How Do You Know Whether You Should Remove Insulation?

February 16, 2015

Here’s a mystery: Something lurks behind your walls. You rarely pass a day even thinking about it. But it essentially surrounds you. It keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is not your walls or your ceiling. You can’t see it – only in the worst of disasters or during major home renovations. But it may be harmful to your health.

So what is it? It’s the insulation in your walls and attic. And, depending on its type and when it was made, you just may want to tell it to go. Or, best of all, call us at Capitol Machine to serve the eviction notice for you.

How do you know whether the insulation in your walls and attic is safe or dangerous?

Look for Warning Signs of Asbestos-Contaminated Vermiculite Insulation

The U.S. EPA sets certain standards and establishes warning signs primarily to identify asbestos-contaminated vermiculite insulation, which should be removed by a professional contractor.

Vermiculite looks likes shiny flakes, which resemble mica. When heated, vermiculite can expand nearly 30 times in size. In its expanded form, it is light-weight and fire-resistant.

A Libby, Montana mine produced more than 70 percent of the nation’s vermiculite between 1919 and 1990. Near the mine was a deposit of asbestos, which contaminated the vermiculite. This vermiculite was used in most of the home insulation projects in the United States during that time and was sold under the brand name of Zonolite. (The EPA banned asbestos use in the late 1970s but in 1991 later partially lifted the ban to less than 1 percent use in insulation.)

The EPA states that if homeowners have vermiculite insulation in their walls and attics, their homes are probably contaminated with asbestos and urges them to take precautions and institute protective measures.

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to cancer and other diseases, federal health authorities have said, and any exposure to asbestos can pose severe health risks, especially of developing lung diseases. The airborne asbestos fibers cause risks through inhaling. Experts urge homeowners against disturbing exposed insulation material suspected of containing asbestos.

Here are several tips from the EPA in addressing a possible asbestos contamination.

Hire an Asbestos Contractor If Your Are Renovating with Vermiculite


  • Leave vermiculite insulation undisturbed in your attic or in your walls.
  • Do not store boxes or other items in your attic if it contains vermiculite insulation.
  • Do not allow children to play in an attic with vermiculite insulation.
  • Do not attempt to remove the insulation yourself.
  • Hire a professional asbestos contractor if you plan to remodel or conduct renovations that would disturb the vermiculite in your attic or walls to make sure the material is safely handled and/or removed.

As a blown-in installation blower and vacuum manufacturer, we can help you – for the sake of your property, your home and your health.

While most modern homes today have been built with cellulose insulation, which is more than 75 percent recycled paper fiber, fiberglass and rock wool, contamination with asbestos in vermiculite insulation remains a serious matter, especially in older houses and buildings. We take your concerns as seriously as you do.

Did you find this blog helpful? Capitol Machine offers a wide variety of insulation machines, insulation blowers and insulation removal vacuums. We also have the expertise to make your work safe and productive. Give us a call or use our contact form for more information.