4 Reasons Why Insulation Extraction is Necessary

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017 by Joy Padgett

We have had several people call us specifically to find out if we can take out their old insulation before we put new insulation in their attic. The answer is “Yes!”

We are thrilled when someone calls us with this question because it gives us the opportunity to find out what issues the homeowner is having that leads them to want the old insulation extracted before new insulation is blown in. Here are some of the issues we have been made aware of:

  1. A critter has gotten into the attic and messed up the insulation
  2. A roof leak allowed water to drip into the insulation for an unknown period of time
  3. A home inspection noted that the insulation was inadequate
  4. The insulation looks dirty

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these so we can understand the importance of extracting insulation before installing new.

 1. A critter has gotten into your attic and messed up your insulation.

Now, we have been told of bats, raccoons, possums, squirrels and mice getting into the attic and messing up the insulation. And by “messing up” we mean dislodging it, using it for nesting materials, defecating on it, urinating on it and shredding it (if we’re talking batt insulation). The problem here is that now, your insulation has been compromised. All of these incidents reduce the r-value of the insulation. Using the insulation as a bathroom creates health hazards because, as the waste products dry out and fall apart, microscopic particles are sucked into the duct system and are then dispersed throughout your house. In the case of the bats, bat guano is not something you want to inhale as it can lead to serious respiratory issues.

 Has a critter gotten into your attic and messed up your insulation?

So, is extraction necessary in this case…..Yes! It is important to protect your health and the health of those who live with you. Compromised insulation and contaminants need to be removed from the home.

2. A roof leak allowed water to drip onto your insulation for an unknown period of time.

Sometimes roof leaks go undetected for long periods of time, especially when the attic isn’t used or contains areas that are difficult to get to. The problem is, the more water that is dripping onto the insulation the greater the chances of mold developing. We all know that where moisture goes unchecked the likelihood of mold developing increases. Once mold develops, it can spread to a wider and wider area. Mold can grow on insulation as well as on the trusses and floor joists in the attic (or on batt insulation, floor joists and subfloors in crawl spaces). Once this happens, mold spores can become airborne and enter your duct system. Your duct system will then transport these particles throughout your house. You and your loved ones can then breathe them in. Some people are very sensitive to mold and can suffer then, from allergic reactions and respiratory issues that could take months for doctors to diagnose the causes of.

So, is extraction necessary in this case…Yes! Once again, it is important to protect your health and the health of those who live with you. This scenario identifies compromised insulation and we know that compromised insulation needs to be removed from the home.

3. A home inspection noted that your insulation was inadequate.

So, maybe you’re buying a home (new or existing) or you are refinancing and have to have a home inspection completed on this home. Once you get the home inspector’s report, it states that the insulation is inadequate. This simply means you need more insulation, right? Well, it does, but it doesn’t identify any potential issues the insulation may have. Now, if your report notates and mold or moisture issues in the attic or crawl space, this would identify a couple of potential insulation issues above and beyond simply not having enough insulation.

Your insulation has failed your home inspection

So, is extraction necessary in this case?  This one is a little trickier because we didn’t expressly state that the insulation was obviously compromised. So, how do we determine if the existing insulation should be extracted?

Our technicians look for signs that the insulation needs to be extracted. We look at the physical condition of the insulation. Is the insulation dark in color? Has it deteriorated? Has it been smashed down or compressed so that the insulating ability has been decreased? Is there evidence of air washing (this occurs when air moves through the insulation and leaves dark streaks of dust and dirt on the insulation). If the answers to any of these questions is “Yes”, then the insulation needs to be extracted.

4. Your insulation looks dirty.

You went into your attic (or crawl space) and noticed that the insulation looks dirty. You didn’t see any animal droppings or visible mold. But your insulation has a dirty appearance. It isn’t necessarily smashed down and it seems to be at a consistent level throughout.

So, is extraction necessary in this situation? Yes! I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m just saying “Yes” in this case because I want to extract your insulation. And while I do find extraction fun, the real reason I said the insulation needs to be extracted is because discolored insulation means you have excessive air infiltration occurring in your home. If your insulation is discolored (and not due to animal waste or mold), we’re looking at dust and dirt….and pollens and dander (if you have pets). All of these particulates can be sucked into your duct system and transported throughout your house for you and those living with you to breathe in. Listen, dirty insulation means your insulation is acting like a giant filter rather than an insulator. The best way for your insulation to actually insulate your home is to stop as much of the air flowing through it as possible. And that begins with extraction.

Now that you have some ideas on when your insulation needs to be extracted before new, clean, uncompromised insulation is blown in, how does your insulation look? If you need help in determining the condition of your insulation, we can help!

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