Although many older homes have no insulation at all, some of these houses do have a layer of material helping to guard against unwanted air infiltration. Over the years, exposure to moisture, compression from stored items and excessive heat within the attic may cause that old insulation to deteriorate. With professional assistance from Essex County roofers, homeowners can learn when the old insulation needs to be replaced and how the removal process will work.
Houses built before the 1970s often lack sufficient insulation based on today's standards established by the U.S. Department of energy. The most common insulating materials that these structures contain include air barriers made from plastic sheathing or cardboard, topped off with some silicate fibers or a couple of inches of fiberglass. Old silicate based insulation might also contain asbestos, so owners should not attempt any removal of the old insulation themselves. This work is best left to professionals who have the proper respiratory and protective gear to do the work safely.
The first situation in which old insulation should be taken out of the attic space is when it has become wet. A roof leak is the most common reason why insulation would be saturated with water. Attics without enough air flow may also have condensation problems, which can cause insulation to get damp.
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Saturated insulation needs to be removed as it will facilitate rotting of the attic's ceilings, walls and floors and eventually cause the roof to fail.
Another reason to remove old insulation is if it has been infested with insects or rodents. Termite and carpenter ant infestations are common problems. These wood destroying insects chew through organic materials and live within them. Their tunneling activities weaken the wood to the point where it may no longer be able to support the roof's weight. Roofers might notice small piles of material that looks like sawdust. This is the remnants of the ants' or termites' activities. Mice, squirrels and birds could also gain access to the attic and build nests in there over the winter.
Insulation should also be removed if it has deteriorated so much that it is no longer effective. For foam board insulation, flaking chunks or holes in the material suggest that it needs to be removed. Loose fill that has been compressed or scattered may also need to be professionally replaced. In some cases, fiberglass or blown in insulation that has been compressed to less than half of its original height can be topped with new fiberglass or additional loose fill.