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Should You Remove Old Insulation Before Installing New?

Is it time to improve the insulation in your home? Maybe you’ve noticed drafts, snow melting on the roof, terrible heating and cooling efficiency or any of a dozen other warning signs of poor insulation, and you’re wondering what you can do to fix those problems with as little expense and complication as possible.

If so, you’re no doubt wondering whether all that insulation you already have needs to come out before the new stuff can go in. After all, there’s a lot of it, and it may not be the easiest to get to or remove — so can you just add more insulation on top and be done with it? The same way you might pile another blanket on when an old favorite with a few holes in it isn’t quite enough for the winter?

The short answer, in most cases, is that you don’t have to remove it. The longer answer is that you don’t have to remove it, but there are some considerations or circumstances where you may want to do so for the best value and energy efficiency.

Should You Remove Old Insulation?

ENERGY STAR® standards specifically discuss adding new insulation over old insulation, coming to the simple conclusion that it’s fine unless there is some significant obvious problem, such as the old insulation being damp or showing signs of having been wet from mold, warping, rotting, etc.

If your insulation has been wet in the past, and the problem that caused it to be wet isn’t resolved — or you didn’t even know it existed — then stacking more insulation on top will be ineffective and may end up hiding major problems for later. The same rules apply for other signs you probably don’t want to just cover up and ignore, like pests, holes in the walls or roof, etc.

Aside from this, you may find that you struggle to get enough insulation in the space you have available if you leave the old insulation in place. This is pretty rare, unless space is very tight and your old insulation is completely useless.

Tips, Caveats and Considerations

If you decide just to add more insulation, it’s important that you — or the professionals you hire to do it — do everything by the book. It’s easy to get slapdash with an addition, but this will greatly undermine the advantages that new insulation adds. That means you should follow best practices such as:

  • Don’t use insulation that is inappropriate for a second layer, such as faced insulation that could trap moisture in places you don’t want it.
  • Don’t squash or flatten insulation in the process.
  • Test old insulation, which might be made of suspect materials.
  • Air seal in advance for maximum insulation performance and energy efficiency.

Poorly installed second insulation layers can end up backfiring and leaving your home less insulated, less comfortable, even less safe. It’s not always a simple matter of just stacking more material in there and getting better outcomes.

Trust Your Professionals

In the end, there is a lot of nuance to choosing how to insulate or reinsulate a home or any other building — which means it’s too complicated to boil down your particular insulation situation to a yes or no answer in a short blog post.

Fortunately, the pros at Builders Installed Products Albany have seen just about every insulation setup possible — and they will have a good idea of when they can leave old insulation in place, how to work around it and when it absolutely needs to go. Reach out today to get our advice.



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