Can Waterlogged Insulation be Dried Out and Re-used?

Can wet attic insulation simply be dried and then re-used? Probably. Should wet attic insulation simply be dried and then re-used? Probably not. Three issues strongly argue against retaining attic insulation after it has become wet due to water damage such as a roof leak, plumbing pipe rupture, or other water damage source.

Reduced Insulating Effectiveness

Both fiberglass and cellulose loose-fill insulation function effectively because the materials are very fluffy, filled with millons of minute air spaces that inhibit heat transfer. Once insulation has been saturated with water, the material compresses and its critical fluffy consistency is lost. The material’s insulating R-value is degraded and it no longer resists heat transfer as effectively as it originally did.

Inevitable Mold Contamination

Fiberglass insulation is technically waterproof and is not itself a mold nutrient. However, the tiny fibers that make up the material attract and retain dust, which serves as mold food, as well as attracts microscopic airborne mold spores that exist everywhere. When moisture is added to this mix, active mold growth is triggered within 48 hours and begins to thrive within the fibers of the insulation.

Blown-in cellulose insulation is a natural mold nutrient when wet. Even when cellulose is pre-treated to prevent mold, after saturation with water, the dense material remains soggy for an extended time period and continuously transfers wetness to adjoining wooden attic structures like trusses as well as drywall ceiling panels. This ongoing moisture source triggers active mold contamination in those materials as well as wood rot.

Replacement Is Cost-Effective And Healthier

Replacing water-logged insulation is a relatively inexpensive and straightforward project when compared to major mold remediation to remove advanced contamination from the attic. Also, consider that mold contamination rarely remains in one enclosed zone of the house. Microscopic airborne spores migrate easily through minute structural cracks and gaps, spreading attic mold contamination down into living spaces and perhaps causing health issues for occupants of the house.

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