Removing the Attic Insulation

Category: Do it Yourself

This was the most trying weekend ever at the house.

The Problem

Our big project was to tear out the "Raccoon Family Nests" and attic insulation, disinfect the crawl space, open up the front bedroom ceiling and put in new insulation. The raccoons left a lot of, um, "unpleasantness" from years of attic living. Plus the insulation was in four layers and had gotten wet from roof leaks.

We begin by...acting silly for the camera.

More problems? The space we were working in was 3.5 feet high at the peak. (We are 6'7" and 5'7") With evil looking roofing nails poking through and SPIDERS. Unbearably hot in the outfits we had to wear to reduce the risk of contact with "raccoon matter."

We wanted to prevent insulation and contaminents settling on the second floor as well.

Our Solution
Layers of heavy plastic across doorways to isolate the hallway from the rest of the house. And closing the door at the bottom of the stairs.

Suiting up, "haz-mat" style. (See list of materials used below). Sending the shorter of the two of us (me, of course) to do the harvesting and stuffing. A was responsible for the bleaching of the first bag and the double bagging.

Light was a key element. We used halogen lights to increase visibility.

We used boards and plywood to spread our weight across many joists.

We double bagged the material after spraying the first bag with bleach (to kill germs). Tied it up. Then lowered each bag through a front window so it could be disposed of properly.

How it Went
Not bad, I guess, in that we did get quite a bit done. We didn't expect so much sawdust and wish we had a way to easily vaccum particles out of the attic. By pulling on the sawdust and tar paper layer, I could roll up each piece between the rafters. Many times, though, the insulation was too fragile or had electrical cable laying across it.

The raccoon souvenirs were as nasty as could be imagined. Thank goodness for thick rubber gloves. And thick rubber (washable!) garden shoes from Target...$18.99.

We still have about halfway to go , so next weekend will be another tough one. Especially since we--make the "I"-- will have to get into the smaller part of the attic on my stomach and move far away from the opening. No quick escape. *Shiver*

Let's just say we wouldn't wish this on anyone, but it will be good when it's done.

We had to get the haz-mat stuff off and into a bag while we were still on the second floor so that it could travel to the basement for a special disinfectant wash.

Tools & Materials We Used

- 2 halogen lights
- two extension cords
- 1.3 mil "contractor quality" garbage bags
- Clorox spray starch
- A razor cutting knife
- two respirator masks
- two full-body painter suits
- heavy duty rubber gloves
- head socks
- arthritis strength Tylenol...ow. My back. My legs.
- chutzpah or desperation, we don't know which

Next time we'll wear baseball caps (one more layer of protection against scratchy roofing nails) and tie the cutting knife around a wrist or waist. We lost one in a roll of insulation that got stuffed. Ah, well.

Looking for More?

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Hi guys- I can really sympathize with you on this project! Here's a word of advice as well, but it doesn't look like you'll need it, judging from the "Haz-Mat suits" you're wearing: Never wash anything that has come in contact with fiberglass insulation in the washer or put it in the dryer. You'll spread glass fibers all over everything else you wash, and when that is something like a towel, it can be mighty uncomfortable! Cheers!

We are about to put on the same outfits this weekend when we demo our kitchen. Just know you are not alone!

Let me just say that that sounds AWFUL. Really really gross. Thanks for being honest about what home reno work can really be like. But, despite that, it'll certainly be worth it if you can put a raised ceiling in the bedroom: that will be awesome!


Great advice! We also hung them up to air dry...looked like long underwear made out of paper. I'm sure our neighbors were curious.

Jocelyn--How did it go? It IS good to know we aren't alone.

LisaB--Some days, I wish being honest didn't require me to be such an Eeyore!


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