If you’ve noticed that your home isn’t as warm as it’s meant to be, it could be a sign that it’s time to remove and replace your attic insulation. While older homes may have asbestos insulation which definitely requires professional attention to remove, newer homes mostly have either blown-in insulation or fiberglass batt insulation.

The cost to hire a professional insulation removal service is between $2,000 and $3,000. However, with some elbow grease, the right equipment, and some safety gear, you can handle your attic insulation removal yourself. Doing it yourself will reduce your attic insulation removal cost to between $1,000 and $1,500. 

Why remove insulation?

attic insulation

Damaged attic insulation severely compromises the energy efficiency of your home and puts more pressure on your HVAC system. 

Rodent infestations and the presence of other animals like raccoons and possums are a possibility. These pests will encourage an infestation of ticks. mites and fleas. Furthermore, their urine and feces can negatively affect the air quality of your home and cause health hazards.

Water damage and mold infestations are other possible calamities that damaged attic insulation can lead to if left as is.

Removing old and contaminated insulation and replacing it will reduce your energy bills while keeping you and your family healthy.

Preliminary precautions

Attic spaces are not necessarily the safest place for you to explore. Adhere to these preliminary precautions to avoid accidents and possible injuries during the course of your DIY project.

  1. Always make sure you step only on the floor joists. This is because the drywall on the attic floors may not be able to handle your body weight. Chances are, your foot will go through the drywall and take you with it. Consider reinforcing the floor with wooden planks across the joists to enable you to work more comfortably.
  2. A hardhat is a must! This is because attic roofs often have exposed nails protruding through the roof. Your head coming into contact with one of those or an overhead wooden beam is sure to leave a mark.
  3. A hangable flashlight or work light is essential. Attics aren’t usually very well lit. Headlights that you can attach to your hardhats will be really handy as well.
  4. Attics also tend to be dusty. A 95-rated face mask will protect your airways from dust allergies.
  5. Durable rubber-coated work gloves will ensure your hands stay clean and safe during the process.
  6. Spray foam insulation can be an irritant if it comes in contact with skin, causing itching. Coveralls are also must-haves to protect your skin.
  7. Protect your eyes with anti-fog protective eyewear.

Recognizing insulation types

Before you begin removing your attic insulation, it is important to first recognize the type of insulation your home has installed.

Blown-in cellulose insulation is loose-fill insulation that is usually brown or grey in color. The material itself is loose and crumbles easily when handled.

Fiberglass batt insulation comes in mats that are two feet wide by four feet long and can be between four inches to 12 inches thick. These boards are normally pink, white, yellow, or brown in color.

Attic insulation removal

blown in insulation types

Equipment needed

  1. You will need a 23 horsepower commercial grade insulation removal vacuum, along with 150 feet 4”-10” vacuum hoses, metal hose connectors, industrial vacuum bags to load the old insulation, and gas containers with gasoline.
  2. You will need a ladder to access the attic. An ideal height would be between six feet and 10 feet.
  3. If you cannot get a commercial-grade insulation removal vacuum, you will need rakes, dustpans, and a HEPA filtered shop-vac.
  4. Floor and wall coverings with tape to hold the coverings in place.
  5. A dumpster.

The process to remove blown-in insulation

  1. Stage all the necessary gear either in your garage, lawn or driveway.
  2. Prepare your home for the mess to come. Begin by clearing a path from your front door to your attic access. Next, cover the floor and walls along the pathway using the floor and wall coverings. Secure them with tape. Finally, set up the ladder underneath the attic access.
  3. If you’re using a commercial grade vacuum, set it up and route the hoses through your home to the attic. If you aren’t using one, place your HEPA filtered shop-vac, rakes, dustpans, and vacuum bags in the attic.
  4. Put on your protective gear. 
  5. If you’re using a commercial-grade insulation removal vacuum, you will need someone to monitor it.
  6. Climb into the attic to begin removal.
  7. Use the vacuum to suck out all the insulation from the walls. The rakes and dustpans will come in handy to clear the debris and fill up the vacuum bags.
  8. Follow the same procedure until the entire attic is clear of insulation and debris.
  9. Dispose of the old and contaminated insulation in the dumpster.

The process to remove fiberglass batt insulation

  1. Stage all the necessary gear either in your garage, lawn or driveway.
  2. Prepare your home for the mess to come. Begin by clearing a path from your front door to your attic access. Next, cover the floor and walls along the pathway using the floor and wall coverings. Secure them with tape. Finally, set up the ladder underneath the attic access.
  3. If you’re using a commercial grade vacuum, set it up and route the hoses through your home to the attic. If you aren’t using one, place your HEPA filtered shop-vac, rakes, dustpans, and vacuum bags in the attic.
  4. Put on your protective gear. 
  5. Climb into the attic to begin removal.
  6. Remove each piece of insulation by hand. Roll it up and place it in the vacuum bags.
  7. If you’re using a commercial-grade insulation removal vacuum, you will need someone to monitor it.
  8. Use the vacuum cleaner, rakes, and dustpan to clear up the attic of all the debris.
  9. Continue the process until all the insulation and debris have been removed from the attic.
  10. Dispose of the old and contaminated insulation in the dumpster.

Pro-tip

Removing insulation out of your attic can be stressful and claustrophobic. Ensure you take a break and get fresh air every 15 minutes or so to ensure your body temperature does not increase to dangerous levels.

DIY projects: Attic insulation removal was last modified: September 30th, 2021 by Narayan Shrouthy
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