Living room in the attic

Should I Remove My Old Attic Insulation: A Helpful Guide

If you own a house with an attic, chances are that you don’t visit the space very often. Maybe you use it as storage—a place to stash your boxes of keepsakes, dusty old furniture, or holiday decorations that just don’t fit anywhere else. 

But even if you only go up into your attic every once in a while, it’s hard to miss its most important feature: the insulation.  And if you suddenly notice an off-odor or extreme temperature in your attic, you might suddenly start to wonder, “Should I remove my old attic insulation?”

Whether you want to avoid attic insulation removal costs or you’re interested in doing a home improvement project, this article is here to help. We’ve put together this complete guide to walk you through the reasons why it’s important to remove old attic insulation and how you can do so safely in order to replace your attic insulation.

Remove Old Attic Insulation for Better Heating and Cooling

The primary reason for removing old attic insulation is to ensure that your home is heated and cooled properly. With age, attic insulation typically deteriorates, meaning that it loses its ability to effectively regulate temperatures and insulate your home. Ordinary deterioration can be caused by shifting or settling insulation materials, or even environmental factors like excessive moisture or damage from direct sunlight.1  

Regardless of the cause, the unfortunate reality is that attic insulation does not last forever. Instead, it eventually needs to be removed and replaced for adequate home temperature control. 

Removing old attic insulation has these added benefits: 2

  • The costs associated with heating and cooling your home go down
  • You and your family can be more comfortable indoors during seasonal extremes 

Other Reasons to Remove Old Attic Insulation

Aside from natural wear and tear or environmental degradation, there are several other reasons why removing old attic insulation is a good idea. In these cases, attic insulation removal is not only important for effective installment but also a necessary step for the health and safety of your family. 

Asbestos

While not all insulation material contains asbestos, it is more commonly found within older homes. Asbestos fiber was popular in construction before the 1980s because this natural mineral is resistant to heat, electricity, and corrosion. These qualities that make it an effective insulator, however, also make it quite dangerous and toxic to the human body.3

Both non-cancerous and cancerous diseases and other health problems can result from exposure to high quantities of asbestos over time.4 

Although the health risks of asbestos are well known now, they weren’t always, so the mineral can be found in older buildings and homes. The most common kind of asbestos insulation that might be found in an attic is vermiculite insulation, though not all types of this insulation contain asbestos. Nevertheless, it is always better to err on the side of caution and at least look into testing your older insulation for asbestos to be sure of its contents. 

Mold 

Unfortunately, mold is commonly found in indoor environments like homes. Moldy attic insulation can result from a variety of factors that are more likely to occur (or become more severe) over time, including:

  • Humid climates
  • Improper venting 
  • Leaks from heating and cooling systems
  • Extreme storms

If mold has made its way into your attic insulation, removal is crucial. The moisture that eventually leads to the development of mold can cause the rapid deterioration of insulation, rendering it much less effective. 

More importantly, mold exposure can pose many health risks in humans, ranging from mild to severe allergic reactions and long-term upper respiratory issues.5 If you have contaminated insulation in a crawl space or attic, it is essential to get it removed by an insulation professional right away.

Pest and Animal Infestation

Critters are another common menace that may warrant attic insulation removal. Infestations are particularly common in older homes, where it is more likely that there are weak spots in the roof or attic exterior.

Possible unwanted intruders include:

  • Raccoons and squirrels – These are the most likely among the larger animal inhabitants of attics. Raccoons and squirrels like to use attic spaces as dens and nests, particularly in the warmer months (“birthing season”) as mothers seek to protect their newborns.6
  • Mice and rats – It’s not uncommon for these other rodents to make attics their temporary or permanent home, especially in the colder months as they seek refuge from the inhospitable temperatures outside. 
  • Bats – For these creatures, attics function just like caves, with plenty of dark spaces and places to hang.7 
  • Insects – Wasps, hornets, and termites are also known for choosing attics as nesting spaces. 

Aside from seeing the actual culprits themselves, signs of pest and animal infestation include: 

  • Droppings or urine
  • Scurrying or squeaking noises
  • Nests made from organic materials
  • Disturbed or damaged insulation

Although certainly a nuisance, pest and animal infestations are also a serious problem that can result in extensive damage to your attic and your existing insulation. After such an infestation, old attic insulation will likely need to be replaced. 

Even if no damage is readily visible, it’s important to replace any insulation that could contain droppings, as pests and animals can be vectors for disease. 

Trust Attic Construction to Remove Old Attic Insulation Safely and Professionally

So, should you replace your attic insulation? Whether your present concern is sky-high utility bills, a strange odor, or your long-term health and safety, know that modern insulation can help ensure your long-term comfort at home.

Attic Construction is here for you as you take the next step of hiring a professional. 

In fact, it’s very important to not attempt to remove old insulation as a DIY project. Since existing insulation can contain harmful and hazardous materials, it’s best to hire knowledgeable and trustworthy insulation professionals.

At Attic Construction, we specialize in attics. Our team of experts can work with you to ensure that your old attic insulation is safely removed and effective new insulation is installed!

 

Sources: 

  1. BNG Heating & Cooling. How does insulation deteriorate after time? https://bngheat.com/insulation-deteriorate-time/
  2. Energy.gov. Insulation.  https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/insulation/
  3. Asbestos.com. Asbestos. https://www.asbestos.com/asbestos/
  4. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Asbestos. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/health_effects_asbestos.html
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mold. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
  6. Wildlifehotline.org. Animal in My Attic. https://www.wildlifehotline.org/animalinmyattic.html
  7. Reader’s Digest. 11 Pests That Could Be Hiding in Your Attic. https://www.rd.com/list/pests-that-could-be-hiding-in-your-attic/

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