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Fiberglass Insulation Problems: 6 Things to Watch Out For

fiberglass insulation | home insulation

Fiberglass Insulation Problems: 6 Things to Watch Out For Blog Feature
Amanda Ringler

By: Amanda Ringler on January 25th, 2021

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Fiberglass insulation can be found in homes across the country, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its fair share of problems.

Are you considering fiberglass for your home insulation, but these problems give you a reason to pause?

RetroFoam of Michigan has more than 17 years of experience installing foam insulation. With that experience, we also have knowledge of all insulation materials. We have insulated hundreds of homes with fiberglass insulation problems, so we know a little bit about the subject.

In an effort to continuously inform homeowners, we have compiled a list of six common fiberglass insulation problems with solutions.

Fiberglass Insulation Problems

From problems with airflow into and out of the house to moisture issues, let's dive right in and look at these fiberglass insulation problems.

Contact with Fiberglass Insulation on Skin, Eyes and Lungs Can Cause Irritations

Fiberglass is made up of small particles of glass.

Those small particles can detach and cause skin and eye irritations on contact. Worse yet, they can also cause respiratory issues if inhaled and can become lodged in the lungs.

Solution: Wearing a long sleeve shirt, pants, gloves, and goggles is recommended anytime the fiberglass material is installed or disturbed.

Wearing goggles whenever installing or uninstalling fiberglass insulation is recommended, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

One tip to avoid contact with the material is to dampen the walls to help lessen the chances of the fiberglass particles from becoming airborne, according to Do It Yourself.

Also, wearing a face mask is your first line of defense. You can also use a respirator with a particulate filter that can prevent the inhalation of the fibers, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors.

Fiberglass Still Allows for Airflow

Airflow in your home can be a major source of high energy bills and uncomfortable living spaces.

The last thing you want is the outside air getting inside your home because it will make your furnace or air conditioner constantly run as you try to keep your home comfortable.

This airflow can also cause fiberglass to separate from where it has been installed and breakdown over time.

Solution: To avoid airflow, an air seal must be created, sealing off the home's building envelope.

This air seal can be created using foam insulation throughout the home.

In the case the fiberglass material has separated and broken down, you will need to replace it.

Fiberglass Can Trap Allergens

People who suffer from allergies will have more reactions and issues if they have fiberglass insulation in their homes.

Fiberglass traps allergens, dust, and moisture that can lead to mold growth.

Think of your fiberglass insulation like a furnace filter. As air moves through it, that furnace filter traps all of the dirt, allergens, and dust that moves through it. You replace that filter every few months, so you aren't circulating dirty air through your home. Let that sink in for a moment -- you replace your furnace filter because it traps allergens, so why would you leave fiberglass insulation in your home when it does the same thing.

Also, suppose there are pests in the home. In that case, the material will also retain anything left behind by the animals as they nest in it.

Solution: People who suffer from allergies will need to find a material that doesn’t trap those allergens and allow them to move throughout the home.

Avoiding an insulation material that doesn’t retain water will also be key to prevent any mold or mildew growth.

Moisture Can Get Trapped Inside the Fiberglass Insulation Material

When moisture gets trapped inside the fiberglass insulation, it can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can also lead to health hazards.

Moisture in the insulation material also significantly lowers its R-Value and insulating capabilities. That moisture can get into the home through air movement or leaks.

Another thing to keep in mind is if the fiberglass is retaining moisture, that moisture is being held against the wood cavities where that fiberglass is installed. This can lead to issues with wood rot throughout the home.

Solution: If fiberglass insulation gets wet, it must be replaced.

It doesn’t dry out, and it will lose a portion of its insulating capabilities. You can replace the material with more fiberglass or choose another insulation that doesn’t retain water.

Fiberglass Insulation Can Be a Bedding Material for Pests

The unwanted guests in your attic are pulling and tearing at your fiberglass, making little beds out of it.

This causes uneven insulation coverage, which in turn causes airflow and an uncomfortable house. With some pests, this can also cause some health issues.

Solution: Keeping pests out of your home can be difficult.

The first step is to find where they are coming in and cut them off at the source. If pests have been in your insulation and displaced it, you will need to replace it and choose a material that is not an attractive home to the critters.

Fiberglass Insulation Can Be Very Difficult to Install Yourself

Fiberglass insulation isn’t as easy to install yourself as you might think.

The material must be cut to the specific cavity where it is being installed. If there are any gaps, then more air will be allowed to move into your home, raising your energy bills and making your home uncomfortable.

It would help if you also took precautions not to come into contact with the material, as we mentioned above. 

Solution: Unless you have the utmost confidence in your handyman skills, it might be best to hire a licensed contractor to install the fiberglass insulation for you.

Choosing the Correct Insulation for Your Home

Now that you have read through some common problems with fiberglass insulation, you may have decided to go with a different insulation material.

One option that can combat the problems discussed is spray foam insulation. Foam insulation can stop air leaks, doesn't promote mold and mildew growth, and isn't a hospitable material for pests to nest in.

If you would like more information on the benefits of spray foam insulation, check out the Learning Center on our website.

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About Amanda Ringler

Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from The Society of Professional Journalists - Detroit Chapter and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.