chart of estimated r-values per inch for existing insulation
Chart: Courtesy of Department of Energy
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Size Up Your Existing Insulation (and Get Rid of The Bad Stuff)

Grab a tape measure and a flashlight to see what kind of insulation you already have in the attic and how deep it is. Then use the numbers in the chart at right to estimate its R-value. Pull up and dispose of any material that's compressed, water stained, or moldy—it's useless. Owners of houses built before 1990 take note: If what you see is lightweight, grainy, loose-looking insulation with shiny flecks, it could be vermiculite from a mine with asbestos deposits. Get it tested, and if necessary, call in a pro to remove and haul it away safely.
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