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You Might Have Formaldehyde in Your Attic and Not Even Know It!

cellulose-H160GI2EF7So which insulation is better; Cellulose or blown-in-Fiberglass? You can do the research and decide for yourself or take a moment for us to share a recent client experience.

In 2015, we received a phone call from a distressed home owner. He and his family had suddenly developed severe respiratory problems, making it very difficult to breathe the air in their home. They weren’t exactly sure what specifically was causing the issues, but they did know it had something to do with recent work he had done in his attic to address a rodent issue. 

Prior to calling us, they had hired a pest-control company to come out to resolve the rodent issue. The pest control company’s solution was to vacuum out the old insulation, block the access points and install new,   “pest-repelling”, cellulose insulation in his attic.

What is cellulose insulation? Cellulose is ground up, recycled newspaper that is treated with chemicals to make it fire-retardant and to repel pests; it does not totally eliminate them. Although it may be true that cellulose acts as a repellant, there is debate on how effective it is at repelling pests. More importantly, the chemicals cellulose is treated with can have detrimental effects to your health as well as create some major dust issues in your home. Unfortunately, both were the case for our new client.

The first thing we did was assign one of our Certified Energy Auditors and a Heating and Air Conditioning Technician to evaluate his home. Our team discovered that there was a considerable amount of dust and chemicals entering the home. We determined that the ductwork in the home was improperly installed and that the attic was not properly sealed. This was creating an unbalanced, negative-pressure condition every time the system would operate. The home’s envelope was vulnerable to attic air being pulled in by the heating and air conditioning system and the condition of the duct work.

Resolving the pressure issue certainly helped the situation but it did not eliminate the entire problem. Next, we recommended testing his indoor air quality to discover the root cause of his family’s respiratory issue. Our air quality test screens for harmful chemicals, toxins and air pollutants. The diagnosis of the air quality test indicated that the home had extremely high levels of formaldehyde!

Where was formaldehyde coming from???…… HIS NEW CELLULOSE INSULATION!

We recommended removing all of the cellulose insulation installed by the pest control company and providing him with a much healthier product, blown in fiberglass insulation. His respiratory issues were so bad; he didn’t bat an eye and left the rest in our hands to correct.  All that expense just to fix a rodent issue which in turn created a much more serious problem, a health problem for his family!

We are happy to report, once the cellulose was replaced with blown in fiberglass, our new customer reported a comfortably happy and much healthier family!

*By calling a local company in your area to come in and perform a comprehensive, Home Energy Audit you are taking the first steps to having cleaner air to breathe as well as staying cooler and saving money.