How to Remove Insulation from a Basement Ceiling

Learn how to remove insulation from a basement ceiling.

After we cleaned out the basement, the next step was to remove the insulation. We plan on leaving the beams exposed and painting this, so this was a necessary step.

I feel like this post needs a disclaimer that it was probably the worst hour of my life. But in the end, totally worth it. (I have allergies, so I had a pretty bad reaction.)

12 tips for removing insulation

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Should You Remove Insulation from a Basement Ceiling?

The internet seems split on whether or not your should insulate a basement ceiling and I think that’s because there are so many factors for each house. Here’s a few things that we considered.

House Location

Temperature: We live in central Maryland, which means we see all 4 seasons. However, our basement stays about the same temperature all year long. If our basement got cold, we would have considered keeping the insulation.

Humidity Levels: Maryland is a bit of a swamp, so summers can be really damp. We run a dehumidifier constantly, but the room still had a musty smell. Pipes condensate and there’s nowhere for the moisture to go. Insulation is probably fine in a dry area, but I was concerned about mold.

Country Living: We live in the country, surrounded by a forest. There are currently new neighborhoods being built nearby, which is displacing animals. We normally have a higher than normal amount of critters because of the forest, but I suspect it will be worse this year.

Unwanted Guests

I’m not talking about your mother-in-law, but the creepy, crawly variety of unwanted guests. Insulation gives those creatures a place to hide and nest.

We’ve had rats, mice, snakes and spiders the size of your hand living down there. And no matter who you are, you’re probably afraid of at least one of those.

Removing their hiding places makes me feel better.

Did you know that mice actually attract snakes? So then you have a problem with mice AND snakes? EEK!

Now that the insulation is gone, we can see the edges of the foundation of our home and see any cracks where these animals are entering our home.

Allergies

I’m basing this last one on my reaction to removing the insulation, but I believe that the insulation was holding 20 years worth of dust (and other things too.)

If you have allergies, consider removing it because you’re also removing the mold, animal feces and god knows what, along with the dust.

What Kind of Shape is it In?

Our ceiling insulation was in bad shape. There were places where it was falling from the ceiling.

insulation falling from ceiling in basement

What We Found When We Removed Insulation from the Basement Ceiling

I can’t believe I’m sharing this for the world to read, but I feel passionate about removing insulation now. The other side of my basement has the same insulation, hidden under a drop ceiling.

  • Nests for rodents. They brought in acorns, as well as pilfered candy from my kids.
  • So much mouse poop. And other poop.
  • Dead mice. Surprisingly, we only found 2.
  • Evidence of mold.
  • Mystery spots that I really don’t want to think about much longer.

Is There Any Reason to Keep Insulation?

The only reason I can see for keeping the insulation is for noise reduction. With the insulation removed, the room is a LOT louder. But it’s also empty.

Soft furnishings, like rugs and furniture do wonders for absorbing sound, so I’m not too worried. There are also special drywall materials that help block noise.

basement with insulation removed
The ceiling is almost ready to be sprayed!

Tips for Removing Insulation from a Basement Ceiling

Supplies Needed

*If you have allergies, I suggest all the protective gear possible. Use a respirator mask instead of the dust masks. Wear goggle type eye protection so that they don’t fog up. Consider a disposable painter’s coverall. And take allergy medicine before you start. Also know that the next few days will probably be bad for you.

Even if you don’t have allergies, you need protection. Insulation is fiberglass, which feels like you’re touching a million tiny cacti! It hurts your eyes and lungs too.

  • Enlist help! My husband pulled the insulation down, while my son and I gathered it up and put it in garbage bags.
  • You need more garbage bags than you think! We filled at least 20 bags.
  • We prefer construction grade garbage bags because they’re larger than normal bags and have much thicker plastic, so they can hold heavier debris.
  • Have a pile of garbage bags already opened because it’s really difficult to open them with gloves on.
  • Take breaks outside as needed. This is hot, sweaty work. And the air fills with dust and fiberglass so fast.
  • Don’t forget about the tiny areas around vents where insulation may be stuffed.
  • Let the air settle before you start sweeping up the debris. We went outside and breathed fresh air for about 20 minutes.
  • If your insulation is held in place with metal rods, they will need to be picked up and thrown away (instead of sweeping them.)
  • Turn your clothes inside out when you remove them and immediately wash them.
  • Be prepared to shower immediately after the job is done. Showering helps your skin feel better.
  • Dispose of the insulation in the proper way for where you live. Check out the website for your local county landfill. We have to pay a higher rate for construction debris than normal trash.
  • If you have more than just insulation (or if you have a lot of it), consider renting a dumpster and filling it instead of hauling it away yourself.

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12 tips for removing insulation

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