly larger than the hose. You’d think muscling the hose, and in our case, a hard plastic wand, through the hole in the fabric would tear it, but it doesn’t. We filled all the wall cavities in our carhole basement just like this fellow was doing. First, you push it down into the bottom of the bay, fill it up, and then reverse the direction of the wand and fill up the top half. We have to go slower than the last video shows because the leaf blower is powerful, but nowhere near what their pro blower puts out.

Here’s our carhole ceiling, with the insulation blown in. There are no holes visible, because I staple strips of leftover fabric over the holes to keep them from raining a little cellulose down if someone decides to rumba on the floor upstairs.

We did an experiment to see if this stuff was really dense-packed. We peeled back a section of wall, and pulled out some of the lower part, and the insulation above didn’t budge. We tried it again in a ceiling. If you remove the fabric, the insulation stays put. If you run your hand over the surface while you’re filling up the bays, you can feel it when it’s full. It feels like a very firm mattress if you do it right. The blower makes a different sound when it’s full, too. You learn pretty quick when to back off a little and fill somewhere else.

You have to box out around various obstacles, like this DWV cleanout, but it’s not hard. That pipe in the next picture is tied into our former Geyser of Excrement, by the way, and serves the kitchen and a bathroom upstairs.

As you can observe, we nailed strapping onto the joists and then drywalled the ceiling after it’s insulated. The walls get covered with OSB. The place is starting to look borderline orderly. You have to work around stuff in a basement, though, and the spiders are really angry about the whole affair.

These insulated pipes carry refrigerant to and fro to the heat pump. We removed the hangers gingerly, slipped the fabric behind them, and then put the hangers back up. That section of the ceiling isn’t filled with insulation yet. I’ll try to enlist some help and grab some video of us filling the joist bays when we do it.

[Thanks for reading and commenting at Sippican Cottage]

3 Responses

  1. Ah, my apologies, I thought you were going to insulate the exterior walls (hence drilling large-diameter holes, etc.).

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