Removing the insulation from your attic is no picnic for anyone. It’s not only that it sure takes some time and patience to do it, but it sure needs you to pay attention to many details in order to do it right.
There are quite some many risks to keep in mind when vacuuming loose insulation from the attic and rodent infestations or water damage are some of the most important to consider. You need to keep in mind that wet insulation may develop mold and you definitely don’t want any rodents spreading disease or damaging for good the structure of your attic.
Therefore, mold and rodent are quite a big issue and you need to make sure that contaminants don’t get airborne, spreading throughout your house as you do disturb the insulation for vacuuming it.
Preparation is the key
This is definitely the most important thing to consider when planning vacuuming the insulation from your attic.
- You should start by checking to see if your insulation contains or not traces of asbestos.
If your house was built somewhere in between 1930 and 1950, you should definitely check for asbestos. Don’t overlook this step and don’t try to remove the insulation until you’re 100% sure about the asbestos.
Get a testing kit from a home improvement store or talk to an inspector that may help you by taking samples of the insulation. He sends if to a lab for testing and if there’s any asbestos, you should get some professional help to remove the insulation and dispose it in safe conditions.
- Look for the mold or rodent infestation Mold may be toxic, whereas rodents may contaminate insulation with urine, droppings and, why not, decomposing carcasses.
If that’s the case for your attic, only a professional is going to be able to remove the insulation safe and sound. You don’t want any diseases or mold spores to be spread it even more.
A professional would also clean and disinfect the attic before you install the new insulation.
If your attic doesn’t contain any asbestos, rodents or mold, you may safely clean and remove the insulation on your own.
It’s a lot easier if you have blown-in fiberglass or cellulose insulation, so it depends.
How to do it
When you have some blown-in insulations, you do need to start with checking your vacuum.
- You need a high-powered, large capacity shop vacuum. If not, you may also rent a specialized HEPA-filter insulation removal equipment from a tool and equipment rental shop.
As the blown-in insulation is kind of loose, you need to pay attention as it’s going to be messy and difficult to contain. Small airborne particles from this type of insulation may cause respiratory problems and even contact dermatitis.
- Don’t forget about the protective clothing, goggles and a high quality mask or respirator before you proceed with the cleaning.
- Get some large rolls of plastic sheeting and prepare the areas of your home to get any particles that get into the air.
- Attics tend to be small and tight so you may need to get creative to use efficiently the vacuum inside the attic.
You may tie a rope to the vacuum and pull it slowly toward you, sucking gradually the insulation. When you got a nice path that maintains an effective distance from the remaining insulation, it’s better to try the get into the corners and other small crevices.
Move slowly and carefully where the attic space isn’t finished. Be meticulous and use some pieces of scrap wood to make a mobile safe spot to work. You always have to be careful in the attic as chances for a misplaced foot, hand or even the heavy vacuum causing some unfortunate drywall fixing are quite high.
- Empty the container when it’s full to a larger, rugged trash bag and make sure you seal it tight.
You really don’t want the insulation to get loose and float all around the rest of your house. You’d have to come back to vacuum in the end.
- Go to a certified trash center for disposing the old insulation. There are local regulations that may restrict when or how you can dispose the cellulose insulation or fiberglass.
You may recycle the fiberglass insulation to make a new one. Check for a fiberglass manufacturer in your area.
As for the cellulose insulation, you may not recycle it because of the fire retardants that are used into the making. Make your research and be sure, where you’re gonna take the insulation after you remove it.
Some final thoughts
Don’t forget about the attic joists. This is going to help you remove the very small pieces of insulation that may infiltrate the air.
For the joists, make sure you begin at the farthest end and work all the way backwards to the attic exit. Last thing you want is to end up stuck in in the corner while vacuuming the insulation. Even if you wear mask or respirator, you’re not completely out of the woods until you’re outside, in fresh air.