Attic Insulation Removal – How to Remove Attic Insulation

Attic Insulation Removal Guide

Do you feel like your home just isn’t keeping in the warm air as well as it used to? Does it seem like cool air is easily escaping from your house?

This might be because of your attic insulation aging and losing its effectiveness. Furthermore, degrading insulation might tip you off to other hazardous substances that are contaminating your home like mold.

Just like anything else in your home, your attic insulation won’t last forever. If you think that it’s time to replace it, the first step is removal. While this can be a huge undertaking for homeowners, knowing the right procedures and precautions can make it a smooth process.

In this article, we’ll be going over everything you need to know about attic insulation removal and the proper steps to get it done effectively.

Should you remove old attic insulation?

Should You Remove Old Attic Insulation?

You should consider removing your attic insulation for the following circumstances…

First and foremost, mold. If you’ve had a roof leak or the condensation from your air conditioner dripped onto your insulation, it can hold the moisture for a long time and become a source for mold spores. Not only does this greatly reduce the insulation’s overall effectiveness, but it also puts you and your family in danger by proliferating mold in your home.

If your attic is infested with squirrels or other critters, there’s a chance that they’ve left urine and droppings in or near your insulation. These can be toxic and need to be removed immediately. Your insulation needs to be removed along with the droppings, as it’ll carry some of its toxicity if left in your attic.

Removing old insulation and replacing it with new ones will not only rid your home from any rodent infestation and mold, but also improve its energy efficiency and overall air quality. Once you see signs of degradation, it’s important to take initiative and start planning on insulation removal.

How long does it take to remove attic insulation?

How Long Does it Take to Remove Attic Insulation?

Depending on who you hire for your attic insulation removal – or if you choose to do it yourself – a typical procedure might take between 4 to 18 hours. 

Assuming your attic is about 1,500 square feet in size, hiring a professional team who are properly trained and are bringing the right equipment can take about 4 to 6 hours to remove your attic insulation. If you’re opting to do it yourself, you might find yourself working for about 6 to 18 hours.

These hours can depend on a few different things. The overall condition of your attic is probably the biggest contributing factor. The amount of debris, obstructions like pillars and pipes, the amount of leg space, the types of insulation being removed, the weather – all of these factors can greatly affect the time you or your contractors spend in the attic. 

If you’re going to remove the insulation yourself, you’ll probably benefit from chunking up the work. Getting a small area done and working your way through the attic will net you better results, though it will take much longer as we mentioned.

Attic Insulation Removal Basics

At this point, we’ve hopefully reinforced the fact that attic insulation removal isn’t a walk in the park. With that being said, it can definitely be DIY-ed if you have the right gear and take the right precautions.

The Essentials

Whenever you’re dealing with a tricky procedure like this, especially in an area like the attic, we’re always going to emphasize safety. That means you’ll need to invest in some protective gear to make sure this project can go off without a hitch.

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Gloves will shield your hands from any hazardous materials, and rubber-coated gloves work best. For insulation removal work, you’ll need at least a 95-rated mask to protect your lungs from any potential dust or mold.

The same thing goes for your eyes – buy reliable goggles or other eye protection that’s got anti-fog coating. As for clothing, investing in a good pair of coveralls will ensure your skin is completely safe from irritation and contamination. A hardhat wouldn’t hurt either since attics generally aren’t built with tall people in mind.

Finally, a flashlight is essential for being able to see what you’re doing. A headlamp will be even better, as it frees up your hands while illuminating your workspace.

Equipment and Supplies

Now that you know how to protect yourself and make life easier for working up in the attic, it’s time to discuss specific equipment and supplies you’ll need for attic insulation removal. While purchasing heavy machinery isn’t necessarily a requirement, it’ll definitely help cut down the time needed to get this done.

Pay attention to what type of insulation you have as well. Blown-in cellulose insulation is usually brown and gray material that crumbles when you pick it up. Fiberglass batt insulation comes in longer and thicker pieces and is used to cover larger surface areas.

A commercial-grade insulation removal vacuum is crucial if you want to get this done quickly. It’ll ideally run on a gas-powered engine and come with vacuum hoses, metal hose connectors, and large vacuum bags.

You’ll also need a ladder to get up into the attic, as well as a HEPA Filtered Shop-Vac and 50-gallon waste bags. Purchase rakes and dustpans if you have blown-in insulation. Having floor and wall coverings along with tape to secure it will be important as well.

Safety Precautions

Remember that not all attics are built to have multiple people walking around for long periods of time.

To make sure you’re keeping yourself safe, keep your eyes on the floor and make sure you’re stepping on floor joists only. If you step on drywall and put too much pressure on it, your foot might go through it, or even your entire body.

We mentioned wearing a hardhat if possible, and that’s because your roof might have protruding nails sticking out into the attic. Furthermore, old attics might be dusty and incredibly dirty, so investing in the gear mentioned above will keep you safe and clean.

How to remove attic insulation

Once you’ve got everything you need to properly remove attic insulation, it’s time to break down step by step how you’re going to pull this off. Depending on what type of insulation you’re trying to remove, the process will be slightly different. We’ll be outlining how to do each procedure.

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Blown-in Cellulose Insulation

Start by setting all of your equipment by your garage for easier retrieval. Clear out a space between your attic entrance and front door. Cover everything in that path as best you can with protective material.

Set up a ladder into your attic. Set up your commercial vacuum and extend the hose from your home into the attic. Place the HEPA filtered shop-vac, rake, and dustpan in the attic.

Put all of your protective gear on and have someone by the commercial vacuum to check it as you turn it on. Once it’s activated, go into the attic and start vacuuming the blown-in insulation. Use your rake to collect the insulation into the dustpan, and place it into waste bags.

Use the Shop-Vac to clean up any remaining insulation. Rinse and repeat until every area in your attic is free of old insulation. Make sure you take a break every 15 to 20 minutes to regulate your body temperature.

Once you’re all done, throw away all the waste bags filled with insulation into a dumpster. Get all of your equipment out of the attic and home. Carefully remove all of your floor and wall coverings and remove your protective clothing and gear in a safe area away from any family or furniture.

Fiberglass Batt Insulation

For fiberglass batt insulation, the set-up and vacuuming process is pretty much the same. The only difference is that you won’t need any rakes or dustbins to collect the insulation since you’ll be dealing with batt insulation.

Once you’ve covered your home with wall and floor coverings and connected a ladder to the attic, you’ll have to roll up all the insulation and place them into waste bags as needed. It’s at this point that you’ll use the commercial vacuum and Shop-Vac to clean the floor.

The rest of the clean-up process is the same. Remember the take breaks every 15 to 20 minutes here as well.

Attic insulation removal costs

How much your attic insulation removal costs will depend again on how big your attic is and the overall condition surrounding it. The cost to remove old attic insulation typically runs between $1 to $2 per square foot.

So, if you’re attic is roughly 1500 square feet, be prepared to spend between $1,500-$3,000 for attic insulation removal.

Should I remove attic insulation myself or hire a pro?

Now we get to the question of whether you should even bother doing this yourself or opting for a professional to clean out your attic insulation for you.

Depending on your comfort level with doing home improvement projects yourself, one might seem more attractive than the other. If you’ve never dealt with insulation, or if this is your first home improvement project, getting professionals to do it for you might seem like the move.

For those more comfortable with this undertaking, the cost-effective nature of a DIY insulation removal might be enough incentive. It’s also important to consider the safety of doing this yourself as well, as being careful not to take in any harmful substances or injuring yourself is something that only comes with experience.

Overall, getting a quote from an attic professional is a good first step. They’ll also be able to provide you with detailed insights and costs for adding new insulation to your attic to save energy and improve comfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use a Shop Vac to Remove Insulation?

Removing insulation from an attic can be a dusty and time-consuming job. One way to simplify the process is to use a shop vac. A shop vac is a powerful vacuum cleaner that can quickly remove large amounts of insulation.

However, there are some limitations to using a shop vac for this purpose. First, shop vacs are not designed for use with delicate materials like fiberglass, so care must be taken to avoid damaging the insulation. Second, shop vacs can only remove loose insulation; they cannot reach into tight spaces or remove stubbornly clinging debris. Finally, shop vacs generate a lot of noise, so it is important to wear ear protection when using one.

Overall, a shop vac can be a helpful tool for removing insulation from an attic, but it is important to be aware of its limitations.

How often should attic insulation be replaced?

When it comes to attic insulation, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The frequency with which you will need to replace your insulation will depend on a number of factors, including the type of insulation you have, the climate in your area, and the level of ventilation in your attic.

In general, however, most types of insulation will need to be replaced every 10-15 years. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures or if your attic is poorly ventilated, you may need to replace your insulation more frequently. Replacing attic insulation can be a bit of a hassle, but it’s important to do it regularly in order to maintain a comfortable home and keep energy costs down.

Find the right method and effectively remove attic insulation

Removing old attic insulation will improve your home’s energy efficiency once it’s replaced, while also protecting you and your family from dangerous substances such as rodent contamination and mold. Use this article to find the best course of action for removing your attic insulation.

Get a free attic inspection and quote to remove old insulation.