When you find out that you have asbestos insulation in your attic, your first thought is that it must be removed immediately. Your second thought is how much is asbestos abatement going to cost?
We know the idea of asbestos lurking above you is disturbing—after all, you’ve heard countless stories about the dangers of asbestos exposure such as lung cancer and other illnesses. And, while asbestos is indeed hazardous, we’re here to reassure you that the insulation in your attic can be dealt with without risking your physical or financial health.
In this blog, we’ll explain the cost of asbestos removal and the proper steps to take if you suspect asbestos material is lurking in your attic.
The Cost to Remove Asbestos Insulation in Attics
We’ll come out with the bad news right away—we can’t give you a precise quote for removing asbestos from your attic ceiling.
As we’ll explain, asbestos removal is a multi-step process involving, at minimum, an asbestos inspector and a certified asbestos removal professional that can take care of the old insulation.
Therefore, the asbestos removal cost will depend on several factors including:
- Where you live – Because of the potential health hazards, asbestos remediation is never a DIY job. And just like car insurance and real estate, the cost of asbestos removal services varies between geographic regions.
- The contractors you hire to inspect and remove – Your local market features contractors with varying degrees of experience and various demands on their schedules. No matter what, it’s important to hire an asbestos contractor from a reputable asbestos disposal company who has completed the Environmental Protection Agency’s asbestos training to have your asbestos removed.1 Beyond that, look for professionals with good reviews and affordable rates.
- The size of your attic – Do you live in a two-bedroom home with a relatively small attic? You’ll likely be looking at a lower overall asbestos removal cost than would the neighbor with the 1,000 sq foot attic above their mini-estate.
- The amount of insulation you need to remove – You might think that your attic’s square footage is the only factor involved in the volume of asbestos contamination and the cost of removing asbestos. However, the total amount of insulation depends on the thoroughness of the original contractor’s job, whether they used a mix of materials, and the specific shape of your attic.
- The type of new insulation you elect to install – Once you’ve removed the material containing the hazardous material of asbestos waste, you’ll likely want to replace the insulation right away. Otherwise, you’ll risk higher utility costs. Likewise, a lack of insulation protection could expose your home to further damage from humidity, extreme heat, and extreme cold.
Ready to start getting quotes?
Not so fast. In some cases, attic insulation removal is not the best option—and even if it is, it’s important to thoroughly understand asbestos material and the risks of asbestos exposure.
Next, we’ll lead you through a step-by-step guide to finding the best for your specific asbestos abatement situation and budget.
Step 1: Understand Your Insulation
You already know asbestos is dangerous. But do you understand what makes this building material risky?
In short, asbestos is a toxic mineral with fine particles that can easily be inhaled, leading to lung damage and serious health issues. Agitating or removing your insulation can release these particles.
If you’re concerned about asbestos contamination, you won’t want to poke, prod, or remove your old roof insulation yourself or undertake disposal. Instead, take steps to make sure it actually contains this mineral and consider asbestos testing.
There are two types of insulation used in residential properties that may be an asbestos containing material: batt insulation and vermiculite.
The good news is it’s very rare to find batt insulation containing asbestos still in use.2 The loose-fill style of insulation containing asbestos was far more ubiquitous.
However, if your attic has very old batt insulation, you should get a laboratory test to confirm that it’s asbestos-free.
The biggest concern for asbestos in attics is vermiculite insulation.3 Vermiculite insulation is made of small pebble-sized pieces. It’s generally silver-gold or brownish-grey and looks like a mini-accordion.
Like asbestos, vermiculite is a mineral. On its own, vermiculite isn’t harmful. Unfortunately, most of the vermiculite used to insulate attics in the United States from the 1940s through the 1970s came from the same mine in Libby, Montana.4 This mine was contaminated with asbestos, tainting all of the vermiculite that came from it.
Step 2: Avoid Disturbing Your Vermiculite Insulation
If you spy vermiculite insulation, your first step is alerting all family members to avoid entering the attic, removing stored boxes, or agitating the insulation.
Asbestos is at its most hazardous when it’s friable, or easily crumbled. This allows the tiny fibers to break free into the surrounding air where they’re inhaled. The small pieces of vermiculite used in attic insulation can release many asbestos fibers when disturbed.
If the option to leave vermiculite insulation alone exists, the EPA recommends that you do just that.5 Think of it like a bumblebee. If you don’t bother the bee, it won’t harm you. However, if you frighten it, you might get stung. If undisturbed, the vermiculite won’t become friable. If you move it around, it can crumble further and release microscopic fibers into the air of your home.
Unless you plan to finish your attic and use it as a living space, odds are you don’t spend much time up there. If this is your family’s situation, the EPA recommends that you avoid:6
- Storing boxes near any place in your attic that will require you to disturb the insulation to move the boxes.
- Letting children play in the attic if vermiculite is exposed.
The bonus? You’ll save money by avoiding the cost of asbestos removal.
Step 3: Before Removal, Hire an Inspector
While it’s recommended that you leave vermiculite insulation alone if at all possible, we know there are situations where it must be removed. These include:
- Rodent or other pest infestations
- Water or fire damage to the attic
- Renovation requiring removal of existing structural elements
When you’re ready to hire an asbestos removal company, the first step is finding a qualified asbestos inspector to assess the insulation.1 They’ll take samples and discuss the removal of the vermiculite with you. You’ll also receive a written summary of their recommendation for removal.
The inspector will also follow up after the insulation has been eliminated to ensure that the job was done correctly.
Step 4: Hire a Contractor
Hiring a contractor to remove the asbestos can be one of the most difficult steps. You need a person who will follow guidelines precisely to avoid contaminating your home with asbestos fibers.
As we’ve noted, the EPA stresses the importance of only choosing contractors certified to remove asbestos. Each state maintains a list of currently licensed contractors.7 They also recommend that you get everything in writing from the contractor you select for the insulation removal.
Once again, costs can vary between contractors, so we recommend getting several quotes.
Step 5: Monitor the Home
After the contractor’s work is complete, either the inspector who provided your original evaluation or an independent air testing contractor will need to monitor the air quality of your home.
- It’s important to have someone other than the contractor who performed the removal work do this step to avoid a conflict of interest.
- For example, if you hire an inspector who works in the same office as the contractor you choose, they might act in their business’ best interest rather than yours. Working with two people who don’t have connections to one another ensures you aren’t caught in the middle.
Keep in mind that this extra visit will likely come at an additional cost. However, it’s more than worth it to ensure your home is safe and healthy.
Step 6: Install New Insulation
The final step in the vermiculite removal process is to install new insulation. We know—it might be tempting to go without insulation, especially if you live in a warmer climate. However, it’s critical for temperature regulation no matter where you are.
The right insulation keeps warm air from leaching into your air-conditioned space and cold air from seeping in from outside. Both of these mean lower energy bills and a more comfortable home.
Your exact insulation needs will depend on the climate where you live and the size of your attic. A professional can advise you on the best insulation for your home.
Call Attic Construction to Finish the Job
Once the vermiculite has been removed from your attic, you’re going to need new insulation. That’s where we come in. Attic Construction is the best resource for your insulation needs. We’ve been in business for 10 years and know the latest regulations regarding the appropriate insulation for your home.
We’re happy to answer all your questions about your attic. Contact us today to request an appointment so we can prepare a quote for your new insulation.
- EPA. Asbestos Professionals: Who Are They and What Can They Do? https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family-exposures-asbestos#professionals
- The Asbestos Institute. Identifying Asbestos Insulation. https://www.theasbestosinstitute.com/2020/06/02/identifying-asbestos-insulation/#
- Asbestos.com. Asbestos Insulation. https://www.asbestos.com/products/insulation/
- Lincoln County Asbestos Resource Program. Asbestos: Vermiculite and Libby. https://lcarp.org/vermiculite-and-libby/
- EPA. Protect Your Family from Exposure to Asbestos. https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family-exposures-asbestos#doanddont
- Michigan Department of Community Health. Current Best Practices for Vermiculite Attic Insulation. https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch_AsbestosVermInsulationbroch2_86157_7.pdf
- EPA. State Asbestos Contacts. https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/state-asbestos-contacts
- Asbestos.com. History of Asbestos. https://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/history/
- EPA. If You Hire an Asbestos Professional Contractor. https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family-exposures-asbestos#contractor