Removing fiberglass batts without fibers all over house
I've gotten very frustrated trying to air seal when there's already fiberglass batts poorly installed with rock wool on top. So much stuff is screwed up. Insulation is over electrical work, bathroom fan vents to the attic, the space above the stairs is just open into the attic...
It's driving me nuts that the existing insulation is there. I really want to rent an industrial vacuum and suck out all the rock wool, and find a way to get the fiberglass batts out too.
I know leaving the fiberglass there would help my total R value, but I'm going extremely slowly working around it, and think it would be way quicker to just remove it.
I've seen a few companies advertise online that they specialize in insulation removal, not to do it yourself because it gets fiberglass fibers all over the living space.
Is this a real concern, or something I can do myself? I'm figuring I could mist some water from a squirt bottle on the fiberglass, roll it carefully, and double garbage bag it. The only way I have to get it out is handing the bags to my wife through the attic hatch -- which is in the master bedroom. :(
My other idea is that with a strong enough vacuum, might be able to cut the fiberglass and suck it up, but I'm not sure a strong enough vacuum with a wide enough hose is for rent at H/D.
I'm going to look tomorrow, but I don't think the gable vents are big enough to let me throw garbage bags out through there...
I have a very similar situation, driving me nuts to have loose old and ineffective insulation in my attic. They do rent an industrial vacuum to remove insulation, not sure if it can break down batts.
Ultimately, for better or worse, I've decided the best bang for my time is getting the cellulose insulation in. I realize why air sealing is very important, and I'm going to do some where I can, but I'm going to live with not getting all of it. I'm just going to tackle the trouble areas - pipe penetrations, the vacant area above the stairs going to the basement, etc.
I can't get the batts out of my house any way but going down the hatch. The gable vents are too small to get garbage bags out, even if I took the vents apart. And my wife won't let me cut a hole in the side of the house.
I'm assuming it's possible to get them out of there through the hatch being careful, but risking contaminating our master bedroom and the rest of the house with fiberglass doesn't sound like it's worth it to me anymore.
... It is still driving me nuts though. :)
It will cost you over a $1.50 per ft from an insulation contractor to remove.
I assume this is an attic. If so if you have a gable end, cut a temporary open that can be replaced and resurfaced after insulation removal to get the stuff out without going through the house.
Roll up the batts (easier if they are faced) and tape them tightly before moving out. This can avoid the mess in the house except for what sticks to your Tyvek coveralls (about $2.00-$3.00).
Follow up with a vacuum to get rid of what you don't want left behind.
Then then foam and seal to your heart's content and follow up with blown in cellulose (with baffles/chutes of course).
It CAN be done ~
I'm doing the very same thing to my house, removing old insulation in the attic which is blown fiberglass over some existing batts. Also removing the old batts in the crawlspace too.
Here is MY regime ~
You MUST wear breathing protection! Not those silly paper breathing mask, but one of these -
Of course you will need goggles too.
For dust control (insulation & otherwise), if you have an attic fan turn it on while you working up there. This will keep the dust propagating toward the gables/vents so as to alleviate a fog or cloud scenario. If you do not have an attic fan, use a simple box fan mounted to the gable vent in order to establish an airflow such that dust has a means of escape. Some deck screws either side of the fan, and some bungee cord stretched between them would be enough to hold the fan in place. I'd do this at both gables if you could.
Bring some old scraps of wood (size to suit) to lay across the ceiling joist so you can sit on them and work comfortably. I would start from the farthest point from the hatch/opening and work back to it. That way your minimizing your "mileage" to and fro.
Use a leave rake to pull the loose fill stuff toward you. I like the smaller (narrower) rake as it allows me to control it better and apply ample downward force to work the material to me. In some cases a garden hoe may be needed to "break free" a piece of batted material.
I use 30 or 39 Gal. trash/lawn & garden bags. Just fill them to a point that leaves you enough room to squash all the air out and twist the top & tie into a knot. I can pass these through a 14" x 27" crawlspace opening.
Where I live, we can pay $4 extra per month for duplicate trash cans from our refuse service. I'm getting 2 extra (3 total) and will be eliminating a lot of stuff between now and Christmas for about 1/20th the cost of renting a dumpster.
Ryobi makes a reversible leaf blower (becomes a vacuum) ~
but for that to be a reality, you would need a lot of extension hose leading to a large covered drum or trash can. Also would need a few people to "work" the hose extension for you so it wouldn't kink or bind or just get in the way when you need to move backwards etc.
Personally, I don't subscribe to the wonderment of blown insulation unless there is just no other possible way to insulate a given space. I'd rather use batts and be able maintain my attic regularly without creating a fiberglass dust storm every time I go up there!
Also of worthy note ~ Mice (and whatever else) rather prefer the loose fill stuff they can easily burrow under as opposed to batts that are difficult to navigate through.
To minimize the fibers that make it back into the master bedroom thru the hatch I would do the following:
Hang some heavy poly from the top of the hatch down to about 8-10" off the bedroom floor to make a "chute". Then set a rubbermaid or similar containment at the bottom of the chute. Use a small fan in the area of the hatch to create a negative pressure so that any fine dust stays in the attic. Then I would use a hook or pole to ease the bags down the chute. Have a helper remove the bags from the containment.
Maybe block off the cold air intakes in the immediate area while the work is being done or turn off the furnace/AC. Once everyting is out, and cold air intakes are opened up run the furnace fan for a day with a fresh filter and see what you get.
Cannot say that working with fiberglass of any kind and for any reason is a fave project of mine but it I needed to roll up batts, tape them, stuff them in contractor's bags and drag them a bit through the house? I would not be overly concerned about leaving tons of fiberglass around if I had a good vacuum cleaner.
I think it a shame to toss the decent batt insulation unless it is an absolute mess up there in the attic. I would trim it better around fixtures or whatever if it concerns you but leave it in place and spray your new cellulose, treated cotton (made out of old levis) or whatever over the top.
Baby powder to plug your pores for the time you work with it and cheap, disposable TYVEK bunny suits with gloves and booties like mentioned will make the experience less nasty personally. And an aspirator should always be worn when sending fibers of any kind airborne.
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