If your home has a crawlspace, there may come a time when you need to replace some or all of the insulation under the floor. Normally, insulation will last for the life of the home but it will need to be replaced if the batts get wet or if it is falling down due to decomposition or destroyed by rodents. This is without a doubt one of the most unpleasant tasks a homeowner will encounter, but if you want to save a lot of money and even more importantly, get it done right, then doing it yourself is the way to go.
The first thing you need to do is get ready to enter the crawlspace. It is always preferable to do this in the winter when all the snakes and other critters are asleep, that way you avoid surprising each other. Next you need to get dressed. Wear a hat, glasses, coveralls, tube socks and sneakers. You will also want to wear gloves and a dust mask. Remember, you will wallowing around on your belly and back in a very dirty, dusty and fiberglass filled environment.
Now that your dressed properly, you will need a few tools. Obviously you need a flashlight, I also recommend getting a headband light, these cost about $12 at your local Walmart and they work great. Take a pen and paper, a tape measure and your cell phone. You will need the tape measure to help figure out how many feet of insulation you will need to purchase for replacement. You will need the pen and paper to write it down and you will need to cell phone to call someone in case you need help. It’s amazing how no one in the house can seem to hear you in the crawlspace unless your banging on a pipe. Oh, I forgot to mention that it’s best to have someone home while you do this in case you need assistance.
Okay, you are ready to rock and roll in the crawlspace. You crawl in there and take your measurements and write them down. Pull out the pieces you plan to remove and be careful that the metal hangers don’t stick you in the eye. Now grumble a lot as you climb out dragging the old insulation. Now you have a whole new appreciation for fresh air and daylight !
Look at paper side of the insulation to get the R-value so you can purchase the proper replacement at your home improvement store. Also take note of the width of the insulation, it is also written on the paper. Now get cleaned up and head off to the store. Remember the keys for purchasing the right replacements are:
Faced or unfaced (with or without the Kraft paper backing)
Remember to buy new wire hangers and box cutter or carpet knife
Welcome home with your fresh batch of insulation. Now get dressed again and make sure there are fresh batteries in your light sources. Before you crawl back under there, make sure you have dressed correctly and have your hat, gloves, glasses, dust mask, cell phone, light sources, wire hangers, box cutter, measuring tape and insulation.
After you have dragged all the new insulation into the crawlspace, use your measuring tape to determine how long of a piece of insulation you will need. Then use the box cutter to cut it to size. The insulation will cut easier if you cut with the insulation facing you (paper on the ground) and if you compress or flatten it with your hand or a piece of wood. To install the insulation, simply push it up between the floor joists with the paper side up or away from you. Try to go to your happy place as the fiberglass showers down on you! Now place a wire hanger about every 16 inches. Try to avoid pushing the insulation all the way to the floor, instead just push it up far enough to leave an inch or two of space between the Kraft paper and the underside of the floor. This will create a little air pocket and will improve the performance of the insulation. Repeat this as needed. Now get the heck out of there and get some fresh air!