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Cleaning the attic and crawlspace, for the first time in 70 years.
~mike gradziel.
Enthusiastic at owning a home for the first time, I resolved immediately that I would not stand to have a cluttered attic of unknown condition hanging over my head. Who knew what wiring hazards, insects, critters, and so forth might lie beneath that accumulation of mineral wool, cellulose fluff, fiberglass, splinters of wood, asphalt grit, roofing nails, sawdust, other kinds of dust, and bits of asbestos paper. I had a licensed asbestos abatement contractor pull out the old ducts. Then, armed with a respirator and thick rubber gloves, I set out to pack about 120 trash bags full of the stuff. It took two months! When I was done, I vacuumed the whole attic with a hepafilter in the shop vac. It is so nice to work up there now.

Looking back on it, that was the most unpleasant work I have ever done. I was balanced on the ceiling joists, stooped over to avoid sharp nails through the roof, straining to reach into crevices under the eaves, often too cold, and sometimes too hot. I felt somewhat guilty throwing away so much material only to buy new insulation later, but this mess had to be cleaned up. Down below in the crawlspace, it was easier to work but there were the unpleasantries of scooping up decades-old rat poo and two expired rats. Fortunately the only critters that live down there now are salamanders (which is surprising; it is dry and dusty all year long, though there are damp crevices in the concrete floor where the amphibians live).
roofing debris over cellulose fill the attic attic insulation removal
debris in the attic making progress with the cleanup making progress with the cleanup
attic vacuumed and clean old knob and tube wiring, some newer attic vacuumed and clean
crawlspace, pre-cleaning crawlspace, post-cleaning


January 2012: Insulation is going back in where I have finished wiring, along with a vapor barrier. I am installing recycled cotton batts because they are very user-friendly: dusty but without any itch; I wear a respirator but no other protective clothing. The material tears like paper, though it is really hard to cut with scissors or a knife - the fibers are too tough, and besides why would you try, when it tears so easily and accurately? I can fit eight bundles in my truck at one time, about one fifth of the total required for my two-layer deluxe installation (R-13 between the ceiling joists, R-19 on top of that perpendicular to the lower layer). The total cost will be about $2 per square foot, installed (by me). I did more calculations on payback from gas bill savings, but we don't use the heat all that much so it will still take a while. Most of our heat loss goes out the windows. However in summer, most of the heat came in from the attic so this will help keep us more comfortable.
attic before insulation installing insulation attic with two layers of insulation
vapor barrier in place first layer of insulation second layer of insulation


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