Properly Removing Old (or Damaged) Insulation

With the upsurge of home renovations and retrofits these days, it’s common for the homeowner to remove and replace existing insulation. It’s actually quite an important home improvement, and with a much better payoff than something like a washroom renovation. For those moving into a “new” home, it’s difficult to know what to expect with the existing insulation. In fact, removal of the insulation may well be necessary, and often recommended by a professional contractor.

Many a home centre will suggest that new insulation (whatever the product) can be installed on top or over existing insulation. But the professionals will likely recommend otherwise – it’s because the best results are achieved from scratch. One never knows what’s underneath, and it’s far better to remove old insulation, make the necessary repairs and restorations, and install brand new insulation. In other words, doing it right the first time is the preferred course of action.

Removing old insulation (especially in the attic area) can be complicated. It’s a process requiring care and attention, if only to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone involved. And it’s not a project where cutting corners can save money. In the insulation industry, the experts agree that this is work best left in the hands of a professional – someone with the experience and expertise to do the job properly, and with the right tools and equipment to handle all of the complexities.

For many homeowners, removing old (or damaged) insulation looks like a simple task, something the DIY devotee can do over a long weekend. This thinking may prove to be premature, mainly because of the risk factors. To be sure, there may be hazardous materials leftover from previous installs, and there may be deposits of harmful mold. In the worst-case, there may be asbestos or vermiculite, both of which become very dangerous when disturbed from their resting state.

Removing insulation requires the right type of equipment, and the right type of safety gear. It’s not the right time for quick fixes, and certainly not the time for a dubious contractor. The truth is, a good insulation contractor will actually advise if removal is even necessary! And every situation is different – it may emerge that the existing insulation is just inadequately installed – or perhaps the roof is leaking and creating damage on only a portion of the insulation.

When hiring a reputable insulation contractor, experience and expertise is included. The experts can see the “big picture”, which includes removal, remediation and reinstallation. And most of the time, the contractor has the best interests of the customer in mind. As such, recommendations are designed to bring long-term results, including suitable options for products and installation. There is really no better alternative than doing it right the first time.

At the end of the day, a comprehensive approach to insulation removal is preferred. Of course, the reinstall is equally important. In addition to properly insulating the space, it’s also necessary to properly seal and ventilate, all of which contributes to an improved, energy efficient environment.