Unknown brown batt filling in 1940s cape cod


Old 04-10-00, 12:00 PM
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Our cape cod, built in the late 1940s, is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The kneewalls and cathedral ceiling of the second story have roughly the same temperature as the outside when touched.

The insulation behind the kneewall consists of two batts tacked between the wall studs. The batts are encased in black paper and the filling consists of a brown mixture of powder and small fibers. The filling is crumbly, very lightweight, and becomes airborne very easily.

We want to improve the insulation but we are concerned that the existing insulation is trapping moisture. Removing the batts also concerns us due to the unknown filling that is easily airborne.

Any improvements ideas or risks?
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Old 04-10-00, 03:26 PM
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You should always be very careful of unknown substances. Old houses are full on them. Some harmful, some not. Of course, I cannot be sure without seeing it, but it sounds like horsehair insulation. Many older cap cods were insulated with horse hair. Usually the fibers are about 1/2" long or longer, usually put in batts as you described. However, you mentioned powdery
which puzzles me. If you want to remove it, do it with a shop vac, and wear a very very good mask. If it is horse hair, it will not hurt you. Good Luck

Jack the Contractor

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