Tips For Attic Insulation Removal
Attic insulation removal can be a messy and time consuming job. However, homeowners are frequently faced with this challenge for any number of reasons (Check out our post Old Insulation Removal for Healthy Homes for reasons why you would need to remove your attic insulation). Rodent infestations or water damage often require insulation be removed so that damage can be contained and repaired. Wet insulation can breed mold, while rodents spread disease and can cause structural problems. If mold or rodent problems have persisted for a while, precautions need to be taken so that contaminants do not become airborne and spread throughout the house when the insulation is disturbed.
When it comes to safe attic insulation removal, preparation is key. The first step is to make sure that the insulation does not contain any traces of asbestos. According to the U.S. Consumer Protection Agency, this is very important if your home contains insulation manufactured between 1930 and 1950. Do not try to remove any insulation until your are absolutely sure. You can purchase a testing kit from a home improvement store or contact an inspector who can take samples of the insulation and send them to a lab for testing. If asbestos is present, you will have to hire professional to remove the insulation and ensure it is disposed of in a proper manner.
If you notices any signs of mold or rodent infestation, you will need to contact a professional as well. Mold can potentially be toxic, and rodents contaminate insulation with droppings, urine and even decomposing carcasses. A professional will be able to remove the insulation safely by containing mold spores or any possible diseases that the rodents may be carrying. They will also thoroughly clean and disinfect the area before new insulation is installed.
If there is no asbestos and mold or rodents are not a concern, it is generally safe to proceed with attic insulation removal yourself. In many cases, homeowners will find that they have blown-in fiberglass or cellulose insulation. This can make the job much messier than removing rolls or batting, but it can be done.
To remove blown-in insulation, you will need to make sure you have a high-powered, large capacity shop vacuum. Or, you can rent specialized HEPA-filter insulation removal equipment from a tool and equipment rental facility. Because it’s loose, blown-in insulation it has the tendency to be messy and hard to contain. Small airborne particles from blown-in insulation can also lead to respiratory problems or cause contact dermatitis. Make sure you also have the right protective clothing, goggles, and a good mask or respirator before you start. You may also want to use large rolls of plastic sheeting and tape off areas of your home to contain any particles that get into the air.
Some attic spaces are very small and tight, so you may need to find a creative way to maneuver the vacuum inside the attic. If the attic not large enough for a person to move around, it’s possible to tie a rope to the vacuum and gradually pull it toward you as it sucks up the insulation. Once you have a path that will allow you to keep a suitable distance from the remaining insulation, you can try reaching the corners and other crevices. Use caution moving around an unfinished attic space. Use a a few pieces of scrap wood to create a mobile safe spot to work. Often there is nothing between you and your ceiling than a few rafters, and a misplaced foot, hand or heavy vacuum can require annoying drywall repairs.
When the vacuum is full, empty the container into large, heavy-duty trash bags and make sure they are well sealed. You do not want the insulation getting loose and floating around the rest of the house.
When disposing of old insulation, find a recycling or trash center certified to handle it. Local regulations may restrict how fiberglass or cellulose insulation can be acceptably disposed. Fiberglass insulation can sometimes be recycled to make new insulation. Check and see if there is a fiberglass manufacturer nearby. Cellulose insulation generally cannot be recycled because of the fire retardants used on the product. Be sure to do your research and know where you will take the insulation once it is removed.
Attic insulation removal may seem simple enough at first. However, is not necessarily an easy job and can pose a number of problems for homeowners. Don’t be afraid to call for professional help if the task becomes overwhelming.