Cellulose Fiber Review
  • Eco-friendly
  • R-value
  • Water Resistant
  • Chemical free
  • Fire Rating
  • Can be Recycled again
  • Non-Allergic
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Cellulose Fiber Insulation Review

The new building laws in South Africa have been set in 2011, stating that all newly built homes need to be insulated to reduce power consumption and help South Africa be more energy efficient.

There are many different insulating products on the market to choose from, cellulose fiber insulation also know as pumped in insulation or loose fill insulation is one of them. We all need to be more energy efficient and reduce power consumption. Choosing the right product that suits your needs is important.

Blown in Cellulose fiber

Cellulose fiber insulation is common in older homes and it is usually blown in or pumped in. It is made of fire-resistant treated newspaper. Since this insulation is blown in it can settle over time which will reduce its efficiency for keeping a home properly insulated.

Also it will soak up water quickly so any leaks from the roof or air conditioning system can cause major problems. The insulation can mildew and can spread to the wood framing around it as well as the wetness can cause electrical problems, and rust plumbing pipes.

cellulose fiber ceiling insulationWhat is cellulose fiber insulation made from?

Cellulose is made from recycled newspapers. The newspapers get chopped up into fine, fluffy material. The problem with product is newspapers come with many potential problems. These problems vary from the newspaper being highly flammable to it’s a good nesting place for rodents and can be eaten by insects and attracts fungi and bacteria. Click here for more information on cellulose vs fiberglass. To view eco-friendly polyester insulations view isotherm and think green.

What is it treated with to make it an acceptable insulation?

Cellulose has to be treated with chemicals, otherwise you would have some issues with the product like the above mentioned. Over 20% of the cellulose product consists of chemicals and additives. These chemicals are extremely bad for your health if you accidentally ingest any or inhale it.

Source: Fact vs Claim

cellulose fiber insulation reviewChemicals included:

  • boric acid
  • borax
  • lime
  • ammonium sulfate
  • aluminium sulfate
  • ammonium phosphate
  • mono – and diammonium phosphate
  • aluminum hydrate
  • aluminum trihydrate
  • zinc chloride

If the improper amounts of these chemicals are used then the cellulose will not be able to control flammability at all, and will end up corroding metal or other materials the cellulose might come in contact with.

The beams in your roof are normally held together with metal plates, and if these metal plates were to corrode then it could lead to your roof eventually deteriorating. Cellulose fiber insulation have taken problems like this into consideration. The older cellulose fiber will still contain these flammable and corrosive materials.

Cellulose fiber insulation R-values

We have listed all the cellulose fiber insulation r-values below. Cellulose fiber r-value is good, very similar to that of think pink aerolite insulation or isotherm polyester insulation.

50mm – R-value – 1.25
75mm – R-value – 1.87
100mm – R-value – 2.50
115mm – R-value – 2.87
135mm – R-value – 3.37

Wet cellulose Fiber Insulation

While having any type of insulation get wet can be a bad situation it is very bad for cellulose fiber insulation. This is because it is hygroscopic which means it can absorb water from its surroundings. When water hits the insulation it can compress it causing it to sag and create empty spaces which impair the efficiency of the insulation.

Corrosive when wet

However, what can make this situation even more dangerous is that fact that when wet the chemicals that make it fire-resistant becomes extremely corrosive. Tests were done at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the wet insulation.

Results of these tests show that the wet cellulose can make the metal fasteners, electrical wires, and plumbing pipes rust when in contact with the wet insulation for long periods of time.

Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL),a unit of the U.S.Department of Energy

Can it be recycled?

When insulation is removed from a home, the type it is, determines if the insulation is thrown away or if it can be recycled. Cellulose insulation can’t be recycled because of the fire-resistant treatment. If you are going to remove the cellulose insulation there are certain steps that you need to follow when it comes to dumping the hazardous material.

Its called eco-friendly insulation because it is made from recycled newspapers, yet once treated with the chemicals to make it fire resistant it cant be recycled again. Instead of that recycled paper being used to make more paper, more trees need to be cut down to compensate, which in our opinion makes it a non-eco-friendly insulation product.

Testing your cellulose fiber

If you have had your cellulose fiber in your roof for a few years it would be a good idea to get a sample out your roof and test it to see if it is still capable of being fire retardant. People have found that after a year or two, it does tend to loose its ability to be fire retardant. Check the metal holding your beams together while you up there to make sure the metal is not corroding.

Removing old cellulose fiber

removing cellulose fiber in bagsStep 1

The first thing to do is to make sure the vacuum is outside of the house if possible. If you need to you may want to get some scaffolding if you have to go several stories up and the hoses aren’t long enough to go outside. Then you can set the vacuum on the scaffolding if needed. Once the vacuum is outside run the hose into the roof through a window or a vent. You can even open up one or two tiles in your roof where the plastic underlay joins and fit the hose through the opening in the roof you have created. You dont want to be changing the bags inside your house.

Step 2

Put a large, bag into the vacuum, even a plastic trash bag will do, just make sure it is sealed properly and wont break. Have someone to help you on hand to keep an eye on the bag and the vacuum outside. When the bag gets full have your helper remove the bag, tie it closed and reload the vacuum with a new bag. Make sure the bag it sealed properly after removal.

removing cellulose fiber insulationStep 3

Make sure that you have the correct safety gear on, which should include a good respirator. You do not want to breath in insulation chemicals of any kind. Start by vacuuming in the area closest to you and work your way around the roof, being careful to not hit and damage any electrical wires or pipes. It is quite difficult to remove cellulose fiber insulation, so if you can, always hire a professional company to remove the old insulation for you. A professional company will come with the vacuum and bags ready for the removal process.