My husband and I need to replace our furnace. If possible, we also want to even out the heating and cooling in our house – one upstairs room is perpetually hot in the summer, and a basement bedroom needs a space heater in winter for comfort.
We had a furnace salesman give us an estimate recently. He suggested more insulation in the attic as a first step to improving the ability of our air conditioner to cool the upstairs room.
I immediately asked, “How would you get the insulation into the attic? Will we get dust and fibers all over the house?”
My questions were prompted by memories of the insulation my father installed in our family’s lake cabin when I was in high school. A contractor had framed in the house and done the plumbing and electrical work, but my father did all the inside work.
The first time our family spent a long weekend in the cabin, we walked into the small house that had studs on the walls, but no wallboard or paneling. Rolls of pink fiberglass insulation sat on the floor.
“Pillows!” my seven-year-old sister exclaimed, throwing herself on top of the pretty pink piles.
And then she burst into tears when she started itching.
My father hadn’t even turned on the water in the cabin yet, so she had to wait for a shower to wash the glass fibers off her skin. We had no washer or dryer, so my mother couldn’t wash her clothes. It took a couple of showers and a lot of skin lotion before my sister felt normal, and she complained of itching all weekend.
As my father and brother worked with the insulation rolls, they wore long pants, long sleeves and gloves. The rest of us avoided the nasty stuff as much as possible.
This long-ago weekend ran through my mind when the salesman told me we needed more insulation in our attic. How would we avoid similar discomfort while fixing our home?
The window he pointed at is in front of my office desk. So if we decide to proceed, I will have to move my laptop and clean off my desk. My skin crawls at that thought, but it won’t be as bad as spreading fiberglass particles throughout the house.