Q. Okay to Add More Insulation On Top of Vermiculite?

Q. Hey Mark,
I have read the postings about vermiculite and that you should not disturb it. We only have 6 inches of insulation in our attic and need more [for] our cold winter weather. How do we add more insulation to the attic without disturbing the vermiculite and causing a health hazard? Will a professional insulation company add insulation over it?

Hey Victoria,
It’s hard to tell you what would be best in your situation without actually looking at the home, but I can give you some options to consider.

One option that would be a permanent solution, is to have have the vermiculite professionally removed and replaced. That’s going to be a fairly expensive proposition and one that isn’t always necessary. If the insulation is staying where it is supposed to be, isn’t sifting into the living area around lights and fixtures, and has no traffic on or around it, a lower cost solution would be to cover it up.

I would recommend that you interview the insulation companies in your area, and make sure that their installers are familiar with vermiculite and the possibility that it contains asbestos. If their installers are well trained, and properly equipped, they may be able to either lay rolled insulation, or blow additional fiber or cellulose insulation over the top of what you already have. That will of course disturb what you have to a certain degree, but a properly trained and equipped installer will minimize the disturbance as much as is reasonably possible. Remember though, with the second option, you must always be aware of the vermiculite’s presence. Anyone going into the attic should be notified of it’s existence. And any remodeling that will disturb it will need to be done professionally, as well. If you have insulation added, make sure you document what was done and keep the receipts. When you go to sell the home, put some wording in your disclosure of this nature… “In 2008 we added 8 inches of blown cellulose insulation on top of the original 6 inches of vermiculite.” This does two things… It informs the buyer that vermiculite is present, and also lets them know that you improved the home by adding insulation and by covering the vermiculite. Reduce buyer suspicions by disclosing up front and increase buyer peace of mind by advertising the improvement.

Bottom line, I would recommend that you get several estimates from some asbestos remediation companies for removal, as well as insulation companies for covering it up. This will allow you to make the best decision based on your specific circumstances.

Mark Nahrgang is the owner of Kingdom Inspection Network Group – St. Louis and is a professional NACHI certified building inspector in the St. Louis metro area. Mark performs home inspections as well as commercial inspections throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County.


98 Responses

  1. Like you said, unless major remodel plans are in the works, or particles are falling from the ceiling – I think everyone should just leave the vermiculite in place and – depending on where you live – blow in 6-12″ of cellulose ins. on top of it. Vermiculite on it’s own is actually a fairly decent insulator – and so is asbestos – but as is the case with most homes and cabins insulated with it, there was not usually enough installed for a northern climate zone like central/northern MN or WI. Based on my research, the addition of 12″+ of good quality blown in cellulose on top of 4-6″ of vermiculite will give you an R-40 which is more than the R-38 that most northern governance’s require for attics and is perfectly legal to do. Just make sure you disclose what you did to any potential buyers.

  2. Nice blog In my view the Vermiculite removal is not that much easy it is silicate mineral that which is classified as phyllosilicate and it expands greatly when it gets heated. It occurs when the mineral is heated sufficiently the effect is routinely produced in commercial furnaces. And the Vermiculite is formed by weathering or alteration of biotite. for more information please visit http://www.healthyenvironmental.ca

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