Removing Old Insulation - A Very Good Idea - But With Care and attention.
March 24, 2015
Insulation removal may be necessary (and recommended) during a renovation or retrofit. And while it's true that new insulation can be readily installed over existing insulation, the very best results are accomplished when the old insulation is completely removed and new insulation is installed. When removing old insulation, and especially in the attic, it's worth doing the job right the first time - and it must be done with care and attention, without affecting the health, safety and comfort of occupants. Cutting corners to save money could be risky in the long run. Home improvement centers are full of products, equipment, and advice - all of them related to removing old insulation. However, industry experts agree that this is a project best left to an expert. On the surface, it looks simple and straightforward, and of course, the DIY enthusiast is ready to go. But all things considered, jumping into an insulation removal project may well be premature - it's the professional contractor or renovator who has the expertise and experience to do the job properly, and may even offer insulation removal as part of a full service package. For the uninitiated homeowner, removing old insulation may pose potential risks: hazardous materials might still be present from a previous installation - harmful accumulations of mold or mildew might exist - and in a worst case scenario, there may be leftover deposits of asbestos or vermiculite. Needless to say, the right kind of removal equipment is essential, and safety gear is a must. This is not the time or place for taking shortcuts, whether it's the DIY property owner or a contractor who comes on the scene with some extremely "low-ball" estimate. A reputable insulation professional will advise their customer whether removal is even needed. It may be a situation where existing insulation just isn't installed properly. It may be a situation where a leaky roof is damaging only a section of the insulation. Or it may be that the insulation is in good condition, and only requires upgrading. A good contractor will assess all of the above in the best interest of the customer. As well, a reliable contractor will help their customer to understand that insulation removal is part the "big picture" that includes re-insulating. Doing the job right means having an all-inclusive approach. It means totally removing every bit of old insulation. It means that a new vapor barrier might be required. It could mean that old, outdated wiring needs to be removed completely. Or, it could mean that new air-vents (in the attic, for instance) may be necessary. Whatever the situation, a comprehensive installation is preferred - one that includes proper sealing, proper ventilating, and proper insulating. The components work together and compliment each other for the best possible outcome. In the end, it's up to the individual to make astute decisions about insulation removal. There are plenty of issues to consider, and a number of options to weigh. But it's clearly the right time for a professional.