What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like
Written by Barrier Insulation

What Does Asbestos Insulation Look Like?

When it comes to asbestos, it rarely needs introduced at this point. The majority of homeowners need to be educated on the general danger of breathing and disturbing asbestos fiber. Older buildings and homes may have asbestos within products from hot water piping insulation to furnace insulation, even floor tiles. Typically, it is recommended to simply leave it as-is without disturbing it. Otherwise, hire a professional asbestos removal company.

However, there are loose-fill wall and attic insulation which can contain asbestos. If you’re insulation is the batt style insulation, as the loose fill insulation has the higher risk as it’s loosely poured into wall or joist cavities. You may also find thousands of loose particles within walls or under attic flooring. These are the insulation types that pose the most risk.

So, how do you identify if your attic insulation contains asbestos? Below we will discuss specifics about loose fill insulation which could contain asbestos.

Vermiculite Attic Insulation

Vermiculite attic insulation is the main source of concern with asbestos dangers, although asbestos is not in every brand. Vermiculite insulation alone is not dangerous, being a pellet style mineral, which expands with higher temperatures. In addition to building insulation, vermiculite is commonly used with gardening for loosening soil.

More specifically, vermiculite insulation which was mined in Montana by the Libby company is one to watch for. It was sold under the brand Zonolite, for about 70 years.

Because Zonolite had been contaminated with tremolite, it resulted in being a health hazard. Tremolite is similar to asbestos. About 70% of U.S. vermiculite attic insulation originated from the Libby mine, while 30% came from other sources.

Loose Fill Insulation Could Contain Asbestos If:

Your home was constructed prior to 1990. The Libby mine was closed down in 1990, meaning any homes that were built and/or remodeled prior to their closing date could have attic insulation containing asbestos. If your home was constructed after their closing date, it reduces the chance of asbestos containing insulation, but there’s still a chance overstock insulation was used a while after closing.

  • Zonolilte is often a silver-gold or gray-brown color, which is another way to identify the insulation particles.
  • Zonolite particles have an accordion style texture. This texture is the result of particles puffing due to heat.
  • Zonolite will lay flat against a joist cavity, and remain firm. Loose fill fiberglass often fluffs and appears more like a snow drift.
  • Zonolite is a lightweight mineral, and reacts with high temperatures that result in puffing particles.

Is Loose Fill Soft, Gray and Lack Shine?

If this sounds like what you have, it is likely cellulose insulation, which contains a higher amount of recycled paper, without minerals. A closer inspection indicates this gray puffy material has no minerals, but appears like gray shredded paper. This means cellulose insulation does not contain asbestos and is a safe insulation, blown into the cavities.

Is Loose Fill Fluffy and White, With Some Shine?

If this sounds like what you have, it is likely fiberglass fill. Due to being a byproduct of glass, it has some shine in light. The texture is fluffy, similar to that of cotton candy. When it comes to breathing, fiberglass can be annoying, and known to cause cancer.

Is Loose Fill Puffy, Gray and Fibrous?

If this sounds like what you have, it is likely rock wool, a mineral based loose fill. It is commonly found in fiber bundles, with a cotton style look. Rock wool comes in brownish white, off white, or white. Rock wool insulation is fabricated from belted basaltic rock and dolomite, with binders being added. Raw materials get exposed to temperatures up to 2,750 degrees Fahrenheit, making it melt. Then, fibers are spun from the molten material. It is common for rock wool to be found as a woven insulation batt or loose insulation. Similar to fiberglass, it should be handled carefully, but rock wool is not known to cause cancer.

What To Do If I Suspect Zonolite Vermiculite Insulation?

If you have loose fill insulation in your wall or attic that fits the visual aspects above, you can verify if it contains asbestos with a DIY asbestos testing kit. If you would prefer not to be around the insulation, to be on the safe side a commercial firm can be hired for testing insulation for asbestos. Generally, DIY kits can be purchased under $50, which may be a cheaper route.

In the event you find your insulation contains asbestos, it is best to locate an abatement company that has professional experience in handling asbestos removal, and never disturb the insulation. Although, asbestos removal is expensive, but if left it could cause many health issues for you and/or your family.

Phoenix Valley Insulation Removal

If you’ve got asbestos insulation in your property it poses a health hazard.  Barrier insulation provides insulation removal services in the Phoenix Valley and is an insulation installation contractor.  That means we can remove dangerous, damaged, or ineffective insulation and replace it with the highest performance insulation on the market.  From spray foam insulation to loose fill blown in insulation we will help you choose a cost effective and high performance insulation solution to help keep you comfortable all year long.

How To Remove Blown In Insulation
Written by Barrier Insulation

How To Remove Blown In Insulation

If you’re searching “How to remove blown in insulation” you’re likely a homeowner or general contractor this guide will help you. Loose fill or blown in insulation needs to be removed due to rodent damage, water damage, to make room for new insulation, or even to change to a new insulation type.  Another popular reason is when the attic space is being finished to become part of the livable area in the home.

Steps To Remove Blown In Insulation

To remove old blown in insulation from your attic or home you need to have the right tools, equipment, and prepare the work area. In addition, you’ll want to have the right safety equipment to protect your health.

1. Tools & Equipment Collection

Before you open up the attic you should have everything you need ready to start your job.  This will include a ladder, garbage bags, vacuum, tarp, and protective gear.  The protective gear you should have includes long pants and shirts, respirator, gloves, and goggles.  It’s important to protect your skin and lungs from the potential dust and old insulation.

2. Identify The Insulation

Before you go to filling up bags with old blown in insulation identifying what type you have is very important.  You can get an asbestos test kit to ensure your not dealing with something truly dangerous. Some older properties were insulated with asbestos insulation which has led to many cases of mesothelioma. Use your test kit to determine if you are dealing with asbestos and completely cease your project should it test positive for it. Call a profession insulation removal company to take care of this incredibly dangerous type of insulation.

3. Prevent Insulation or Dust From Spreading

Once you’re 100% sure you don’t have asbestos you can start by restricting the insulation to the attic.  Make sure your close all the doors inside the house and if there’s a doorway to the attic hang a heavy piece of plastic over it to prevent dust and other irritants from spreading into your home.

4. Create a Safe Workspace

Most attics that feature blown in insulation don’t have solid floors and may just have the ceiling joists with the insulation spread over it.  To make it a safer and easier environment to work in you should place wooden plants that are about 6 inches wide across the joists.  This makes it so you’ll be able to walk around the attic and get the work done.

5. Place A Tarp & Clear The Path

As you fill up the large garbage bags you’ll be carrying them outside and need a place to put them.  Lay the tarp on the ground and as you carry the bags out place them on the tarp.  Make sure before you start filling bags that the path from the attic and out the door to the home is clear of obstructions.  You want to be able to get the bags out of the home as easily and quickly as possible.

6. Put On Safety Gear

Before you climb up in the attic make sure you have your long sleeve shirt on along with long pants.  Put on your googles, gloves, and respirator and begin putting the bags, vacuum, and other tools you’ll need up into the attic. Make sure that as long as you’re in the attic and handling the insulation you wear all of your safety gear.  It protects your eyes, skin, and lungs from irritation.

7. Vacuum Out The Blown In Insulation

The next step is to vacuum up the blown in insulation.  You can use a wet/dry vacuum, or you can rent a HEPA industrial filtered vacuum.  If you use your own wet/dry vacuum you’ll need to stop periodically and empty the blown in insulation into your large trash bags.  This will mean a significant amount of particulates in the air which is why we stress the use of a respirator and other safety gear. If you opt for a HEPA industrial filtered vacuum the insulation and dust is first sucked into the system and then routed directly into large bags or a container outside.  The HEPA vacuum cuts down on your exposure to the insulation and how long it will take to complete the insulation removal.

8. Disposing of Blown In Insulation

Depending on the size of your attic or home there may be a large number of bags of blown in insulation to dispose of.  Call your city’s waste management number to find out more on how to dispose of your insulation in your area.  Avoid packing the bags into your vehicle as it will transfer the dust and unhealthy inhalation hazards into your car or truck.

Phoenix Valley Insulation Removal

Removing blown in insulation from your attic or home takes some time and some work.  If you don’t have the time, desire, or ability to take care of this project for yourself, Barrier Insulation is here to help!  We remove blown in insulation along with any other type of insulation you have in your attic, walls, or anywhere else in your home.  We can remove moldy, pest damage, sagging, or outdated insulation to make way for a newer more effective insulation solution for your property in the Phoenix Valley.

For more information about our insulation removal services please call 602-499-2922.