Thursday, January 15, 2015

Getting Caught Up For The New Year

I am so behind on my blogging!  But I did take time earlier this week to export my 2014 blog content to Blurb for my annual soft-cover year-in-review book.  It gets "slurped" up into BookSmart but then does require a fair amount of massaging to correct pagination, move photos around to match the text, and select some photos for enlargement on inter-leaf pages.  So this took time over several days to get this done.

I've been doing Blog-to-Books for several years.  When the day comes that I'm 95 years old, it is possible that on-line blogging sites will have gone out of business, my personal webpage will have long been removed, and my digital photos will long be gone from their web hosting site.  Books - diaries really - are all that will be left as documentation of my life.

I had other things going on in this New Year, as well.  One major - and very expensive - project was having my attic fiberglass insulation removed, the attic cleaned up, sanitized, and fumigated, and then having better, "green" cellulose insulation installed at a much higher R-factor blown in.  You see...rats are a real problem here in Texas and, come winter, they seek out any form of warm and dry shelter.  It seems they decided that my attic was most hospitable and had quickly homesteaded up there.  They've also set up housekeeping in a number of my neighbors' attics as well.  It's shocking how small of a hole or space they need to squeeze inside.

Arriving right on time!  8:30 AM sharp and already unloading

The company that did all of this was top-notch from start to finish.  Excellent communications, always professional, always there when they said they'd be there.  I had the estimate done January 2, and the crew of five men showed up January 8, exactly on time, with a courtesy phone call to let me know they were on their way.  They immediately got to work and each had an assigned job to do and did it well.
Three giant generator-driven vacuum machines

The first thing they did was to spray hospital-grade viricide-bactericide on all surfaces in the attic and while that settled and decontaminated everything, they unloaded one of the two large trailers with all sorts of heavy equipment and giant tool cases.

Three workers up there, vacuuming out the old insulation

Then up into the attic they went...three of them with giant hoses and vacuumed out every last shred of that fiberglass.  It was a huge amount of work and generated huge amounts of noise with those monstrous gas generator-driven vacuum boxes out in the driveway.  Five or six enormous HEPA bags were filled with insulation and who knows what else (rats, mice, cockroaches, silverfish, spiders??).
Giant HEPA bag filled with insulation/debris.
A total of five or six of these were filled.


One of the workers caulking, sealing, nstalling flashing and screening
over every nook and cranny around the perimeter and on the roof

While the vacuum extraction of the old insulation was going on, the other two were clambering up and down ladders to inspect every nook and cranny in the eaves, the roof, the stackpipes, vents, soffits, fascias, ridge vents, weep holes and sealed up every possible port of entry with caulk, screening, metal mesh.
Installing the new, better dryer vent

Varmint-proof dryer vent

Once all the insulation was removed, the foreman and another worker inspected every inch of electrical wire and every HVAC duct in the attic for damage.  There were no damaged wires but the did find many areas where rats had chewed through the outer insulation on the ductwork, so the workers repaired all of it with aluminum wrap.

The final step before blowing in the new insulation was to fumigate the entire attic space with a high-pressure blower, which would push the fumigant deep into every little crevice in the attic.  Why fumigate?  Well, most likely, along with the rats came fleas, mites, lice. And with the rats gone, these pests would have no food source and would move downstairs into my living quarters in search of warm blood.  The added plus is that the fumigation would rid my attic of any other insects living there as well such as silverfish (a huge pest here in warm, humid Texas), wood roaches, spiders, and other yucky creepy crawlies, and it would do it far more effectively with the insulation gone than would quarterly visits from an exterminator.

My kitty and I had to vacate the house during this fumigation step.  I had already coaxed her into her cat carrier and placed her in the quiet surrounds of my walk-in closet, so kitty in her carrier and I got in the car and drove to Starbucks for lunch and then lingered over a cappuccino until the foreman called me with the "all clear."

Giant powerful blower to install the cellulose insulation

When I returned, they were already setting up to start blowing in the new cellulose insulation.  The blower and the bales of cellulose were in the second, very large trailer out at the curb.  Two of the crew were still doing the remediation/exclusion work on the exterior of the house, a tedious and painstaking process to close up every single possible entry point.  Who knew that houses were so "porous?"

Over the bushes and through the garage, to the attic goes the cellulose insulation!

The cellulose insulation is treated with 15% boric acid as an insect and rodent deterrent and can only be installed by a licensed exterminator.  I opted for a much higher R-factor that the minimum R-30 that was originally installed.  They even placed rulers throughout the attic to guide them in the insulation installation and to serve in future should I ever sell the house, telling the home inspector at a glance just how much insulation there is in the attic.
Insulation over the dining room and foyer - see the ruler?

Insulation over the kitchen area

It took almost 3 hours to blow in all of that insulation.  Hard work for the two guys in the attic and the one guy "manning" the giant compressor/blower unit installed inside of that trailer.  But in the end, the results are gorgeous, if there is such a thing as gorgeous insulation.  A few rat traps were set just in case there is a straggler or two, and the job is done!

Statement of Compliance

Major $$$ but well worth it.  Even if I hadn't had this problem, I was seriously considering re-insulating the attic anyway for greater R-factor and to upgrade the insulation material.  I would have removed the old insulation, so much of this expense would have been incurred anyway.  But darn!  It's a lot of travel money!  Or new granite counters in the kitchen, or remodeled master bathroom, or...

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a big job. I bet you are glad to have it done even if the cost was so great. It should keep you warmer in winter and cooler in summer and nice not to have the varmints too.

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