Introduction: Insulating an Attic

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This is a simple, cheap way to insulate your attic.

Step 1: Do You Need It?

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Disclamer: I am not responsible for any damage of your personal property, injury, cuts, scratches, or anything else. This involves going in your attic, if you do not feel comfortable doing this project ask a friend, or hire a professional. I am not responsible for your actions.


You're probably reading this because you need to insulate your attic, or would like to add some insulation to your attic. Either way this is a simple cheap way to take care of the problem.

I needed to insulate my attic after moving into a new house that had no insulation whatsoever. I decided to look in the attic because I had the hardest time keeping my house warm. My house was built in the 30's when houses were built without insulation.

I went to the home improvement store and looked at the insulation and decided on blow in insulation because it is recycled, doesn't itch, and is simple to work with. They only had one blower there and someone had it, and I did not want to rent it anyway, nor did I have a way to get it to my house (I drive a Honda Accord).

Step 2: Gather Materials

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Depending on the size of your attic, and desired thickness of insulation you may need to by 50 bags or 5 bags. Remember...the thicker the insulation, the higher the R-Value, and the easier it is to heat/cool your house.

I recommend using an electric leaf blower due to the enclosed area and start-ups and shut-downs, but mostly for overall safety.

I also do not recommend doing this alone, get a buddy or family up there in case you pass out or need some help.

You will need:
Leaf blower
Dust mask(s)
Extension cords
Attic lights/flash lights/drop light

It took me about 18 bags of insulation and cost about $150

Step 3: Prepare the Blower

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You can't just grab a leaf blower and use it as is, unless its missing the vent guard.

The leaf blower will need to be the mulching type (most are).

To remove the vent guard on the leaf blower I used, I simply had to remove four screws and was able to remove the guard without disassembling the whole blower.

Yours may be different, or may even just snap off.

Once the guard is off you're good to go.

Step 4: Enter the Attic With Tools Needed

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My garage door tracks were mounted to part of the entrance making the attic entrance much, much smaller...but I fact the hole was slightly smaller then the bag of insulation.

Step 5: Open Bag of Insluation and Dump It Out

Picture of Open Bag of Insluation and Dump It Out
Make sure you are wearing your mask!

Open a bag of insulation with a knife or tear it open. Make sure that you set it somewhere that will support it.

Begin insulating. Just point the end of the blower where you want insulation to go, and cram the inlet into the insulation and watch it fly! Cover all areas of your house as thick or thin as you'd like.

Step 6: That's It!

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Once you've insulated to your satisfaction you're done!

Enjoy your now more-energy-efficient-home! Keep the heat in and the cold out.


lovetokeepmoving (author)2014-11-05

If you want the new insulation to work you need to cover all the ceiling joist and the cross support members with a minimum of 3inches of blown insulation. if you don't encapsulate the wood the heat will pass through anywhere it shows through.

wmlaveck (author)2013-04-06

I need to insulate the attic above my garage and am thinking of using bat or roll insulation that have a vapor barrier. I also have an older home (50 yrs). I thought that a vapor barrier was to keep moisture in the house.

Farmer-Al (author)2011-11-04

There is no danger of dust and the motor sparking is there?

rcarroll5 (author)Farmer-Al2011-11-14

if u are using cellulose there is no danger of a fire. it is fire retardant and it has boric acid in it to keep animals from livin in ur attic.and its made from recycled paper. it is harmless to humans after it is bolwn in. u will need a dust mask with a rating of n95 or higher trust me i do this for a living. it doesnt taste very good!! you need to apply 8 to 10 inches to get your r38 insulation value. good luck

Peeet (author)2011-11-03

Dust for ever after can be a huge problem all through the house with this insulation. I have the problem in my house.

These days this stuff is installed with a sealing coat over the top, but this doesn't stop insulation from the bottom or sides of the reservoir of fluff finding its way out of the roof space.

Tombrittainmover (author)2008-03-09

Cool that you make your own insulation blower, but you know that many places that sell insulation ( Home Depot, Menards Lowes etc.) let you use for free a- For- real insulation blower! Just thought you'd like to know. Its fast and easy.

Yeah, but I didn't have a way to get it home because I drive a car, and there is a $400 deposit for it that I did not have at the time. But thanks!

jeffeb3 (author)duncant201962011-10-31

The home depot and lowes closest to my house both have a truck you can rent for $20 for 75 minutes. So far, I've used it several times and they've always let me use it for free if I'm using it to buy something from them.

ellislake (author)2009-09-20

the simplest and cheapest insualtion is plastic bags. im gona get round to do my instrcutable on cheapest insualtion ever. all you need to do is collect plastic bags rather than throwing them away and scrunch them up a little and put them between the joists then put a flat piece of plywood over them as a floor. that way theres no issue with weight and the bagsd are free and not going to waste on a dumping ground this owrks by trapping air inside the bags and insulates the loft. its simple i have done it in my loft but only about 10% completed so far.i think i will ahve to do the instructable soon as i got some free time coming up soon what does everyone think

vloar (author)ellislake2011-10-11

II dont want to be a wet blanket but f there was A fire it would seem that the fumes from the plastic could kill you?

bwpatton1 (author)2009-07-07

We insulated our attic with this recently and it really has helped, we did it with the professional blower though, it was much easier, and once we figured it out, the work went fast!!

travisbaucom (author)2009-02-06

To go one step further in efficiency, you can install radiant barrier foil on top of the insulation or on the rafters of this attic. This will lower your carbon footprint even more. This website has some cool DIY instructions

bwpatton1 (author)travisbaucom2009-07-07

This REALLY WORKS, in our barn outside we installed this and you can feel the diffrence between the open spaces between rafters with and without, MAJOR diffrence, and it will save you in the long run.....

Pal (author)2009-05-20

Just be careful with this method, as the soffit vents need to remain clear for proper ventilation. You can install plastic or cardboard ducts that extend up the roof a bit which are normally used anyways, but high powered blowing will likely clog those vents too. If you blow the material perpendicular you should minimize this, but extra care should be taken.

icerabbit (author)2009-04-23

Could be handy one day for a small insulation job. Transporting the official hopper is difficult and would also be costly if you have to rent transportation. If you are in a particularly cold or hot climate I would certainly double up on the amount of insulation installed. I have 10 to 12 inches of this stuff in the attic.

thisdude (author)2009-04-18

looks cool but dangerous... if you were going to do more of these i would suggest building a hopper for the blower

burntbob (author)2009-02-16

Great way to get it into all the nooks and crannies without stepping somewhere you shouldn't and going through the ceiling!

cftbry (author)2009-01-02

OK I like the idea....but...I don't have an attic...I've heard of a paint that has inslative and reflective properties...but I don't know the name and can't find out any other info...anybody know what to do when you don't have an attic?

Dragon416 (author)cftbry2009-01-21

I think what you are referring to is known as Kool-Seal Elastomeric Paint. It can be found at Lowe's.

davidglover (author)2008-12-13

Total Ghetto, I love it. Just bought my DAD the heaviest duty electric mulching leaf blower, I think though I will probably use the one from the home store. I do think I may use the leaf blower to blow air up though the softit vent to dislodge any insulation that might accidentally drop and block.

drhealthnutty (author)2008-10-29

I get a ton of packing peanuts, any one ever used those in insulating?

see spot run (author)2008-06-19

When using blow-in insulation be careful around old knob and tube wiring and the housing for any ceiling mounted recessed lighting. this electrical stuff generates heat that is supposed to dissipate. could cause fires if something gets too hot.

SlothOnSpeed (author)2007-12-18

Please tell me you wore goggles or other eye protection. The thought of a hunk of treated newspaper hitting your eye at whatever velocity makes me cringe. Asthma isn't the only danger while doing this.

shortbus (author)2007-12-18

Awesome. Thanks.

frazeeg (author)2007-12-17

I'd suggest making your insulation cover the tops of your ceiling joists - you get even better insulation that way. With the bare wood you have those narrow paths of area with less insulative value than the surrounding blown insulation and covering the bare joists makes it harder to lose heat/cold that way.

incorrigible packrat (author)2007-12-17

At last! An actual use for a leaf blower (at least the electric ones). Mind you, I wouldn't lose much sleep if the owners of annoying gasoline powered leaf blowers would use them to undertake this project. Although many such people appear to already have been in a confined space with a two stroke engine for a good long while. You can observe them patrolling their lawn or sidewalk (usually about 7 A.M.) disturbing clouds of dust and leaves, that settle into place right behind them. Then they repeat the process.

dxf224 (author)2007-12-16

Uh oh .......I hope you used a vapour barrier ...

Austringer (author)dxf2242007-12-17

On an old house a vapor barrier is not as important because, to quote the Fine Homebuilding people, "They leak like sieves." Mold wasn't so much of a problem prior to the energy crunch of the 70's when they tried to make houses air tight and ended up trapping all the moisture that people generate - cooking, bathing, breathing, etc. Just don't cover over your eaves vents. They have an Insulate and Weatherize book that I wholeheartedly recommend.

MrTrick (author)2007-12-16

Nifty idea! From your first picture, I thought you'd insulated with kitty litter. :-D

GorillazMiko (author)2007-12-16

wow, that is A LOT OF DUST!!!

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