Insulation is supposed to last a long time when properly installed and when it doesn't encounter anything strange or destructive. However, the chances of the insulation eventually encountering a nemesis are pretty good if you wait long enough. From age to insects, insulation can sustain damage that is hard for you to see until you discover clues that something has gone wrong in the home.
These clues can range from obvious issues like a leaking roof to less obvious problems like the potential composition of the insulation based on house age. Whatever the issue, there are times when waiting and seeing just won't cut it. Here are times when you absolutely do need to remove the insulation you currently have.
Battling Water Damage
If your house has sustained water damage, either from a leak or a flood, the insulation in that area has to be changed out if it is made from a material that is prone to mold. For example, fiberglass insulation does let mold grow in the presence of moisture. So, if you've had a flood, for example, the insulation in the walls needs to be changed.
You should also consider changing the insulation in the upper portion of the home even if the flood was limited to only a few feet off the ground.
Longer floods, where the water may have stood in your house for days, can create very humid conditions that penetrate the entire house. Combined with the possibility that the floodwaters damaged the structure of the house and let more moisture into the walls, the possibility that the roof and upper stories sustained moisture damage may be greater than you realize.
It's not a good idea to leave that insulation in the roof or other areas of the house because you don't see visible damage. Mold can form inside the insulation, and it can form after you fix all the walls and hide the insulation from sight. It's best to strip out the old insulation completely.
Discovering a Pest Infestation
Not every pest infestation means you have to remove your insulation. However, certain types of infestations point toward removal more than others. Fiberglass can attract rodents, so if you've had a noticeable rat or mouse infestation, you may want to have the insulation inspected at the very least, and removed if it looks like there may be droppings left in there.
If you have carpenter ants and also know that your house has rigid foam insulation, then that insulation needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, carpenter ants love rigid foam insulation and will try to live in it. They often succeed, too.
Look for insulation types, such as blown-in cellulose, that is rated as resistant to pests. You'll have to ensure the blown-in insulation is definitely rated by the EPA, though, as not all brands treat the insulation and get that rating.
Finding Mold from Humidity
Even if there have been no floods, humidity alone is enough to start a little mold colony in your insulation. If you have excessive humidity in your home, say from people taking very hot showers or cooking for a long time, and your insulation is old, you should replace it. Obviously you can't do that yearly, but again, if you know the insulation is old, it's time to look at getting a new type that is mold-resistant.
Considering Age and Advancements
Speaking of age, even if you have not had problems (or think you haven't), very old insulation should be removed because the materials used to make the insulation back when it was installed may be considered dangerous today. Asbestos is a common material used in insulation from the mid-20th century.
If you own a mid-century home and think the insulation has never been changed, you need to call in an asbestos remediation company for testing, and then get the insulation safely removed. If no asbestos is present, the insulation may still be so old that it's just not effective anymore, though you might not have noticed because you're used to how well (or poorly) it insulates.
If you want to get rid of old insulation and have new material added to your home, call Insulation Pros. We can remove the old insulation safely and install new insulation that meets your needs.