Fiberglass lends itself to blanket-style insulation in the form of batts and rolls, as well as to blown-in insulation, a filler not unlike a thick layer of popcorn. Sometimes, you may find both -- typically a layer of loose-fill insulation over batts -- within your walls. While blown-in insulation calls for professional removal via industrial-strength vacuuming, you can dispose of fiberglass rolls yourself. The process isn't quite as simple as a stroll to the trashcan, but getting rid of old insulation is a fairly painless process when you approach with a bit of preparation.
Before disposing of fiberglass insulation, it's important to equip yourself properly to maximize your safety. Wear loose long sleeves and long pants, and a head covering to cover your skin. Contact with fiberglass insulation may lead to irritation. If you get fibers, dust or debris on your skin or in your eyes, avoid rubbing them. Instead, thoroughly wash your skin with mild soap and water or flush your eyes for 15 minutes. Stick with old clothes that you don't mind discarding, and dispose of them after you're done removing the fiberglass. Equip yourself with thick work gloves and safety glasses or goggles, and wear a dust mask or, for optimal safety, an activated charcoal mask. Ventilate the area as much as possible before beginning the disposal process.
Bag It Up
As you remove fiberglass insulation from the walls, securely bagging it is the first step of the disposal process. Rolled fiberglass insulation commonly comes in thicknesses ranging from 3.5 inches to 12 inches, so you'll need large, durable bags, often known as contractor bags, to accommodate a big load. Double-bag each load of insulation for safety. As you fill the bags, clear them from the work area immediately to avoid spreading excess dust.
Make a Trip
Once you've bagged the fiberglass insulation, you can't simply toss it in the trash bin. Contact your local waste authority or county waste management department. Personnel there will direct you to the nearest specialized waste location, typically a building-materials disposal site. In some cases, you must pay a small fee to dispose of fiberglass insulation at the site. However, if you dispose of the insulation in your home's trash bins or dumpster, you risk a costlier fine.
A city- or county-sanctioned building-materials disposal site isn't always your only option for disposing of fiberglass insulation. The National Insulation Association, as of 2014, was continuing to develop new methods of recycling fiberglass insulation into acoustic and thermal insulation materials. They're environmentally friendly alternatives to disposal in landfills, as fiberglass insulation can leach into the ground, threatening the ecosystem. Although it's an uncommon practice, ask if your waste authority or disposal site can deliver your fiberglass to a recycling facility -- like regular disposal, this may come at a small fee.
- Energy.gov: Types of Insulation
- North American Insulation Manufacturers Association: Safe Handling Recommendations
- Healthy House Institute: Fiberglass Insulation: Use With Care
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Household Products Database: Owens Corning Cathedral Batt Fiberglass Insulation
- D & A Energy Solutions: How to Remove and Dispose of Old Fiberglass Insulation
- Recycle San Diego: Recycling Insulation
- Boston.com: Proceed With Caution When Removing Old Fiberglass Insulation
- International Association of Certified Home Inspectors: Fiberglass Insulation: History, Hazards and Alternatives