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A Sea of Pink Fluff: Insulating the Attic

By Picardy Project on Dec 27, 2012

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, once 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, 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. 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, which 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, 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 messed up rim on the way. Grrrr.

Luckily it happened three 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

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

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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 that, 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 half a bag of insulation at a time (and really not even that), turn the machine on, run upstairs to blow out insulation, then stop when insulation runs 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

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2) Break it in half

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3) Shove it in the machine

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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).

We had it going the opposite way 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 being 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

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