“What is “Blown-In” Insulation, and Why Should I Use it in My Home?

The attic is one of the most important areas to insulate. It serves as a barrier between your roof and the home's interior and protects against outdoor weather and extreme temperatures throughout the year. In addition, having the correct type of insulation can help regulate heating and cooling and save you money on your energy bill. If your home was built before 1990, there's a good chance you don't have enough attic insulation. Upgrading your insulation is vital as insufficient attic insulation can cause extreme attic temperatures. In the summer, the heat travels down into the walls and ceiling in your home, making your rooms inconsistent in temperature. During the winter months, the cold temperatures drive up heating costs and make your home feel drafty. Suppose you built your home before 1960; you more than likely don't have insulation in your attic. Adding insulation is the best way to improve overall comfort and make your home more energy-efficient. A Koala technician can conduct a home energy audit to determine whether your builder adequately insulated your home and the locations that need air sealing. Blown-in insulation is one solution that Koala will recommend when you decide to reinsulate your attic. But what exactly is "blown-in" insulation, and why should you choose it over the other options available? Like all insulation options, blown-in has its advantages and disadvantages, and whether or not you decide to choose it over other insulation options comes down to your specific needs.

What is blown-in insulation made of?

There are two kinds of materials used in blown-in insulation: cellulose and fiberglass. Cellulose consists of cellulose fibers made from newspaper, cardboard, or wood and is made with or without binders. Cellulose is also chemically treated with borate, a fire retardant. Fiberglass is made from glass and other raw materials that are melted and spun into fibers that resemble the texture of wool.

How is blown-in insulation installed?

This is where the name comes in. Blown-in insulation is literally “blown” into the attic, filling stud or joist cavities and covering the attic floor. It requires a blowing device that hooks up to a blower hose to spray the loose insulation material across the floor and into the attic cavities. Next, insulation is installed behind a special fabric to create a seamless blanket filling in voids, including around electrical protrusions.

What are the benefits of blown-in insulation?

Blown-in attic insulation works by protecting your home from excessive heat and cold drafts. It is more airtight than standard rolled batting insulation, therefore reducing energy costs and cutting your heating and cooling costs by 30%.  Depending on the type of blown-in insulation you choose, it can have certain advantages and disadvantages. You can see a complete comparison of blown-in vs. other insulations here, but for reference, here’s a simple breakdown: Blown-In Fiberglass:

  • Thermally efficient – glass by nature does not conduct heat, so fiberglass stops the conduction of heat transfer through your ceiling and walls.
  • Moisture-resistant - it acts as a vapor barrier, prevents mold, and mildew from growing, and reduces condensation by controlling your attic temperature.
  • Fire-resistant – the glass and plastic polymers in the fiber material is non-flammable and non-combustible
  • Lightweight – manufactured in a lightweight, loose-fill form composed of micron-thin strands of blown glass and renewable sand.
  • Made of recycled materials – over half of the material is recycled, and the other portion is manufactured from sand.

Blown-In Cellulose:

  • Good sound absorption – insulation materials are rated by the quality of noise reduction and sound interference they absorb. Cellulose can absorb up to 80% of the sound it comes in contact with.
  • Pest-resistant – The cellulose fibers are treated with boric acid, a pesticide that repels termites, fleas, ants, and other insects
  • Non-irritating to the skin - doesn't contain any glass fibers or any other materials that could cause skin or respiratory irritation.
  • Made of recycled materials – made of 82% recycled newspaper, making it the most neutral option among insulation materials
  • Has the best fire resistance, sound absorption, and insulation effectiveness

When it comes to adding new or upgrading insulation to your attic, blown-in is one of the best options. There are numerous considerations when choosing which insulation to have installed. Proper attic ventilation is required to allow outdoor air to circulate. Installing attic rafter vents before installing the blown-in insulation might be required to allow air circulation. If rafter vents are not installed, the new insulation will restrict airflow, and the attic temperature during the summer months will increase. The age of your home is a huge factor in the insulation process. If your home was built before 1950, it likely doesn't have insulation or had insulation installed dangerously wrong. Koala technicians will complete an extensive inspection on the outside cladding and weather barrier materials, flashing, and pinpoint the locations where air sealing is needed.  

Why should I use Koala Insulation to install my new blown-in insulation or remove my old insulation?

Working with a Koala insulation expert has many advantages. Before we install new insulation, we run a series of checks and services, including:

  • Checking for mold or mildew in the attic. If found, we provide expert mold remediation to keep your home safe.
  • Checking for signs to make sure rodents have not taken up residence in your attic. Roughly a quarter of any rodent infestations are found in your attic.
  • IF we find any evidence of rats or mice in your attic, we remove any carcasses and droppings, clean urine stains, and remove any debris left by the rodents.
  • Sealing leaks, cracks, or holes in your attic between the conditioned and unconditioned spaces. This helps eliminate insects and other pests finding their way into unsealed areas.
  • Checking your attic for warm air bypasses and seal them. These are areas around vents, chimneys, wiring, etc., that leak heated air into the attic. Air bypasses cause 30 to 70 percent of heat loss in or from the attic.
  • Offering a range of insulation and sealant solutions for improved performance in conditioned and unconditioned attics. 

Koala insulation experts are also highly trained and experienced with installing blown-in insulation as well as a wide range of other insulation products to fit your home’s specific needs. Installing high-quality insulation will save you tons of money in the long run. Insulation not only improves your heating and cooling efficiency, but it also protects pipes and wiring from damaging temperature changes, as well as keeps rodents and other pests at bay. This means less overall damage, easier maintenance, and lower repair costs. And by hiring a professional insulation expert to install your insulation, you ensure that it's done right the first time, allowing you to enjoy your well-insulated home worry-free for years to come.