Should I remove my attic wood chip insulation?
You bet it’s a good idea to remove wood chip insulation and upgrade to a new material. If you have wood chip insulation, it means you’re faced higher energy consumption by its presence and you will experience less comfort. For these reasons, it is a good idea to remove it and replace it with contemporary insulation.
If you have had condensation issues and the insulation has been affected by mould or other health issues, then it is mandatory to remove it. If you are short on attic space for new insulation, then it would be advisable to remove it and replace it with a higher performing product. Some people just aren’t comfortable knowing it’s there and remove it regardless.
Hugh Cairns insulation tip – “Many of us tend to think ahead and consider the impact of our present actions on the future. Adding attic insulation to your home – particularly for an older home that lacks sufficient insulation – can increase the home’s value”.
Removing attic wood chip insulation
Some people may be tempted to leave the wood chips and insulate over the top of them but that can result in future complications.
You can remove wood chip insulation yourself, but I don’t recommend it. Unless you have the right equipment, it is way more trouble than what it is worth. Horsing around with a shop vac in the attic isn’t fun, plus you’ll have to empty it every couple of minutes. Small vacuums are noisy and their exhaust ports can stir up phenomenal amounts of dust.
On top of operating the equipment that you’ll have to Billy Goat your way through the attic, standing on the bottom of the roof trusses, be aware that while you’re hunched over, you’ll have to avoid sharp nails that penetrate the roof sheathing.
Hugh Cairns wood chip insulation removal tip – “The best way to remove attic wood chip insulation is to hire a qualified insulation contractor that has an industrial sized vacuum to remove the wood chips. They are used to navigating attics and are experienced in how to avoid safety hazards”.
After the wood chip insulation is gone, draft proof around all ceiling penetrations. If you are adding recessed ceiling mounted light fixtures, make sure that they are fire-protected, CSA-approved fixtures. Now you’re ready for some new insulation.
Wood chip insulation and knob-and-tube wiring
Removing wood chip or sawdust insulation can be complicated should knob-and-tube wiring be present. If you find knob-and-tube wiring, be concerned about the validity of your residential insurance policy. A number of insurance companies may not insure your home if it is present. Installing insulation around knob-and-tube often results in a dangerous alteration. For these reasons, the wiring should be disconnected and removed before you reinsulate. If you find knob-and-tube wiring, hire an electrician to inspect and evaluate it.
Attic ventilation and wood chip insulation
The common trait that I see with wood chip insulation and attic ventilation is that they both perform inadequately. There are a host of important benefits of a properly ventilated attic. Adequate attic ventilation reduces cooling bills, extends shingle life, prevents roof rot and ice dams in winter.
My best advice to you is to hire a ventilation contractor to assess and quote your needs. Increasing ventilation is usually not expensive. It’s mostly a few dollars on materials and more on labour. Even if you want to do this work yourself, call in an expert. Increasing ventilation can be a nasty job, done in a dark, cramped, dusty space.
Read more About the House - Hugh Cairns articles
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