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Vermiculate insulation in attic where furnace/ductwork located

Vermiculate insulation in attic where furnace/ductwork located


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Old 10-22-16, 04:17 AM
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Vermiculate insulation in attic where furnace/ductwork located

Hello all,

I posted this on the ductwork forum also, but not sure where it best fits. I would appreciate any feedback


I am writing about an old family cottage that we have with the furnace and ductwork in the attic. The cottage has been added onto several times, but still has some vermiculite insulation in the attic. I have sent it in for asbestos testing, and it does contain about 1% asbestos.

I have been advised that the best way to deal with this is basically to NOT disturb it. I would say that it was probably the first insulation that was installed - and on top of it is probably 8-10" of blown cellulose, even more in some places. When you are in the attic to service the furnace, you cannot see any of the vermiculate - so I feel that it is fairly well contained and undisturbed in the attic.

My concern comes in with the ductwork - which lies between some of the ceiling cavities, runs across trusses/ceiling joists and then exits the drywall and blows through vents in the ceiling of the cottage (from above). This past summer we had a duct cleaning service do the push/pull method and suck all of the gunk out of the vents. When they left, they did disturb some of the vermiculate, and it fell to the floor around the register vents. This really got me thinking....can this dust fall through the ceiling from the registers and maybe be more disturbed that I think.


So my main questions.....am I putting my family at a great risk here? I know the easy answer is to say just get rid of it....I am thinking that might be worse. A few contractors have advised to not even worry about it...it is a way overblown topic. I am sure if I picked up the phone and called someone they would advise to completely remove and HEPA -handle everything - from a liability standpoint.

But I am looking for a straight shot with common sense. The cabin is a 75 year family possession - getting rid of it is not an option.

Is there anything I should do? I have thought about using some aluminum tape around the register ductwork. Maybe fold a piece over and tape 1" up the side of the duct, then fold over and tape 1" on the ceiling before I reinstall the registers in the ceiling. This may contain any dust that may blow around near the register.

What about the seams inside the ductwork - buried in the insulation in the ceiling. Do you think these could take in dust from the attic and blow it all around the cottage?

Is there any type of filter I could place in each register to collect the dust on site, then toss them out when I change the other filtered? Is this necessary?

Any advice would be appreciated.


A couple of other things that are driving me nuts.....

1) My grandparents only used the cottage in the summers, then shut it down- they probably rarely, if ever , ran the furnace

2) My father lived year round in the cottage from 1997-2014, when he passed away at age 68 from lung cancer. He smoked two packs a day, which seemed like the likely culprit. However, he was the only one who used the furnace on a regular/annual basis. Not sure if I am just thinking too much here

3) We rarely use the cottage in the winter, but we do use it. Thats why I am thinking so hard here. After the ductwork cleaning, and with some vermiculate dropping to the floor in the cottage, I became concerned. Wondering if there is anything I can/should do. I should say that it was only due to the duct cleaning that the vermiculite was disturbed, it is not regularly disturbed. I guess I am mostly concerned about possible dust being taken into the seams of the attic ductwork and blown around with the heat.


Thanks for any thoughts


Nathan
 
  #2  
Old 10-22-16, 04:49 AM
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I have a short attention span and only made it half way through your post. I would not be overly concerned. First I would thoroughly clean, with a damp cloth, the areas where vermiculite has fallen. After you've cleaned up what has fallen you should go back to the undisturbed state.

As an added measure of protection you can remove your grates and caulk between the duct and ceiling. This will seal off the gap so vermiculite cannot filter or fall out of the attic. Sine you will be right up there with it I would wear a cartridge respirator. Clean the ladder, floor and anything else in the work area with a damp cloth. And when you are finished throw your work clothes directly into the washing machine and run it so particulates from your clothing are removed.

Finally, the fears over asbestos exposure have been greatly exagerated. Largely, I believe, by lawyers since it's been a major source of income for them. Working in your favor the fibers in vermiculite are still in a relatively natural state which is much less harmful. It's the fibers that went through a hammering or milling process that are more dangerous. And if nobody is a smoker then you're in even better shape. Smoking is almost a smoking gun (pun?) in triggering bad things from asbestos.
 
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Old 10-22-16, 04:53 AM
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Thanks Dave - I appreciate the reply, and sorry for the long post.

Your suggestions make sense. And yes, I have read where adding smoking to the asbestos exposure really amplifies the effects.

My only other question related to the seams of the ductwork, which is in the attic, and probably laying on top of the vermiculate in some areas.

Thanks
 
 

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