Water Damage to Attic Insulation

Insulation often shares space with water pipes. If a pipe breaks, the insulation gets water damage. Attic insulation runs the risk of damage when a leak is formed in the ceiling. When the insulation gets wet, it is very important to act quickly. Not only does wet insulation become less effective, but it also feeds mold and mildew, which wreak havoc on your roof joists and, overtime, can start causing health problems to yourself and others in your household.


  1. Feel the insulation by hand. If your insulation feels damp to the touch, it needs to be replaced. It is almost impossible to completely dry insulation quickly enough to prevent mold growth.
  2. Pull the wet insulation out between the attic beams. Call your locality to find the right way to dispose of it in your community. Many places allow you to put it in normal garbage collection.
  3. Allow the attic to completely dry. If possible, run a fan for it to dry faster. If you see mold, mix 1 cup of sodium borate with 1 gallon of water. Pour part of the mixture into an atomizer and spray it on to the mold. Rub the mold with a brush and allow the solution to dry. Do not rinse.
  4. Measure the length of the roof beam that needs to be filled. Transfer this measurement to an insulation piece. Rest the insulation from a piece of plywood and hold a 24-inch long 2-by-4 where you need to cut. Use a knife to cut through the insulation.
  5. Lay the insulation in the space between the ceiling beams. If your insulation has a vapor barrier paper liner, put it towards the hot side. This means, if you heat your home more than cool it, lower the vapor barrier and if you chill your home more than warm, raise the vapor barrier.
  6. Continue to measure and cut insulation to fit inside all spaces between ceiling joists. If you use more than one piece per space, make sure the two pieces are secure end to end. Keep insulation at least 4 inches from any fireplaces or non-rated IC’s can illuminate artifacts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves and a face mask when handling insulation.
  • Install 10 to 14 inches of insulation R38 in your attic.
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