attic insulation & cleanup


Old 01-11-19, 01:01 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 31
attic insulation & cleanup

guys i live in the northeast in a 100 year home with a crawl space attic which also houses my combo heating/cooling central AC unit. 6 months ago we got the roof replaced and the installer never told us the attic will become a big mess. We have old insulation the attic floor but with so many people haven gone there for hvac work and installing my bathroom exhaust fans, some of it is coming out. After the roof work, the debris is all over with nails, small pieces of shingles, etc because they ripped out my 100 year old slate. I guess all the dirt/dust is also bad for the hvac unit. I'd like you folks to validate my plans

- first get a professional to install closed cell spray foam between my rafters. The roof has a cobra ridge vent so guessing they'll have to leave that untouched so that the attic is ventilating itself
- after that, get an attic cleanup company come in - is there a standards body for this that recommends licensed contractors for this?
- lastly, call the hvac company to seal the entire hvac assembly and also install a humidifer - in the cold months, the humidity falls to 20% because this old home has walls that aren't insulated

Sponsored Links
Old 01-11-19, 02:57 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 18,581
What type of roof do you have now? Normally you do not insulate the roof rafters. Your insulate the attic floor (ceiling joists) so the attic remains as cold as possible to avoid ice dams.

Removing the old insulation is grunt work. Not really "contractor" or other skilled labor. You just need willing bodies to do the dirty work. One big issue will be access. How will the workers get the large volume of material out of your attic? If it's a scutty or stair within the home expect a LOT of mess and dust unless you are willing to pay for a remediation company or someone willing to go to those lengths. Otherwise you might consider leaving the insulation in place. The good thing about dust and dirt is once it's settled that's pretty much where it will remain until disturbed. Things are stable now but you'll be stirring all that up in a major way if you try removing it.

If wanted or needed you can have new fiberglass blown in on top to restore the R value. This will also help trap the dust and dirt from previous work. Insulation though will bury the joists so any future work on your HVAC may require making another mess. One option is to have a elevated catwalk constructed leading from your attic access to the HVAC so you can access the machinery without having to dig through or disturb the insulation. In my attic I have catwalks about two feet above the ceiling below. This allows room for the insulation and work can be done in the attic without compressing and disturbing it.
Old 01-11-19, 03:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 266
A couple of months ago I removed batt and blown in insulation at my cabin. The batts were pretty easy, just wad them up and shove them in Hefty sacs. The blown in I rented an insulation vac which worked pretty good but it was clumsy moving the hose around. I also used it when removing the batts as a device to sort of depressurize the attic so dust and such wouldn't fall through any holes/access in the ceiling. That worked great, not a whiff of anything in the living space. Bag's were bought on Amazon for half the price. Was quoted upwards of $2k. My total cost was around $350 and some sore knees. You'll need three to do it. One at the machine to watch for anything and two in the attic to help each other. You'll have to pick up anything lager than the hose (4") but that wasn't too difficult.

Edit: I also bought Tyvek suits, and some 3m Faceshields/filters. Didn't even have to shower when I was done.

Last edited by Tumble; 01-11-19 at 03:20 PM. Reason: Safety Equip
Old 01-11-19, 05:16 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 31
With your post Iím beginning to consider whether this cleanip
and re-insulation is even worth it. Is there any harm to leaving the dust and debris there forever, will it possibly cause mold or attract rodents?

also is there a way to test how well the insulation is doing right now

Im also guessing that if the hvac is properly sealed then it should really make no difference if the attic is dirty or clean
Old 01-11-19, 07:12 PM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 266
I did it for 2 reasons. First, the insulation was so old and compressed over the years that it was essentially useless. Second, we had animals (chipmunks/squirrels/rats/etc) make their homes up there in the past so it allowed us to clean up all their cr*p and u*ine soaked insulation out of there. Also, found a dead chipmunk and rat up there.

After cleaning it all up, it was very easy to go around and seal all the holes, repair any electrical that was needed. With your HVAC up there it's a great time to have it gone through completely for any issues at all, maybe re-secure/slope a drainage line, seal all the boots. Techs (or yourself) do much better/detailed work in a clean work enviro.

Clean makes it nice to work up there. Then as Dane mentioned, very easy to build yourself an adequate walkway to your HVAC without all the insulation in your way.

Old 01-12-19, 03:57 AM
Marq1's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 3,108
Is there any harm to leaving the dust and debris there forever
Short answer no issue leaving it, it's been there for how long to date?

Adding a layer of fiberglass or cellulose will encapsulate it, restore R value and your done!
Old 01-12-19, 08:24 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 31
Ideally I'd want everything super clean in my house, even the attic but trying to understand cost/benefit - costs not just in terms of dollars but time usage, getting kids out of the home for the weekend, cleanup effort, etc

Insulation was put in the attic 5 years ago, the roof was replaced a year ago. No sightings of animals in the attic - we never hear anything. Also the entire attic has long pieces of plywood that you can crawl over - is that the catwalk you are referring to?

The main question is - what are the long term drawbacks of maintaining a dirty attic - does it harbor or encourage rodents to come and settle in - hopefully they can't because we put steel mesh on the two vents but guessing rodents can always find their way. I want to compare that to closed-cell insulation between the rafters as I hear so many bad things with it - ice dams, reducing life of the so expensive roof, etc. I never have to access the attic apart from changing the air filter and for that I don't even have to get fully in the attic. Just a ladder from the bedroom to the attic entry and the hvac entry is right there


Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes