Removal of polystyrene chips in loft?

  Mrs fix it 19:30 10 Jan 2012

We are having free loft insulation done as part of government energy saving drive with EDF energy. The surveyor (sub contractor SIG Energy Management)said that they would put the top up loft insulation material over the top of existing polystyrene chips (been there since house built in 70's I think). Asked him about safety aspect after reading on-line there are issues with these chips. He said he hadn't heard of this. Customer Services advisor at SIG said she thought they should be removed too but they don't provide the service so did I want to cancel or I could remove them myself. Any thoughts as to how I go about this?

  TopCat® 20:28 10 Jan 2012

With care you could use a powered garden leaf collector, making sure you are wearing mouth and nose dust protection. Preferably the machine should have adjustable suction control. TC.

  SB23 20:53 10 Jan 2012

Just remember that if you remove the polystyrene chips yourself, they have to go to landfill, or in with your general waste, as there is nothing recyclable in them.

  namtas 21:26 10 Jan 2012

I don't want to alarm you but read this

  Forum Editor 23:24 10 Jan 2012


The beads used in home insulation have been processed,and do not pose a gas risk.

  carver 08:42 11 Jan 2012

Just put the top up layer on top of the existing polystyrene chips, after all this time you will create more of a risk if you try to remove them.

If you do want to remove them then the best way is plenty of large bags and a small plastic dust pan and brush and a lot of patience.

  onthelimit1 08:58 11 Jan 2012

I'd leave well alone and benefit from the additional insulation.

  Mrs fix it 18:11 11 Jan 2012

Thanks for your replies everyone. One of the safety issues I have heard about is that polystyrene can stick to electrical cables in the roofspace and over time they can damage the covering and make the wires inside brittle which could cause a problem with the electrics. I have now found a company locally who will remove the chips for me. Thanks again for all your comments.

  wiz-king 19:59 11 Jan 2012

You should also be aware that power cables are rated in free air, any insulation that is put round/over wiring will cause it to heat up slightly and overheat at normal maximum currents. Heating will make the plastic wire insulation brittle with time.

  namtas 21:34 11 Jan 2012


"The beads used in home insulation have been processed,and do not pose a gas risk"

Thanks for that

  spuds 11:17 12 Jan 2012

Contact your local council for advice about removal or whether the original chips should be left. If they do not have a section dealing with the Environment, then they should be able to provide a contact for further advice.

You could also try one of the trade organisations that the installers are registered with, for advice and help.

If you do remove the chips, then the leaf blower-sucker method is the easy and quicker way, because it get in all the voids with less dust and disturbance.

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