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Reuse Blown Insulation from Demolitions and Renovations

Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3510
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
Loose fill insulation products often need to be removed when homes are demolished or renovated. It is quite simple, comfortable and safe to bag this stuff up for reuse. Fiberglass and cellulose are the two best candidates for reuse.

The process.--- 1. Wear the proper safety equipment. Your most important item is the mask. Get a good quality asbestos grade mask. The ones with a face mask or goggles are best. Insulation can get in the eyes and there are lots of pokey things in dimly lit attics.

A full face mask like mine in the photo will also be great whenever you use a grinder, a concrete breaker or any number of saws and other dust producing equipment.

A good mask will cost between $125 and $250. It will last for hundreds of uses and in the long run it is cheaper than using worthless disposable masks that simply don't work. --- If you can't afford good equipment then your building activities should be restricted to internet forums until you can.

I will show the most effective way to gather and bag the insulation tonight. I'll be wearing the suit pictured below. At the end of the day I'll be perfectly clean and not itchy. And I'll be breathing air which is cleaner than that of most office buildings.

A simple tip --- If your mother could tell that it's you in there, you need to cover up better.

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kent smith

Joined: Sep 05, 2010
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
Dale, saying that the air is cleaner than most large office building is not saying much! lol.

Kari Gunnlaugsson

Joined: Jun 22, 2011
Posts: 308
Just for those few who might not know... the old vermiculite type of blown insulation was often enough contaminated with pretty scary amounts of asbestos and could be a real health risk in a house.

Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3510
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
If there is vermiculite I don't salvage anything that has come into contact. About 50% of houses with vermiculite have asbestos, usually between .25% and 1.5%. A $10,000 demolition can go up to $25,000 if the whole attic is covered.

I knew two old guys who took on the demolition of a school. They failed to put in a toxic substances clause in their contract and went bankrupt due to large costs from asbestos clean up. They were in their mid sixties and ready to retire.
Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3510
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada

1.These stretchy bags can be used over and over. The bags must fit through the hatch in the new location. Tie them as you would tie shoes so they can be untied. Always pull protridomg nails that have been installed near the hatch and get rid of anything else that could rip the bags.

2. The most comfortable position in a low attic is to kneel on a thick piece of dense memory foam placed on the wood framing. Or a scrap of plywood could be placed over the wood and a low stool used. A big dust pan or a piece of panneling cut 2 inches narrower than the framing members works to scoop up material. Long handled devices will bang into everything in tight spaces. Light bulbs are the first victim of long handled tools.

3. In houses without electricity, I use a 50 watt 12volt light in the attic. In goes for over 20 hours per charge when a deep cycle battery is used. This photo was taken at night in a home where that bulb provided the light. The trick when working is to never look at the lit bulb. Eyes quickly adjust to the available light

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Dale Hodgins

Joined: Jul 28, 2011
Posts: 3510
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
The house I'm currently working on has ground up bark as insulation. This house was built around 1880. The blown cellulose was added much later. I've encountered about 20 houses with bark insulation.

This wasn't a poor man's solution. Most of the homes that contain bark insulation are upscale. This ocean front home belonged to one of our wealthier citizens. The home will soon be transported to a new location by barge.

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subject: Reuse Blown Insulation from Demolitions and Renovations
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