Shredded Styrofoam Insulation in attic- how to remove

Hello,
In what seems very unusal to me, my home has shredded styrofoam in the attic as insulation.
I've verified its styrofoam- there are some large chunks, and all of it weighs, acts and burns like sytrofoam.
I'm not happy to have it there- it strikes me as a possible fire hazzard, especially with possible poison gas emisions in a fire.
I would like to replace this insulation with something more modern, efficient and safe. As of now, I'm leaning towards rolled out fiberglass insulation because thats what I have worked with- if someone could point me to a thread or site with a discussion on the relative merits of different types, that would be helpfull.
I am planning on installing several skylights, so that might affect the type of insulation to get.
But first, I have to get the styrofoam out. I suspect a shop-vac would work well for this. However, its difficult to pull a shop-vac around a cramped attic, and the size of the bucket is a limitation.
Is it possible to rent something that is essentially a large shop-vac with a really long hose, and can have its output put into a set of large trash bins/bags?
Is there a better way to approach this? Are my fears of poison gas in a fire actually unwaranted (e.g. should I just put more insulation on top of the sytrofoam?).
Any pointers would be very much appreciated.
Thanks,
-- Seamus
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Let's get some clarification first. The word Styrofoam is often mis-used for any sort of foam plastics. Step one is the burning. Take a piece of it outside and put a match to it. It should burn while you hold the match, but when you take it away, the foam should STOP burning in seconds. If so, this is the proper modified material used for insulation. If it continues to burn, it means some asshole too the cheap way out and used some packaging material that is not intended for insulation.
If it is blue, it is Dow's Styrofoam brand material, Pink is Owens Corning, yellow is Georgia Pacific, white bead foam (expandable polystyrene) can be many different brands. (Could be NOVA, BASF, Huntsman or others processed locally) Any of these material can be safely used for insulation. It does not give off poisonous fumes, but it will give of a lot of soot, water, carbon dioxide. Building grades will only burn if other materials provide the flame as it is treated so as not to burn on its own.
Shredded foam is often used to fill voids in the concrete blocks for insulation. This is only the modified grades of material. Regular foam should not be used for insulation as it will burn. If it is the real deal, you have no worries. If the previous owner used old packing material to save money, it should be removed and properly insulated with the proper material. Ed
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Thanks all!
I will verify it again tonight- the foam (perhaps it is not styrofoam) is fairly white, most of it is fairly fine, almost like sand (shredded was a bad description). The big chunks are in sheets, if I recall.
When I burned it before, it would smoke and smell, but I didn't have a big enough piece to see if it would sustain a flame on its own for a while.
I will get some more down this weekend and try to burn it more, and perhaps take a few photos to link to.
If it turns out to only briefly smolder and will only burn when something else is igniting it, I will plan to put down some other insulation on top of it (probably post skylight installation). Either way, I will sleep easier :)
Thanks again for the informative follow-ups. I'll plan to reply with the results I find.
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Can we safely assume that any foam product intended for exterior home use is safe to toss in the attic? I've been using scraps of the types of foam sheeting that is applied to the exterior of a house just below the siding. I've also stripped off the foam backing from the waste pieces of CraneBoardฎ vinyl siding. I've always assumed that exterior foam must also be fire resistent and safe to toss in the attic. Correct?
===============================
Edwin Pawlowski wrote in message ...

Let's get some clarification first. The word Styrofoam is often mis-used for any sort of foam plastics. Step one is the burning. Take a piece of it outside and put a match to it. It should burn while you hold the match, but when you take it away, the foam should STOP burning in seconds. If so, this is the proper modified material used for insulation. If it continues to burn, it means some asshole too the cheap way out and used some packaging material that is not intended for insulation.
If it is blue, it is Dow's Styrofoam brand material, Pink is Owens Corning, yellow is Georgia Pacific, white bead foam (expandable polystyrene) can be many different brands. (Could be NOVA, BASF, Huntsman or others processed locally) Any of these material can be safely used for insulation. It does not give off poisonous fumes, but it will give of a lot of soot, water, carbon dioxide. Building grades will only burn if other materials provide the flame as it is treated so as not to burn on its own.
Shredded foam is often used to fill voids in the concrete blocks for insulation. This is only the modified grades of material. Regular foam should not be used for insulation as it will burn. If it is the real deal, you have no worries. If the previous owner used old packing material to save money, it should be removed and properly insulated with the proper material. Ed
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Correct. You can do a simple burn test. The foam should stop burning when the flame is taken away.
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the informative posts!
Edwin Pawlowski wrote in message ...

Correct. You can do a simple burn test. The foam should stop burning when the flame is taken away.
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You're welcome. I've been in the business of molding expandable polystyrene (EPS) for 34 years. Like anything else, there is a lot of mis-information, often from well meaning, but unreliable sources. I'd rather educate people so they can make their own decisions based of facts.
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

As for removal, call around to the commercial insulators in your area, most remove as well as install. It may not be worth your time and effort to do it yourself! I need to add some insulation to my attic. I want to go with blown in fiberglass. I can get get a insulation contrator it blown in for less money than I can buy it! Greg
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

This might sound like a joke, but I am serious. Try to find some local Ebay "power seller" to take it off your hands. They can use it for packaging. I dont want to even try to imagine how much is in an attic. I bet it would fill several dumpsters, and just to rent a dumpster is several hundred dollars per week. Like others said, unless it really does burn, leave it. Somehow I have a feeling that removal and disposal could cost more than the new insulation, even if you do it yourself, because of the disposal costs.
Mark
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 02 Dec 2004 22:33:47 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

Several years ago, there was a fire in a local house here where the elderly owner was somewhat eccentric. He had been taking styrofoam plastic packing peanuts, whenever he'd receive a package, and throw them in his attic for insulation.
The fire chief made a comment, something to the effect that he'd never ever in his career as a fireman, seen a house that went up in flames as fast as that house did. It was totally destroyed.
So, yes, I think I would find a way to remove it all.
dickm
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If it is that type of material, yes, is should be removed. If, OTOH, it is the modified material that meeets building codes and has a flame retardant, it is safe.
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

How long have you owned the home? Sounds like something that should have been declared in the sale of the home.
Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If its as light as styrofoam, how about a Toro electric leaf vac. its got the big bag

Add pictures here
โœ–
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.