Is your insulation blowing equipment rapidly eating your profit? Blowing machines all have the same objective: take a dense fibrous material, fluff it up, and blow it into an attic or wall cavity. Most fiberglass or cellulose insulation blowing machines were designed years ago, for the fiber sizes years ago. The problem is, today’s fiber sizes are smaller, the bags are denser, and they take longer to break up. When you are blowing insulation, you need to slow down the machine in order to get proper conditioning and coverage from your material. The material needs more time to be broken up in the hopper rather than just blowing it down the hose. When you don’t, you are using more material and throwing money away on every job. We were on a job site last fall and after slowing the process down, the crew used 30 fewer bags for the day, than they used the day before. That is around a thousand dollars of profit, all because of the settings on the machine.
Most machines have two different settings that affect the coverage of the material. The first is the feed gate which meters the amount of insulation being fed into the airlock. For attics, most machines need to be set back so the gate is only 75% open. For net and blow applications or blowing walls, a good starting point is only 50% open. When blowing cellulose, the slide gate usually needs to be closed even more than if you’re blowing fiberglass. When a fiberglass bag opens it expands to more than twice its size and is able to flow through the machine easier. Cellulose does not expand and the machine needs more time to condition or break up the fibers so you achieve coverage. This is also why cellulose takes longer and requires about three times as many bags. Be sure to account for this when bidding loose-fill jobs with cellulose.
The second setting affecting material coverage is the blowing pressure. Electric blowing machines will typically have a blower control switch which will adjust the speed of the blower motor. Gas, diesel, or PTO (Power Take Off) machines will typically have a ball valve to bleed off excess air pressure. Whatever machine you have, when blowing insulation you are looking for about a 10-foot arc of material coming out of the hose into the attic. At this pressure, the material is blowing through the hose at a speed that will allow the hose to condition the material properly.
Remember, these settings are just to get you started. Each machine will need to be fine-tuned to achieve maximum productivity while achieving coverage. Additionally, the material, application, and hose size, and length will affect the settings of each machine. Be sure to check your coverages on each job to make sure you are maximizing your coverage per bag as well as your crew’s time.
For more tips and information on fiberglass or any of the products IDI carries, reach out to your local branch or contact us at the main office. Our goal is to help you grow profitably and we look forward to doing that every day.