Should I remove old loft insulation?

We often get asked when a customer is installing loft insulation whether they should get the old insulation removed. We wanted to provide you with a comprehensive answer to this question, so here are the key points!

Is new insulation more efficient?

Generally speaking, if you are installing conventional rock or sheep wool insulation, there will be little difference between the thermal performance of the new and old insulation. Even old newspaper insulation will still keep much of its thermal properties, so unless you need to remove the insulation for other reasons, it isn’t worth taking the insulation out for efficiency reasons alone. Further, old loft insulation will not biodegrade when put in landfill, so throwing it away is not very environmentally friendly.

If you have old paper based loose fill insulation, it may be a fire hazard, and as such you should look at getting it removed. Some people want to remove their fibre glass insulation also, either because they are allergic or because they don’t want to breathe in the fibres when they are using the loft. There are clearly reasons why you would want your insulation removed, but efficiency isn’t one of them.

Can you lay new insulation on top of old?

This is typically the way insulation gets installed. Unless there is good reason to remove the old insulation, the new is simply laid on top. If the old insulation is to joist depth, the new can be laid cross ways, to help reduce the effect of any gaps between the strips of old insulation.

Is it dangerous to remove the old insulation?

Fibre glass and rock wool insulation are irritants, and you don’t want to be breathing them in at all. If you are removing the insulation, make sure you have a mask and a hat to keep the fibres out. A change of clothes after installation is also advisable.

There isn’t really an easy way to remove the insulation, and we advise that you get a professional company to do it, but if you must do it yourself, you will need to hire a skip, as the dustman will not take the insulation away for you.

Free insulation schemes and removing loft insulation

As you may be aware, there are many free insulation companies out there, and if you are using one of these companies to install your insulation, there are a few things you should be aware of. These companies get paid depending on how much insulation is currently in the loft. If they ask you to remove the current insulation, or indeed offer to do it yourself, they could be committing fraud – as they will make more money when the loft is clear.

So the conclusion is, don’t remove loft insulation unless there is a real need to do so – adding insulation on the top will do the job perfectly. Removing the insulation is potentially hazardous and we advise professional removal if there is a need to do so.

Installing loft insulation

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