Insulation blower as a vacuum


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Old 09-16-07, 01:51 PM
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Question Insulation blower as a vacuum

I need to replace the drywall ceilings in an older house. The attic was insulated with about two feet of blown fiberglass a couple years ago. It's not cost effective to remove and replace the insulation entirely. So, I need to move the insulation to another room's ceiling, replace the empty ceiling's drywall and then move the insulation back. I could rotate through each room that way.

I would have a professional service move the insulation, but it would take multiple trips. So that isn't cost effective either. None of the local rental centers have an insulation vacuum (about $2200 new). Hence my question.

Could I rent a drum type insultaion blower from Lowes, make a (sealed) lid with a pick-up hose and use that as a vacuum / blower? The lid hose would suck up the insulation and it would be blown out the normal hose. Since any air going through the system has to come through the lid, this should work. In general, that's how normal insulation vacuums work. My concern is that creating "blowing pressure" is different than creating "vacuum pressure." I'm not sure the blower would create enough suction.

What do you think? Any suggestions other than a rake and shovel?

Thanks
Barry
 
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Old 09-16-07, 03:33 PM
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Think your better off replacing it than moving it around!
 
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Old 09-16-07, 09:27 PM
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Thanks for the reply Airman, but the math doesn't work.

I've already done one room by hand. It took two hours to rake / shovel the insulation. I have four more rooms to do. A total of eight more hours labor... by hand.

Re-insulating would cost $500-$600... plus, I'd still have to remove the old insulation. I don't typically make $500-$600 for eight hours labor. So, even shoveling it by hand is more cost effective than removing and re-installing it.

If I had a vacuum / blower to move the insulation, the labor would be less than a half hour per room... and much easier. It won't take much to fabricate (i.e. duct tape) a temporary lid / hose assembly. Lowes or Home Depot will probably let me test the idea in store, before I rent the machine ($20 / day).

I'm hoping someone out there has already tried the blower / vacuum idea or has found another easy solution.

Thanks,
Barry
 
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Old 09-17-07, 11:06 AM
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If I understand what you are saying, you want to seal off the top of a blower barrel and make a hole in the lid and hook another hose to it. So there would be a suction hose(in the handmade lid) and a blower hose. Thats a good theory but the problem is that the air that goes through the blower hose doesn't come from the barrel. It comes from a seperate blower that sucks in air from the outside and not from the barrel.

What you can do though is get a extra large shop vac and hook a long hose to that and then suck out your attic. When the vac gets full, empty it into your other attic.
 
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Old 09-17-07, 09:23 PM
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Unhappy

I looked at Lowes' blowers today. Adamplghtg is exactly right. It's not an impeller arrangement like I thought. Instead, there is a seperate blower. So, my lid idea won't work.

Unfortunately, a shop vac won't work either. I'd have to empty the container a zillion times... even a large one. It would be faster to rake it.

I considered building my own material handling vacuum, but that would take at least a day... and I'm a bit leery of a home made impeller spinning at 3000 RPM. So, unless someone has another idea, I'm back to eight hours of raking.

Thanks
Barry
 
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Old 09-19-07, 07:08 PM
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Thumbs up Found a solution

After 4 hours of raking yesterday, I realized this was going to take longer than I thought. Luckily, I came up with a real solution.

Harbor Freight has a 1 HP, electric, portable dust / chip collector (Item 31810, $89 normally $109). It's designed exactly like an insulation vacuum, only smaller. Just remove the inlet and outlet grids to allow insulation to pass. It has a metal impeller to handle wood chips, etc., but you'll need to avoid larger debris.

Real insulation vacuums use a 6" hose. This one uses a 4". I bought 4" corrugated drain pipe at Lowes ($20/50 ft) and cut it to length. It's not super flexible, but the stiffness makes it easy to push into low spots. I used 4 1/2" metal hose clamps to attach the hoses to the vacuum.

I was easily able to suck up and blow a pile of insulation. Judging by how well it worked during the test run, I should finish the whole house in no time... and I'll have a dust collector for my table saw when I'm done.

I hope this helps someone else with a similar problem.

Barry
 
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Old 09-20-07, 06:20 PM
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Just for clarification, most insulation machines use 3" hose. Some of the higher end commercial grade ones have 4".
 
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Old 09-20-07, 07:37 PM
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Cool

I agree most insulation "blowers" use a 3" hose for installation, but most insulation "removal vacuums" (Meyers, Heat Seal, Unisol, Nikro) have a 6" inlet/outlet. Some companies recommend reducing the last hose section to 4" to ease handling and to increase air speed at the pickup end. The 4" corrugated pipe worked great for me.

I finished moving the rest of the insulation today. It took 1/2 hour versus 4 hours by hand. Man that thing works fast... and relatively sweat free. The only trouble was a wood splinter that wedged at the outlet. It collected insulation and plugged the vacuum outlet. It only took a minute to remedy.

I should mention you "HAVE" to wear a good respirator. Full goggles wouldn't be a bad idea either. The high speed impeller breaks up insulation even finer than a normal blower. And man does it blow.

Thanks for everyone's input and suggestions.

Barry
 

Last edited by CowDoc; 09-20-07 at 07:40 PM. Reason: Oops
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Old 09-21-07, 04:49 AM
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Whoops, forgot the vacuum part.
 
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Old 05-28-12, 12:35 PM
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double blown deep insulation

Barry, where is the best place for the pump on the ground or near the attic and how long of a run can be blown.
 
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Old 05-28-12, 03:14 PM
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Welcome to the forums! This is a 5 year old post, and neither of the respondents have been on the forums in years. The information you seek would be best found by asking the renter of the unit or the manufacturer.
 
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Old 05-28-12, 07:34 PM
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Forgotten but not gone

chandler,
I ain't dead yet.

wdywdpkr,
I set the Harbor Freight blower in the attic on a small piece of plywood. It was a bit heavy but managable. I used two 10' lengths of 4" drain pipe on the outlet and three lengths as the vacuum hose. A total of 50".

I hung the outlet from a rafter with wire and moved it occasionally as that section got full. It was a one man job. The drain line was a little stiff but the stiffness allowed me to push the nozzle into tight spaces from up to 10' away.

It took me well less than an hour to move the insulation from half of the attic. Once that half of the ceiling drywall was replaced, I blew the insullation back over the new ceiling. Repeat. As a bonus, the blowing process fluffed the old compressed insulation up as good as new. Saved me $600 to $800 on new insulation and only took a few hours.

Watch for loose nails that could jam the impeller and large wood splinters which cause clogs. Both are easy to avoid.

I'm currently using the blower on a dust collector in my wood shop... and I'm thinking about vacuuming out my fireplace ash bin.
 
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Old 05-29-12, 03:08 AM
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Hey, glad we didn't lose you in the shuffle!!! Always good to have the first hand advice. Wait until the ashes are cool
 
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Old 05-29-12, 10:13 AM
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Oops. That's 50 feet total hose not 50 inches. It was stronger than an normal insulation blower and blew insulation about 8 feet out of the hose. You could add more hose. I'm not sure how high of a lift it would have. Mine was blown fairly level.
 
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Old 03-23-14, 12:39 PM
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Blow it into the attic from below?

I know this is an old thread, but it is exactly what I needed!

I have a question though. I was thinking of emptying the attic out completely to make it easier to do some work up there for a few months and building a temporary storage area out of plywood and maybe plastic sheeting under my covered screened porch.

Do you think it is strong enough to suck out of the attic and blow it into a holding box and then blow it back in from the holding box when I'm ready?
 
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Old 03-23-14, 01:00 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

I'm not sure how high of a lift it would have. Mine was blown fairly level.
Basically he gave you the answer to your question. You probably won't have any problem blowing it down outside but returning it back up may be an issue.
 
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Old 03-23-14, 01:27 PM
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Thumbs up Yes... probably

The blower is pretty darn strong. It's way stronger than those wimpy insulation blowers the orange or blue box stores loan you. Using the 4" corrugated drain pipe, The insulation flew at least 10' (horizontally) out of the exhaust holding the exhaust at chest level. I imagine a smoother or smaller diameter tube would do even better. The box store blowers use a 3" vacuum hose.

I tied the exhaust tube to my rafters, about 6' above the inlet. Based on the strength, I suspect you could lift the insulation a lot higher. How high, I'm not sure. The slower you feed the material, the higher it will lift. The outlet pressure of the fan has to overcome the weight of the insulation in the exhaust tube. Less insulation in the tube at any certain time means less weight to lift. For my attic, I let the 4" inlet suck up as much as it could.

Worst case, blow it down to the porch. Then use an insulation blower from the box store to put it back. Don't people regularly blow insulation from the ground up to the attic of two story buildings using those? I haven't used one. You'll have to ask the box store. Due to their design, they don't have any suction attachment, but they do blow OK. You would have to feed the insulation... like you normally do.

Good luck... and wear a respirator and goggles.
 
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Old 03-24-14, 06:21 AM
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Thanks. I'll post back when I've done a small test run of bringing it down to see if it will blow back up without renting something else. Trying to keep the numbers right also.
 
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Old 03-24-14, 11:59 AM
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The insulation blowers I have seen were nothing more than a vacuum with a "non-loading" blade that also had an air bleed on the inlet connection. You cannot blow the insulation unless you also have enough air for a carrier. Going up one or two stories should not be a problem.
 
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Old 07-14-14, 03:59 PM
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Bags? What Type of Insulation?

Dear Barry,

Thank you for sharing with us. Great tips, especially when looking at a $4,800 alternative (and another $1,100 for the hose) - although it's a 13 HP solution vs. a 1 HP.

So, since you were actually moving insulation from one location to another, you didn't use bags. However, if you were going to remove the insulation, what type bags would you recommend? The ones you'd get for dust collecting or ones you'd get for the expensive insulation vacs (which, here, are $20 apiece)?

Also, it looked like you were working with fiberglass. I would imagine you could use it for cellulose, then, too.

Thanks in advance!

C.
 
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Old 11-23-14, 07:18 PM
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dust collector as insulation vacuum to bags

C. Brown, here is a youtube of a similar setup with bags.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQqcgxiFeUE

All, I also read of someone using a Toro leaf blower on ground level and 75' of flexible ducting to the attic.

Lander
 
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Old 11-24-14, 03:46 AM
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1brickshy, welcome to the forums! I think we have milked this thread enough in 7 years. Closing thread. Please feel free to start a new one if you wish.
 
 

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