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What Are the Best Tips for Removing Attic Insulation?

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  • Written By: Sandi Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2014
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Removing attic insulation is a common task. It may often be required due to contamination by rodents and other damage, home remodeling projects, or in an effort to upgrade the energy efficiency of a home. When done by a homeowner, there are certain tips and precautions to consider before removing attic insulation. First, the homeowner must determine the type of insulation in place and if any special removal procedures are required. If safe to remove without special equipment, then typically the best tips include wearing protective clothing and ensuring particles do not enter the main living areas of the home.

Certain types of insulation, depending on local regulations, require a professional with specific credentials and equipment. Asbestos, for example, is one type of insulation that requires special handling. Due to its carcinogenic nature, many governments regulate removing attic insulation that contains asbestos. Special equipment, containment measures, and handling procedures are required, necessitating professional removal for the safety of residents and neighbors.

Traditional fiberglass insulation, usually in the form of rolls or loose, blown-in clumps, can usually be removed by a homeowner. When removing attic insulation made of fiberglass, it is important to wear protective clothing. Long-sleeve shirts with collars, long pants, boots, gloves, face masks, and protective eyewear can prevent overexposure to fiberglass particles. These particles are irritating to the skin and lungs and can cause a rash or coughing.

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Rolls of fiberglass insulation can typically be rolled up and placed in large garbage bags for easy removal. Making sure to keep the paper side on the outside, each piece can be rolled into a tight ball and compressed to make room for multiple pieces in one bag. Careful and gentle handling, as well as keeping attic doors and vents closed, helps prevent particles from circulating into living areas. Gloves prevent contact with contaminants such as rodent droppings or mold.

In the case of loose insulation — whether fiberglass or other materials such as paper — a vacuum designed for construction debris is the best option for removing attic insulation. As with rolled insulation, protective clothing is necessary to prevent inhalation or skin irritation. Vacuums with a high capacity help improve removal times and can sometimes be rented at home improvement centers, hardware stores, or equipment rental companies. The vacuum canister should be removed to an outdoor area for dumping, again to prevent particles from entering living areas.

Disposal of materials is another consideration when removing attic insulation. Most waste management and residential garbage collection services will not process old insulation. Arrangements may need to be made to transport debris to a collection site, prior to removing attic insulation.

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