Do You Have to Replace Insulation if It Gets Wet?
If you live somewhere prone to storms and heavy rainfall, or one of the pipes in your home bursts, you need to think about wet insulation. In fact, you should have a plan for treating it before disaster strikes.
Moisture can keep plants healthy and your skin from drying out. But an excess of humidity can wreak havoc everywhere—on your floors, around your furniture, and in the insulation.
If you’re a homeowner, it’s important to learn how to respond to different kinds of moisture, especially in your insulation.
What follows is a guide to dealing with insulation exposed to an excess of moisture. Here’s what to know on everything from cleaning to treatment and after treatment care.
Problems Caused by Exposing Insulation to Moisture
If it’s clear that your home’s insulation has become exposed to water, you need to act. It’s not a problem that can fix itself. But what type you have changes how you respond.
Each material will require a different approach and treatment regimen, from spray foam to fiberglass to cellulose.
The problems that can arise from wet insulation are many and range from not serious to quite severe.
Wet Insulation Loses Its Effectiveness
Fiberglass consists of a network of tiny, feathery micro-pieces of glass. This web forms a kind of barrier between your interior walls and the exterior walls. There are tiny air pockets that counteract warm air trying to enter from outdoors in the summer and cold air from entering in the winter.
The problem when this material gets wet is not that it loses effectiveness if it’s soaked. It begins to lose efficacy as it dries.
If insulating fiberglass gets filled with dirty stormwater, the fibers can become fused together. Having no airflow is much worse than having too much.
Another common material for insulating a home is cellulose. The material is better at standing up to regular, seasonal moisture via weather and humidity. But if it gets too wet, the same airflow collapse problem can happen, totally compromising its effectiveness.
Perhaps the worst outcome is the growth of mold. All mold needs to sprout up and spread is moisture, airflow, and time. Mold can spore on fabric and other surfaces within 72 hours of exposure to fabric, wood, carpets, drywall, organic materials, and, yes, insulation.
According to FEMA, if you don’t take steps to mitigate a mold issue within 48 hours of exposure, you risk never really being able to get it under control.
The problem with mold is that the spores that spread it are microscopic. Even if you treat the affected area, spores could have burrowed into your carpet feet away. All it takes is a little moisture for that mold to start spreading again.
If you have reason to believe your home’s insulation has become exposed to an excess of moisture, call a mold remediation specialist and have them treat it immediately.
Dealing With Wet Insulation
High humidity in a living space alone constitutes a health risk. Add on top of that the dangers posed by wet insulation? You need to learn what to do and do it quickly.
First, you’ll want to bring in fans and dehumidifiers. Open every window and expose the insulation to the air as much as possible.
Monitor the dampness, and if you smell anything odd, it could mean that your insulation has become contaminated. There’s no choice then but to replace it.
Keeping Insulation Dry
Once you’ve dried it out, it’s another project to keep it dry. There are also steps you can take to make sure it’s not exposed to humidity and moisture in the same way again.
Go around your home, wherever the insulation is, and check for gaps in the caulking. Seal all the gaps you can find in caulking and external wood sheathing. That’s a common way that moisture enters a home from the outside during weather events.
Is Wet Insulation Harmful?
Wet insulation can indeed be harmful. Not only is it dangerous to your health, but it can also be detrimental to the value of your home and your experience in it. Degraded insulation can cause massive temperature swings and depreciate home value if not replaced.
Can Wet Insulation Make You Sick?
Wet insulation’s most harmful capacity is its capacity to spread mold. Mold can affect your lungs, skin, and eyes. It can make you cough, develop rashes, congest your lungs, and lead to even more severe side effects down the line.
Staying Safe and Dry with All Dry USA
If you’re afraid that a burst pipe or torrential downpour exposed your insulation to too much moisture, call All Dry USA, and set yourself at ease.