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A Guide To Attic Insulation Removal: Full Step by Step Instructions

A man in red coveralls with an orange hard hat and a mask rolling up insulation in an attic.

An attic is not one of the easiest or most comfortable places to crawl through in your home. But when it’s old, you will have little to no say in the matter. Old insulation can be dirty and affect airflow in the attic. You’ll have to get into the attic to remove the old insulation, as it can affect your energy consumption rate.

Get a partner to monitor a commercial insulation vacuum, and use it to suck out the loose-blown cellulose insulation. If it’s fiberglass batt, roll the rigid insulations and place them in the bin. Then, clear all the loose debris.

If attic insulation is not removed properly, old or damaged insulation may end up overworking your air conditioner. It can also be prone to mold, affecting the air quality in your home. Attic insulation removal is mandatory, and new insulation may need to be installed. Read my article to learn exactly why attic insulation is so important.

This guide will help you through the process step by step.

How Much Does It Cost To Vacuum Old Insulation From the Attic?

Generally, the cost of removing attic insulation from a 600 sq. ft. attic ranges between around $600 and $1,200, between $1 and $2 for every sq. ft., averaging $900. This price does not include new insulation or insulation disposal costs.

There are several factors that affect the price of attic insulation removal, with the common ones being:

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#1: Size Of The Attic

The bigger the attic, the more insulation is needed, costing more to remove it. Fortunately, most contractors will consider the size when preparing a quote.

#2: Type Of Insulation

Some insulations are easier to remove and require fewer tools, while others are more complicated. For instance, batt insulation is normally removed by hand; therefore, it may cost more. Usually, removing the blown-in insulation is cheaper since it’s done with a vacuum.

To save some cash, try replacing the insulation yourself. It’s a simple process, and you can rent a commercial insulation vacuum.  

Key Steps

Attic insulation removal is a straightforward procedure that anyone can do. But before you get into the attic, be sure to have all the necessary tools and requirements.

To remove the old blown-in insulation, do the following:

  • Stage your supplies and equipment on the driveway, lawn, or in a garage.
  • Prepare the work site.
  • Set up the commercial insulation vacuum and hose.
  • Wear protective gear.
  • Climb to the attic and start working.
  • Clean the attic and exit.

When removing fiberglass batt insulation, do the following:

  • Prepare for the procedure as with the above process. Make sure to wear protective gear.
  • Place waste bags and HEPA-filtered shop vac, sold on Amazon, in the attic.
  • Roll the insulation by hand.
  • Start the commercial insulation vacuum.
  • Remove the waste bags and equipment from the attic.
  • Remove the vacuum hoses from the house.

These processes are pretty easy, so instead of contracting a professional, follow the below tutorial:

A man with overalls and a hard had and a mask removing insulation from an attic with his hands.
Wear protective gear while removing attic insulation

What You Will Need For Attic Insulation Removal

Protection Gear For Attic Insulation Removal

The attic insulation removal process can be quite dangerous so you must wear protective gear to cover your entire body, all can be bought on Amazon (and I’ve linked to the products where available), including the following:

Blown cellulose insulation removal requirements:

NOTE: If you don’t have a Commercial Insulation Vacuum, you can get dustpans, a HEPA-filtered shop vac, and rakes instead.

The Attic Insulation Removal Process

Attic insulation is a great addition to your home and prevents gradual damage to the house caused by moisture and heat. The insulation can also prevent moisture from eroding your walls, but most importantly, it helps with energy efficiency.

With sufficient insulation, the heat and air conditioning will run less, lowering utility bills.

Here is a helpful video explaining the types of insulation, and why it needs to be removed over time:

There are four different types of attic insulations, including:

  • fiberglass batt
  • cellulose insulation
  • blown-in fiberglass
  • spray foam insulations

In this guide, we will focus on blow-in insulation removal and fiberglass batt attic insulation removal.

How To Remove Blown Insulation

Step #1: Stage Your Supplies And Equipment On The Driveway, Lawn, Or In the Garage

After inspecting the attic to determine that the insulation does need to be replaced, next, measure the distance between the attic and the front door or the garage.

The vacuum will be in the garage or backyard, so knowing the distance between the attic and the front door is important. It helps to determine the hose length needed for the job.

After confirming that you have all the above tools and equipment, proceed to prepare the worksite before purring on the protective gear.

Step #2: Worksite Preparation

Attic insulation removal can be very dusty work and may leave the home dirty. Prepare a path for the hose from the attic to your main door. Remove everything blocking the way for the vacuum hose to stretch straight to the attic.

After creating a path for the vacuum hose, you can cover the floor and walls along the hose path using a protective covering. Secure the covering with tape for the home to remain clean.

Finally, set the ladder right below the attic entrance point and ensure it’s steady enough to support your weight.

A large hose blowing attic insulation in.
Blown insulation

Step #3: Set Up the Commercial Vacuum

Having determined the distance from the front door to the attic entrance, you know how many vacuum hoses are needed. Align them between the vacuum and the attic access, ensuring you don’t have any kink along the pipe.

Secure the vacuum hoses with a metal hose connector and attach them to the commercial vacuum. Next, attach the collection bag to the outlet and ensure it’s secured.

Removing the attic insulation is not a one-person task, so get a partner and teach them how to operate the commercial vacuum.  This video is a helpful tutorial on how to use a vacuum for insulation:

Step #4: Wear Protective Gear

With everything set, it’s time to get into the attic and start working. For protection, wear:

  • coveralls
  • rubber gloves
  • a mask
  • kneepads

Attic cleaning is a filthy job, and once the commercial insulation vacuum is running, the environment will become harsh for the respiratory system. Therefore, make sure you to goggles to protect your eyes and a mask to protect your lungs.  

Before climbing to the attic and starting to work, make sure to place these items in the attic:

  • waste bags
  • dustpans
  • rakes
  • HEPA-filtered shop vac

Step #5: Climb To The Attic And Start Working

Next, start the vacuum and make sure your assistant is around. Get into the attic with one end of the vacuum hose and start the attic insulation removal process. Unfortunately, working in the attic can be quite challenging, especially for tall individuals.

Wear knee pads since you will be working while supporting yourself with your knees. You can work on your back and sides if it’s a tight spot to reduce fatigue and make it possible for you to work for an extended period.

Start from one end slowly, making sure to remove most of the attic insulation.

Your assistant will:

  • inspect the commercial insulation vacuum hose for kinks
  • inspect collection bag
  • refuel the vacuum with gasoline if necessary
  • replace the bag when filled up

The temperature in the attic can get relatively high, so if it gets too hot, take a 15-minute break to improve productivity and stay hydrated.

Step #6: Clean The Attic

After most of the insulation has been removed, finally do the following:

  • Collect the remaining insulation with a rake onto the dustpan.
  • Place the insulation in a waste bag, and make sure to leave the attic clean. Most importantly, use the shop vac to carry the remaining insulation.
  • Once finished, carry the waste bags to the dumpster outside.

Step #7: Exit The Attic

Finally, exit the attic with all of the tools, disassemble the vacuum hose, and take them outside. Clean up the tools. Remove the surface covering in the house and get rid of them, and you’re good to go!

Removing Fiberglass Batt Insulation

Despite the difference between the two attic materials, the removal process is almost the same.

The only difference is the use of the commercial insulation vacuum after you have removed the fiberglass batts. To remove fiberglass batt insulation, do the following:

A ladder below an attic entrance with insulation showing in the attic.
Place a ladder below the attic entrance

Step #1: Preparation

Do the same as with the blown attic insulation removal. Start by staging the gear and making sure to have everything ready for the job.

Clear a path between the attic entrance and the front door and cover it using the covering material. Place the ladder beneath the attic.

Set up the vacuum and route its hoses through the front door to the attic. Make sure everything is installed correctly before proceeding to the next step.

Step #2: Place Waste Bags And Shop-Vac In The Attic

Since the batting is hand removed one by one, place all the waste bags and the shop vac in the attic. Once everything is ready:

  • wear protective gear
  • climb into the attic
  • start working

Step #3: Roll The Insulation by Hand

Instead of removing the insulation using the commercial vacuum, roll the pieces of insulation into the ceiling and place them in the waste bags. Make sure to remove all the batting down the ceiling joists one by one. Start from one end of the attic and go step by step to the last one.

Make sure the battings are as compact as possible before inserting them in the waste bags. Once each bag is filled, tie them to avoid further mess while taking them outside.

Step #4: Start The Commercial Insulation Vacuum

To ensure that it’s all removed, ask your helper to start the commercial vacuum and go over every joist. The commercial vacuum can help clean the attic to prepare for new insulation.

Continue vacuuming until the insulation is removed and the attic is clean.

Step #5: Remove The Waste Bags And Equipment From The Attic

Once the attic is clean, get out and remove the tools, and clean them. Carry the waste bags to the dumpster and make sure the equipment is clean and dry before storing them.

Step #6: Remove The Vacuum Hoses From The House

Next, dismantle and remove the hoses for storage. Remove the filled collection bag and empty it. Finally, remove the covering from the walls and floor leading to the attic entrance. Clean the house, and you’re good to go!

A man rolling up old batting insulation in an attic with a brick wall and wood beams.
Roll batting insulation up by hand


Attic insulation removal is mandatory, especially if you live in a highly humid region. Fortunately, it’s a simple DIY process.

Use the above tutorials, save some cash, and protect your family members with proper insulation. I hope this tutorial inspired you!

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