House built in 1968, concern about attic insulation, re:asbestos!

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Posted by: from Oakville
1/2/2012 at 9:59:08 AM

Good morning, how do I determine if the loose blown insulation in my attic contains asbestos? Also with regards to improving my R rating and insulating the attic, what would you suggest is the most cost efficient and recommended choice, loose blown in insulation or rolls or bats of pink insulation laid across existing insulation?

Thanks Brian Oliver

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Date/Time1/2/2012 at 11:39:11 AM

Hi Brian,

We determine asbestos in homes by bringing in an expert air quality inspector first.

As for insulating your attic the cheapest is loose blown in fibreglass. This is not the best in our opinion. Fibreglass breaks down over time and the particles that blow around aren't the best things to be breathing in.

What we recommend for cost savings is top up existing insulation with cellulose to an R50.

I you want the healthiest solution it would be to completely remove all existing insulation and use spray foam as an air barrier and moisture barrier then top up with cellulose.

Every home is unique and there is a right solution to each. It's not all about insulation, but comfort, health, and longevity of the solution.

I hope this helps you.


Eco Insulation

House built in 1968, concern about attic insulation, re:asbestos!
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Date/Time1/2/2012 at 12:43:50 PM

You can get the materials tested. Go up in the attic, wear a mask. Take three samples of the material from three different areas. Dig down deep and get a cup full and put it in a zip lock bag (3 bags, 3 samples).

I'm not sure where you are writing from, but in the Hamilton area I have heard that you can get your samples tested at McMaster University I heard the fee is about $80 and will take a few weeks to get the results. Alternatively, just google "asbestos testing" in your area. There are all kinds of businesses that do it.

When you ask about the most cost effective way to insulate your attic, that can be interpreted in different ways. There are as many ways to do it as there are opinions. First, if you google it and spend some time reading you will learn a lot quickly. Here are a couple of suggestions, starting at the top of the list:

You could get whatever is up there removed. Then have 1.5" of high density spray foam spayed in (have to have the pros do this). The spray foam will seal the attic floor 100% and provide a complete vapour barrier. This will give you about R10. Then top it up with conventional insulation. you can lay bats, or blow in loose fill. Do some research on the blown-in options.

Alternatively, you can lay down more batt insulation. Lay it in a criss-cross pattern so you overlap all seams.

Having blown-in is also a good way to top up what you already have.

As I mentioned, go on line and read up on it.

Make sure you have adequate ventilation in the attic. You will have to ensure this before the insulation work is done. Read up on this or get advice from the insulation companies, or wherever you buy the insulation.

I just winterized a garage in Burlington. I had 1.5" of Walltite spray foam applied to the attic floor by an installer. Then I topped it up with batt insulation and now have almost R50 up there. The foam provided a perfect vabour barrier and a the first R10 worth of insulation. I did the walls with Roxol and drywall. Now a simple 4000 watt heater heats the 400 sq ft garage. Last week it was -7C and within 30 minutes of turning on the heater I was working in my t-shirt.

Good Luck.

Tom Goodfellow

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