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5 Easy Ways to Identify Old and Dangerous Insulation

By Chuck Henrichsen on July 6, 2017

Have you noticed your electrical bill spiking along with the temperature outside? Is your air conditioning unit struggling to maintain an even temperature throughout your home? If so, then your problem may be old insulation.

Old insulation will make your home increasingly less energy efficient, and can also cause other significant problems – including health related ones. Knowing when to remove and replace insulation will save you time, money and major headaches in the future.

how often should insulation be changed

Identifying Old Insulation in 5 Easy Steps

First things first, assess your attic’s insulation. Are there areas lacking sufficient insulation? Do you see evidence of water damage, stains or discoloration? Has the insulation fallen away from any sections of your outer walls? Any of these can point to insulation problems that may require replacement. If you are uncomfortable or unable to inspect the insulation in your attic, contact Clean Crawls for a free evaluation. We will not only inspect your attic, but offer you a quote on any replacement that needs to be done.

However, if you want to inspect your own insulation, here are a few tips and ways to identify old insulation.

 

1. Evidence of Water Damage

Water damage or any dampness in your insulation requires immediate replacement. There is no way to “fix” this without pulling the old insulation out and replacing it entirely. When doing so, be sure to check the surrounding wood and area for any water damage. After winter weather subsides, it’s a good idea to go up and check your attic for any evidence of damage. Moisture in your attic space can lead to mold and mildew, and also attract pests like termites and carpenter ants.

2. Evidence of Animal Damage

Have you heard scurrying up above you at night? When you walk through your attic crawlspace, do you see insulation that looks chewed or is gathered into nests?

Attics are a favorite nesting space for creatures like raccoons, squirrels, mice, and bats. Not only can these animals tear apart the insulation, their excrement is filled with bacteria – not something you want filling your ventilation spaces.

3. Evidence of Aging

Discoloration is a sign that the insulation is breaking down and is ready to be replaced. If the insulation has begun to fall away from the outer walls, or if there are gaps and holes in the insulation (especially around any windows or vents), then it is time to replace and refresh your insulation. Older homes especially may have insulation materials that are not as effective as modern ones, including shredded paper, sawdust and other things that begin as ineffective insulation and only become more so as time goes on.

4. Evidence of Dangerous Materials

Another problem that many older homes harbor are dangerous materials that can cause health issues for residents. Urea-formaldehyde and asbestos were both used as insulation in old homes, and both have been linked to significant health issues including cancer. If you suspect that your home is insulated by either of these materials, contact a professional asbestos abatement service immediately! Do not attempt to remove the old insulation yourself.

To help with identifying urea-formaldehyde and asbestos, look for the following: urea-formaldehyde is usually gray or yellow and brittle, while asbestos is found in vermiculite insulation, which looks like gray pebbles. Click here to read more about vermiculite and how to identify it, and click here to see a photo of urea formaldehyde foam insulation.

5. Evidence of Need For More Insulation

This is less critical than the previous issue, but if you find that your home is not maintaining a steady temperature – whether hot or cold – then there may be gaps or insufficient insulation in your attic. Other things that may be needed include vapor barriers to help with humidity, air sealing around vents and windows to help control temperature, and other improvements.

 

Replacing Your Old and Dangerous Insulation

Old, damaged or insufficient insulation can lead to a whole host of problems, so knowing how to identify it is important. We at Clean Crawls want to make sure that homeowners like you are able to get the most out of your home.

Removing and replacing your old attic insulation can be simple and straightforward, and can come at a fair price. Contact Clean Crawls today for a free and fair quote. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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Chuck Henrichsen
President and CEO of Clean Crawls, Treasurer of E3 World Wide, proud husband and father.

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