Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blowin' (Cellulose) in the Wind

Friday, October 22 marks the first day of insulation at The Village at Tom's Creek lot 210. The homeowners have worked with Progress Street Builders to select an insulation portfolio that will utilize blown cellulose in all exterior walls and expanded polystyrene foam in the roof-line, band, tub surrounds and behind interior fireplaces. According to the project superintendent, insulation can begin once roofing progress reaches 75% and all exterior weatherproofing is in place to make sure that no moisture will penetrate the foam, cellulose or fiberglass and cause mold issues later on. The following pictures show the process of blowing cellulose insulation into exterior walls:

Evergreen Insulation, based in Christiansburg, VA rolled their big rig on site bright and early to begin setup for the operation. Loose insulation is dumped into a large machine in the back of the truck that combines a blowing function with a vaccum, and has  a reach of several hundred feet via a large hose.
Feeding the Line
Once the hose has been payed out, the blower is activated and the insulators can begin their work. The bagged cellulose insulation includes a non-famaldehyde-based adhesive that, when added with water in the blowing machine, creates a sticky insulation that adheres to sheathing and completely fills wall cavities. Although the cellulose is blown at high speed, the product is wet and carries enough weight that it does not clog the air with dust particles, therefore eliminating the need for respirators and other body protection during the installation. The process is infinitely more pleasant than installing fiberglass batts, in which case full body protection including respirator, gloves and eye protection is recommended.
Blowing Cellulose
The blowing process does not create a smooth finish that will allow drywall installation, so finishing process is necessary to cut the cellulose flush with the wall studs.
Trimming Flush
Finally, a vacuum is used to capture the leftover cellulose, which is recycled back into the holding take in the truck for reuse.
Collecting the Leftovers
Blown cellulose is, in my opinion, a phenomenal choice for insulating a home. The product can achieve R-values in the range of standard fiberglass batts and more fully fills wall cavities, ensuring that there are no cool spots in the house. The material properties of cellulose are also much more environmentally friendly; it is made from recycled cardboard, newspaper and blue jeans, has an extremely low embodied energy content, and creates virtually zero waste. Blown cellulose is a great way to earn points in green rating systems like EarhCraft, LEED for Homes and NAHB Green Homes.

Check out the Cellulose Insulation Manufacturing Association for more info!

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