1957 Attic Insulation


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Old 05-12-14, 08:06 AM
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1957 Attic Insulation

Buying a home built in 1957 with limited attic insulation and poor circulation. I am going to address the poor circulation. It appears that some may have been removed or compressed severally in 50 years. I assume it would be asbestos. Can I just put blown-in insulation over the existing insulation? Should and how would I check if it is asbestos, or should I care? Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you.
 
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Old 05-12-14, 09:05 AM
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Unlikely you have asbestos in your attic but you may have vermiculite which can have a trace of asbestos in it depending which mine it came from. Treat all as if it's toxic unless testing proves otherwise. It's OK to lay batts or blown-in over the vermiculite as long as it isn't disturbed and the dust isn't inhaled as you work. If you DIY, wear a real respirator--not a 50-cent paper mask.
 
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Old 05-12-14, 09:31 AM
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It there are traces, do you see it presenting a problem to us in the home or if we decide to sell at a later date. If so, I would remove it now without putting additional insulation in, but would prefer not. Also, would it be worth it to have it tested before making a decision? Thanks again.
 
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Old 05-12-14, 09:45 AM
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First, what makes you feel it is asbestos? Pictures or a better description would help.

If it indeed looks like asbestos, better to test now and confirm y/n. If yes, IMO, it should go, both for your peace of mind and to remove concerns from future buyers. Having it properly removed will include the testing to prove you are clean.

But I have never heard the phrase "compressed" associated with vermiculite. But I'm not familiar with all forms of insulation and certainly not a pro on asbestos.

Once determined we can move forward.

Bud
 
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Old 05-12-14, 11:48 AM
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Should have taken pictures, but did not. Might be a few days before I can get over and in the attic to get a picture. By compressed, I just meant that it is between 1 to 2 inches in depth and looks to be dense. I live in Mississippi and the ventilation is non existent in the attic, two gable vents only. I did not want to disturb it, but assumed that moisture over time may have "compressed" it. I also just assumed that it might be asbestos. I have assumed a lot, but was hoping to be safe rather than sorry.
 
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Old 05-12-14, 01:59 PM
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Vermiculite looks like the light styrofoam dots inside a bean bag, almost. Extremely light and would fluff out of the way very easily. Google it for some pictures.

Yes, safe is better. I just saw a headline where they are increasing the requirements on lead in a home. Same has been true with asbestos. The sooner you get stuff like that removed the easier, before they go even more crazy then they have.

Bud
 
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Old 05-12-14, 04:59 PM
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Please, by all means, get it tested. Since you are talking a 1950's home and "compressed" I am more inclined to think you have rock wool insulation. Is it an elongated fiber and white or brown with little bits of black slag evident in it?

The slag would look like little dots of glass about the size of grains of coarse sand.

If rock wool you should be safe but a test is not expensive so start with that unless you can get some pictures posted.
 
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Old 05-12-14, 05:00 PM
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Well, now you did it, you used the A word. The rule is, if you think something may contain asbestos then it DOES contain asbestos until proven otherwise. The only way to be certain is to have it analyzed by a testing laboratory. Some area are VERY anal about any asbestos and require certified contractors to remove it. Depending on the amount, this could cost literally thousands of dollars.

That stated, other than vermiculite it is unlikely that the insulation does contain asbestos. The fact that it is only a few inches deep or seems to be compressed is meaningless since in that time period it was common to only add a few inches of insulation if any insulation at all was used. I'm also going to go out on a limb and state it is unlikely that you have vermiculite, or at least the asbestos containing variety as that came from Canada. You might have a waste wood product, here in the pacific northwest a product called Silva-wool (I think it was made by Weyerhouser) was common in the early to mid fifties and there may have been a similar product in your area.

Another insulation material was rock wool which is made from certain minerals and slag, I think from cement kilns. Similar is mineral wool which is made with slag from steel mills. The rock wool could have trace amounts of asbestos but the mineral wool, to my knowledge never had asbestos.

If you are really concerned you might want to pay an insulation contractor to take a look and give you his opinion.
 
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Old 05-13-14, 07:33 AM
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According to the EPA 70% of vermiculite installed from the '20s til 1990 came from an asbestos-containing mine in Montana.
I don't know about Canadian vermiculite--maybe it was the other 30%?
Current "guesstimates" say vermiculite may still be found in millions of homes. It was very popular.

That said--if you say it looks like asbestos then it's probably not vermiculite, which is a pour-in granular silver-grey product that looks nothing like other kinds of insulation. Post a picture when you can--I'm betting you have mineral wool which is safe.
 
 

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