How To Tell If Your Attic Has Asbestos

Worried your attic insulation might contain asbestos? Here's how to tell if your attic has asbestos and what to do if you suspect the worst.

To the layman, asbestos is a manufactured, synthetic material that can make you sick. Contrary to popular belief, you can find asbestos in nature. Soil and rocks are common places to find asbestos.

These mineral fibers are resistant to electricity, chemicals, and heat. Due to this characteristic, the textile, automotive, and construction industries have products and materials that contain asbestos. 

Asbestos fibers are also likely present in old attic insulation in your home. Before we knew of its dangers, manufacturers used it as a form of insulation. 

The problem is that over time, the cotton-like fibers of asbestos separate into microscopic pieces that are released into the air. You can then breathe in the asbestos fibers, which build up in your lungs over time. 

Prolonged exposure to asbestos in insulation can lead to possibly fatal diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. 

Best not to wait any longer. Find out how to tell if your attic has asbestos in this article. 

What Year Was Your House Built?

Like cigarettes, asbestos in insulation, or simply asbestos insulation, was once deemed good and healthy for you. There was a time when people believed asbestos attic insulation was one of the best types of insulation because of its heat-resistant property. We have since discredited this myth. 

In the United States, asbestos removal and abatement are standard practices involving licensed, certified, and insured companies & professionals. While the US is yet to ban asbestos, government agencies like the EPA implement local and state laws and federal regulations regarding asbestos. You can read up on asbestos removal and disposal laws, such as the Clean Air Act. 

How do you know if your insulation has asbestos? One clue is when your home was built. Many older homes have insulation containing asbestos. If your home was built in the year 2000 and earlier and you haven't replaced your attic insulation, you probably still have asbestos insulation material. 

What does asbestos insulation look like in old houses? The asbestos attic insulation from years before is similar to present-day insulation. They had asbestos blown-in insulation in the past, and we still have blown-in insulation these days. The difference is that no asbestos is used in fiberglass insulation today. Present high-quality blown-in insulation or loose-fill insulation uses sustainable high-fiber glass.

Another attic insulation that contained asbestos before is spray-on. Known currently as spray foam insulation, modern attic specialists utilize either open or closed-cell spray foam for this type of insulation. Other asbestos attic insulation types are batt/blanket, block insulation, and vermiculite insulation. 

What Is The Texture And Color Of Your Existing Insulation?

Examining the texture and color of your existing insulation is another way of identifying asbestos insulation. However, do not inspect it closely yourself, and contact attic insulation services if you have concerns about owning asbestos insulation.

What does asbestos insulation look like? Vermiculite insulation almost always carries asbestos. You can easily spot vermiculite as glittery gray-brown insulation or silver-gold. Its texture is pebble or popcorn-like.

Imagine vermiculite insulation as brown or silvery gold, tiny, lightweight stone pebbles but hazardous

Zonolite is a trademarked brand name for vermiculite insulation. If you ever notice the description and come across the Zonolite brand, reach out to a certified attic specialist.

"I think I have the old cellulose insulation?" "Is that dangerous?" "How to tell the difference between cellulose and asbestos insulation?" Worry not because cellulose insulation is entirely safe and is distinguishable by its recycled paper appearance. 

What professional attic inspectors could caution you more about is pipe insulation. Pipes in utility rooms, furnace rooms, and basements likely have asbestos insulation. Pipe insulation looks like corrugated paper or cardboard and is a gray or off-white color.

Attic insulation experts recommend fiberglass or spray foam insulation as the better choice compared to harmful asbestos insulation. 

Fiberglass is shiny, fluffy, and white like cotton candy. Spray foam is sprayed wet and comes in white, yellow, purple, and green colors. 

How to tell if insulation is asbestos?

The quick answer is by what it looks like. It might be asbestos insulation if it appears like vermiculite pebbles and you're probably good if they look like cotton candy fiberglass. 

What to do with suspicious insulation? Call a professional attic specialist immediately if you suspect having the asbestos-containing insulation discussed above. 

What Does Your Certified Attic Specialist Say?

You may be more acquainted with how to identify asbestos insulation now, but the authority on the subject is still a certified attic specialist. They're experts on obsolete attic practices such as asbestos insulation and brands taken off the market like Zonolite.

They're experienced in how to look and test for asbestos and knowledgeable about the strict laws on asbestos removal and disposal. Did you know that you need to wet and contain asbestos during the removal? Certified attic specialists have the safety masks and gears to protect themselves from airborne asbestos.

We recommend leaving it to the professionals to do a risky job such as asbestos identification and removal. 


Attics protect you from the sun's heat and can keep you extra warm on colder days. It provides storage, and you can transform it into an extra bedroom or play area if you wish to. A finished, well-insulated attic also automatically increases the market value of your home. 

It shouldn't be a source of deadly dust and harmful chemicals that make you and your family ill. Get in touch with attic insulation services to dispose of asbestos insulation for good and for expert recommendations on the attic right attic insulation for you. 

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