My husband and I bought a 1911 Georgian Revival a few weeks ago.  Because there is almost no insulation in the attic, we are getting several inches of TAP insulation blown in.  However, when a wildlife investigator was up in the attic today (because there is a chance a colony of bats was already in residence when we moved in!) he was coughing a lot and now he feels that the existing insulation has asbestos in it.


When we had the home inspected, the inspection report simply says, "Rock wool insulation".  I called the inspector today, and he said it's unlikely that there is asbestos in it - he's never heard of it - but we should really get it tested just to be sure.  (That is NOT mentioned in the inspection report).


I can't get a clear read on the web - most people seem to say that other than vermiculite, an attic is very unlikely to have asbestos in the insulation - but frankly the inspector et al have me filled with uncertainty.  Any thoughts are welcome!

Views: 5435

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Anytime one goes into an attic and stirs up years of dust there is going to be some caughing involved.  Asbestos in your attic is unlikely and it sounds like your wildlife inspector made a snap judgement on what it was without any basis for his decision.  Rock wool is strange looking stuff and holds a lot of dust that can be thrown into the air just by walking on it.  The only insulation made with asbestos I have ever seen is the grey paper they used to wrap around furnace ducts so if I were you I would relax. Remember your diagnosis was made by someone specializing in wildlife. 
I have rock wool in my attic (well at least in some of my attic floor). It has a TON of dust in it! It is a definate pain and I hate the stuff. After I get the wiring redone up there, I am going to put in open cell spray foam insulation on the attic floor, and either hire someone to vac out the rock wool or do it myself.  A mask is a must, since that stuff will cause a whole lot of coughing, just as Lair stated.

Martin, did you end up vacuuming out your old insulation?  I was considering doing mine, since it is soooo soo dirty, and replacing with new.  What was your experience like?

I have a couple options. I haven't done it yet since I haven't had the time or cash to buy some new roll out insulation (Spray foam would be the best, BUT it is SUPER expensive and would cost more to do than we bought our house for).


That being said, I am either going to:

A: Wear some kind of mechanic jumpsuit/wear mask, use my hands to get the bigger stuff or a small garden shovel (being careful not to hurt the plaster keys of course) into a garbage bag and just shop vac the smaller stuff up. Wearing a mask of some sort is a must just due to the large amounts of dirt/dust that end up being in your rockwool insulation.

Plan B: Call Stanley Steamer (the carpet cleaning ppl/duct work cleaning people) and have them give you an estimate on sucking out the insulation. They did all of our duct work, returns, etc and didn't charge a lot at all. They did good work too. They have this huge balloon looking thing outside by their van that acts like a vac bag, they run their hoses through your house, and they are done pretty quick. I think it cost about 100 bucks for our entire ductwork system. I am thinking that since the attic floor is pretty much open, and they basically just have a bigger shop vac they could do all the dirty work


So it depends on if you wanna save a few bucks and do a lot of coughing, or have someone else do all that while you hang out drinking ice water while reading a book.  Either way, you would get rid of the rock wool :) I hope that helps. Even new insulation will get dirty like that within a few years. just from hot air moving dirt around, stuff falling into the attic when they redo a roof, etc etc. I am redoing it since only half of my attic has the stuff, and since a lot of the floor wasn't covered, I had a lot of dead stuff (like birds) in my insulation :(

I love the Stanley Steamer idea!  Way better than sucking down animal/bird poop!  That poop IS dangerous.

Yeah that is another thing.. you really have no idea how many things have actually died up there over the years lol. It would be worth a shot. I am not sure what I am going to do just yet...I have so many projects going on at the same time I just kind of go in circles :)

Martin and Lyn, 

I am in the same boat, so it's heartwarming to hear I am not alone.  My only worry about sucking the insulation out is that I might not know what treasures are in there!  My electrician found about 200 original postcards dated 1891 when he was sifting through the insulation to put new wiring in.  He found several other interesting things, as well.  Sigh.  To your point about dead things and poop:  We KNOW that we have had squirrels nesting in that insulation for years.  That's one of the main reasons I want to replace it.  Like you, many projects and it is very overwhelming.  Take a deep breath and try to finish one at a time, if possible! (talking to myself, too!)

I did find some cool stuff in the attic so far.. a lot of it on top of the rockwool (the rockwool was added later, id say the 1920s or around that time..) 3/4 of the attic had no flooring so the area without a floor did get all the rockwool while the floored area just got a minor dusting. It looks like whoever had it done got ripped off lol I think they did just enough under the floored part to show the previous owner long ago that, Hey.. see I put some insulation back in there... when in reality there wasn't much at all where you couldn't see under the floor.

I found an old tobacco pouch up there, a tag from the wiring when they put electricity in our house back in 1917, and almost an entire roll of Sears colorfast wallpaper border from around the 20s that still looked brand new. Just poke around in there if you want to find treasures. Use a stick or something to shift the insulation around (while wearing a mask of course) and see if you can find anything. I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on house treasures!!!


Yep..projects all over the place! I need to really do some more repoint work on the exterior this summer. In this Ohio heat, I haven't really been outside too much. Taking a deep breath and getting stuff done as best/quick as you can is all you can really do :) I just need to make a few clones of myself and put them on different tasks lol

Same here.  I had to get rid of bad fiberglass batts and rock wool both this past fall in my attic storage area, and found out that a previous owner had laid down newspapers from October 1941 in the eaves under the rock wool as a vapor barrier!  I spent more time reading and photographing those papers than I did scooping out the insulation!  I saved some of the papers (all about World War II jitters), but I have no idea what I'm going to do with them.

When I cleaned out my insulation, I got a Tyvek suit with built-in hood and booties, gloves, EPA mold-rated face mask, and sealed goggles on line.  And a head lamp at Lowe's.  For what I was doing, it was a lot cheaper than hiring someone in.

If you have the kind of insulation with asbestos in, it will look like little gray worms.  Which is why it's called Vermiculite.  Rockwool is gray and fluffy.  And yes, can set up coughing in the susceptible.

Vermiculite is a totally different animal. My sister in law had some of that in her 50s ranch house attic floor. I think my rockwool is white and fluffy (kind of like cotton). I like your idea about finding those suits online with all that gear. I wasn't even thinking of going that far and just use a mask. But I may do it your way. Some people say I should just hire that out, but deep down I would rather spend the money on something else since I know I could do it just fine myself. But I only have 1/4, if that, of my attic floor filled with rockwool.


I would keep the newspapers!!! That is totally cool!   I found some pieces of newspaper that got stuck under a part of a floor board that was taken up in 1931 to add more cold air returns. :)



Get Connected:

Follow Us on Twitter We're on Facebook!



© 2018   Created by Community Host.   Powered by

Old Houses | Restoration Products  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service