Water damage to insulation in the attic

Insulation often shares space with water pipes. If a pipe breaks, the insulation gets water damage. Attic insulation runs the risk of damage when forming a leak 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, you can start yourself causing health problems.


  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 have it in your community. Many places allow you to pull in normal garbage collection.
  3. Allow the attic to completely dry. If possible, run a fan to dry faster. If you look at the mold, mix 1 cup of sodium borate with 1 gallon of water. Pour part of the mixture into an atomizer and spray it into 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, using 2-for-4 as a guide.
  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 securely butt, end to end. Maintain 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.