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  1. #1
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    Default Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Vermiculite in attic how do you report it…Major Safety concern in summary, just mention in body of report in what colors? Red...does it need quick attention? (I wouldn't think so, as long as it’s not disturbed) Blue?? (HIP SW) How much attention do you bring to it?




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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    ABCs of Asbestos | Region 8 | US EPA

    click on link and add to your report


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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Ewald View Post
    Vermiculite in attic how do you report it…Major Safety concern in summary, just mention in body of report in what colors? Red...does it need quick attention? (I wouldn't think so, as long as it’s not disturbed) Blue?? (HIP SW) How much attention do you bring to it?


    in my report it would be in black.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marc M View Post
    in my report it would be in black.
    As in you report is 'all black'? Or do you have different colors of text for different things?

    Different colors disappear when reports are faxed, printed on gray scale laser printer, etc., thus using different colors is not a practical why to designate difference levels of urgency or that something is 'sort of bad', 'sort of good', 'real bad', or 'okie dokie'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    The EPA site has some good information. The stuff is out there. Folks need to know about it but there is no reason for them to start panicking; after all, they've been exposed to asbestos fiber their entire life. Having it up in the attic just means they need to be more careful about how they do remodeling or when they go into the attic. If they follow precautions they'll be fine.

    Just say what you think. Don't use colors. A professional's report should look professional.

    What's with the colors? For that matter what's with the gimicks on reports - the silly icons like stop signs and fire hydrants and such.

    Every once in a while when I'm doing expert witness stuff, I have to try and wade through another inspector's report. When the report has a bunch of colors or icons plastered all over the place I can feel the bile rising in the back of my throat. Those reports are so uncomfortable to read. They either make my eyes hurt or I have to keep flipping back and forth trying to figure out what all of the silly icons or symbols are supposed to mean. Are our customers somehow incapable of understanding ordinary English writing because they are buying a house?

    Kids in grade school have colored stickers to help them understand stuff; by the time we're adults we don't need the stickers and bright colors anymore in order to understand something and many of us are irritated by them.

    If I'd ever received test results from my doctor, or asked my bank to send me a report, and those documents was covered with colored ink - particularly red which research has shown raises ire in readers - I'd change my doctor or the bank.

    Ditch the colored ink, my friend. You're a professional; write a professional report.

    Just one person's opinion. Worth the price charged, I suppose.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P. O'Handley View Post

    Ditch the colored ink, my friend. You're a professional; write a professional report.

    Just one person's opinion. Worth the price charged, I suppose.

    ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

    Mike
    Hmmmmm, I didn't even get whatever you charged from that. You probably use black and white photos, too. Do you ever underline anything, use a bold font, or italics? Personally, I don't use colored text, but that hardly makes my report more "professional" than someone who does. Your ability to structure a sentence, communicate a message, and make your meaning clear to a layman establishes your professionalism.

    Step off that high horse and walk on the ground.

    - - - Updated - - -

    As for vermiculite, just report that you found vermiculite and that vermiculite from some mines has been found to contain asbestos. You recommend testing to determine if this vermiculite contains asbestos.

    That's all.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    I will many times put health and safety issues in red...and a picture of it in the body of the report. My reports are in a pdf file, are 35plus pages and are easily emailed. Do people still own fax machines? We scan everything and email it. No fax on an I phone....yet

    Matt Fletcher
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    Last edited by Matt Fletcher; 04-14-2013 at 06:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    MIKE O HANDLING

    post one of your reports would love to see one

    cvf


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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    PM me your email.

    OT - OF!!!

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post

    As for vermiculite, just report that you found vermiculite and that vermiculite from some mines has been found to contain asbestos. You recommend testing to determine if this vermiculite contains asbestos.

    That's all.
    No. Do not recommend testing. A square foot of vermiculite here may have no asbestos and a square foot there might have asbestos. Read what the EPA says. They do not recommend testing. Always assume it has asbestos.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    I have dealt now with three attics containing vermiculite, as a weatherization contractor. In the first, I was a naive newbie. I may have overlooked work needed, under the vermiculite. I didn't test it. I buried it under new insulation that only makes a ruinous problem for someone who WILL have to dig under the bigger pile.

    I did better in the next two, by getting it tested, finding justification to handle and dispose as trash. I removed way more than 99%, and know results greatly improved house value. I think any veins of bad stuff removed, are better for us all, in a landfill. I see the EPA advice as hand-wringing and mean.

    I post my significant experiences to a blog or web site, in the common interest, not knowing where this will lead, but hopeful of some reward. I don't do this dirty work for the little money involved. Here is the report of the first experience. Here is a report of the second experience, that is readily found for popularity, in a Google search of "dispose vermiculite." The third is a job in process, and will be posted when finished. The vermiculite here was salted upon good batt insulation in a tragic one-two process when the house was built in 1965. The vermiculite had negative insulation value, and ruined the practical value of the batts. All was now ugly trash. The transfer station was uninterested in the testing, and not concerned about the 700 cubic feet of compressed fiberglass batts now expanding, taken for not enough money to someday repair the insult to the Earth. No report asked to be seen. Just dump as trash. I think that laxity at the transfer station was unwise, not good for anyone. Some day, a hurtful leash may result.

    My first vermiculite attic will surely prove tragic too. Dilution worsens pollution.

    I believe in the testing, that thorough examination of three one-gallon samples is representative of hundreds of gallons. Surely there are bases for the test protocols.

    So, home inspectors, suggest that removal is not likely to involve abatement, and can improve value. Workers and curious children will breathe easier, thereafter. I will hope for you, that a hand-wringing moron won't interfere. And, to that moron, ask where abated material of any kind goes. Wherever, we are better off, especially where there has not been dilution with otherwise-good construction materials.


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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lamb View Post
    No. Do not recommend testing. A square foot of vermiculite here may have no asbestos and a square foot there might have asbestos. Read what the EPA says. They do not recommend testing. Always assume it has asbestos.
    I stand on what I said. Only an idiot who loves to be involved in lawsuits, wouldn't recommend testing.
    And you should know what happens when you "assume". The EPA is hardly the last word on anything, as they are a political organization.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Ewald View Post
    Vermiculite in attic how do you report it…Major Safety concern in summary, just mention in body of report in what colors? Red...does it need quick attention? (I wouldn't think so, as long as it’s not disturbed) Blue?? (HIP SW) How much attention do you bring to it?


    As a home inspector i will recommend consult an asbestos professional for further investigation vermiculite may mixed with asbestos.
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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    I stand on what I said. Only an idiot who loves to be involved in lawsuits, wouldn't recommend testing.
    And you should know what happens when you "assume". The EPA is hardly the last word on anything, as they are a political organization.
    Please tell me what idiot got sued who told their client to assume the vermiculite in the attic has asbestos according to the EPA's recommendations?

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    I tell clients to assume the vermiculite contains asbestos unless testing proves otherwise. And yes, I do recommend having the material tested. If it does contain asbestos, it can put a severe crimp (logistically and financially) in any future renovations plans within the house. People want to know if they are buying a possible problem that can impact their time living in the house and also when they go to sell the house later on. I don't preach fire and brimstone when it comes to vermiculite but I don't soft sell it either.

    Keep in mind that all your client needs is to get the right/wrong contractor in the house to see the vermiculite and convince the client you screwed up or didn't report something. I had a client from an inspection I did last year call me to say his handyman said there is knob and tube wiring in the basement and that the home inspector should have caught it. I remember scouring the bejezus out of that basement during the inspection and knew there was none there. But the client still had an attitude on the phone with me because of what the handyman said and he expected me to take responsibility for the alleged omission. I asked the client to look at the cable in question and describe it to me. It was 1st generation cloth braided romex and not K&T. I offered to come to house to look at it but the client never took me up on the offer and that was the last I heard from him.

    CYA.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    I don't understand where you are coming from.

    If an asbestos tester does not find asbestos in his samples, he is not saying that there is no asbestos in the attic. He can only say there is no asbestos in the vermiculite he sampled.

    The point of the EPA recommendation is that testing will not be conclusive of all the insulation present, and that some areas of the vermiculite might contain asbestos, and others might not. And the occupant needs know this.

    This is definitely erring on the side of caution. What about this does not make sense?

    Mike Lamb
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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Mike, is this in reference to my post?

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Mike, is this in reference to my post?
    Yes, it is. Sorry, I should have quoted.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Ok. But I'm not sure what you mean in terms of not understanding where I am coming from. I think I illustrated my stance pretty clearly. Especially the part about covering your own butt. Not sure what else I can say.

    As for testing of vermiculite for possible asbestos, the limitations of the testing are up to the testing company to explain. I don't know how extensive the testing is and what the limitations of the testing are. But I think I see where you're coming from in the sense that you feel that the recommendation for testing is in conflict with the possibility that the test is only a small sample and not representative of the entire attic interior.....correct? Assuming that is the case, I would again have to defer to the asbestos testing company as they are the experts in this field. We just identify, document, and make a recommendation.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    . But I think I see where you're coming from in the sense that you feel that the recommendation for testing is in conflict with the possibility that the test is only a small sample and not representative of the entire attic interior.....correct? .
    Yes. Small sample, large sample, it doesn't matter..

    I am interested in covering my client's butt and sticking to the EPA recommendations does that quite sufficiently.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    To each his own.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lamb View Post
    Please tell me what idiot got sued who told their client to assume the vermiculite in the attic has asbestos according to the EPA's recommendations?
    Some day, I'll be able to name you. But, maybe that EPA recommendation will get you off the hook for only a few grand in legal fees.

    Who'll sue you, you might incredulously ask. The seller of the house with the vermiculite whose buyer just walked away from the deal because you told them that they should assume that the vermiculite has asbestos. Over the years, I've only known of two houses that I inspected with vermiculite that the buyer or seller had tested. One was hot and one wasn't.

    I saw an attic with vermiculite today. I thought of you.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    One was hot and one wasn't.

    I saw an attic with vermiculite today. I thought of you.
    Hot flashes?

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Lamb View Post
    Please tell me what idiot got sued who told their client to assume the vermiculite in the attic has asbestos according to the EPA's recommendations?


    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Some day, I'll be able to name you. But, maybe that EPA recommendation will get you off the hook for only a few grand in legal fees.

    Who'll sue you, you might incredulously ask. The seller of the house with the vermiculite whose buyer just walked away from the deal because you told them that they should assume that the vermiculite has asbestos.
    Hmm. Worried about the sellers are you? Maybe you can sit on my jury.
    Go ahead and cover your ass, Lon. I work for buyers, not sellers.

    My defense would be sound, logical and backed by the references of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    And though I obviously disagree with you, I somehow refrained from insinuating that you are an idiot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Over the years, I've only known of two houses that I inspected with vermiculite that the buyer or seller had tested. One was hot and one wasn't.
    I don't know what that has to do with anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    I saw an attic with vermiculite today. I thought of you.
    I'm flattered but please stay on the joists. I don't want you falling through the ceiling. Be safe out there.

    Last edited by Mike Lamb; 04-16-2013 at 08:31 PM.
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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Henderson View Post
    Some day, I'll be able to name you. But, maybe that EPA recommendation will get you off the hook for only a few grand in legal fees.

    Who'll sue you, you might incredulously ask. The seller of the house with the vermiculite whose buyer just walked away from the deal because you told them that they should assume that the vermiculite has asbestos. Over the years, I've only known of two houses that I inspected with vermiculite that the buyer or seller had tested. One was hot and one wasn't.

    I saw an attic with vermiculite today. I thought of you.
    I suppose that might be the way it is in Colorado but here buyers don't have to give a reason for walking away from a house and seller's, and nobody else - including the buyer's own agent - are entitled to see the report results without the client's permission.

    Put the shoe on the other foot. You recommend your client have it tested for asbestos, the client does so and the test comes back negative. A year goes by and the seller's employer transfers the seller to another state and the house goes up for sale. Another buyer comes in and has the vermiculite tested and that sample tests positive. Where are you then? Arent' you in the same crosshairs as the "idiot" that told his/her client to assume that the vermiculite contained asbestos who you imagine the seller will sue? Won't that seller want to sue you now?

    It's been my experience that lawyers don't take cases they don't think they can win, unless the client is extremely wealthy and the case isn't accepted on contingency. A disgruntled seller mad at a home inspector who was doing what he gets paid to do - inspect and tell the truth based on his training and experience - isn't a very attractive client and the home inspector won't be a very tempting target.

    There are probably hundreds of thousands of homes being lived in right now by folks who had their vermiculite tested and got negative results; but who actually have asbestos-containing vermiculite in their homes. That's why the EPA is recommending folks err on the side of caution and tell folks to assume that it contains asbestos and that's what Mike is trying to make you understand.

    A couple of years ago I had a client who makes his living representing folks with asbestos-related injury. His attic had about a foot of blown-in cells over about three inches of vermiculite. I came out of the attic and started to explain it to him. Told him he could get it tested but that testing might not..... That's when he interrupted me and finished my sentence, "actually show any asbestos when it could actually be there. Yeah, I know. I'm not worried about it as long as it's encapsulated under all of that cellulose. If we have to do any remodeling we'll take appropriate precautions."

    Interesting take for a guy who makes his living by suing folks who he deems responsible for explosing his clients' to asbestos.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    From reading this thread I assume when you say test for asbestos one is taking more than one sample from more than one area of the attic?

    I have been told that there should be a minimum of three samples collected from three different areas.

    However having said that, the best recommendation is to leave vermiculite alone if its in an attic which is under negative pressure anyway. Unless of course there is going to be work done in the attic which changes the equation.


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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P. O'Handley View Post
    I suppose that might be the way it is in Colorado but here buyers don't have to give a reason for walking away from a house and seller's, and nobody else - including the buyer's own agent - are entitled to see the report results without the client's permission.
    Here it's the same.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P. O'Handley View Post
    Put the shoe on the other foot. You recommend your client have it tested for asbestos, the client does so and the test comes back negative. A year goes by and the seller's employer transfers the seller to another state and the house goes up for sale. Another buyer comes in and has the vermiculite tested and that sample tests positive. Where are you then? Arent' you in the same crosshairs as the "idiot" that told his/her client to assume that the vermiculite contained asbestos who you imagine the seller will sue? Won't that seller want to sue you now?
    Actually you are fine and in fact, you have removed yourself from the crosshairs. Mike asked me to name some idiot who got in trouble for assuming. My guess is that few HIs fail to recommend testing, so there are few HIs actually vulnerable to be sued for failing to recommend testing. By recommending testing, you have moved the responsibility to the company that tested the asbestos (as long as you didn't instruct anyone on how to conduct the test) By your argument you'd have exposure for recommending that a foundation be evaluated by an engineer or a furnace be certified safe by a HVAC tech.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P. O'Handley View Post
    It's been my experience that lawyers don't take cases they don't think they can win, unless the client is extremely wealthy and the case isn't accepted on contingency. A disgruntled seller mad at a home inspector who was doing what he gets paid to do - inspect and tell the truth based on his training and experience - isn't a very attractive client and the home inspector won't be a very tempting target.
    Actually and sadly, not the case at all. Since, I am on the licensing committee here in Colorado, I've heard all kinds of sad tales about legal actions involving HIs. Attorneys apparently are more than happy to take on a complaint from a seller against an inspector with whom, the seller has no contractual arrangement. Remember, that E&O companies will settle for the deductible with no fight at all. So, many times an attorney doesn't have to do much work beyond filing a complaint and having a conversation with the insurance company's attorney.
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P. O'Handley View Post
    There are probably hundreds of thousands of homes being lived in right now by folks who had their vermiculite tested and got negative results; but who actually have asbestos-containing vermiculite in their homes. That's why the EPA is recommending folks err on the side of caution and tell folks to assume that it contains asbestos and that's what Mike is trying to make you understand..
    What Mike and apparently you, cannot understand, that EPA doesn't give a damn about whether you are sued or not. The EPA's folksy advice is directed at laymen home owners. That's fine for them. The followup advice of just leaving the stuff alone is also good..........for them, but for professionals like us, the bar is set a little higher. I submit that the EPA's advice is weak cover for you as a professional. I tell folks all the time to just leave asbestos undisturbed, and there is nothing wrong with telling people that the EPA assumes that vermiculite contains asbestos, but as a professional who has to practice some CYA, you should add that you still advice testing it. This argument that testing isn't conclusive so why bother; sounds like an argument waiting to get trounced in court. I'd much rather move the responsibility for determining the asbestos content to anyone but me. I wonder how many cases there actually are where one test was negative and a later test on the same attic was positive? I'd be surprised if there are more than a handful of attics that have been tested twice.

    And finally, we need an emoticon for an olive branch. Using the term "idiot" was inappropriate and not accurate. Your's and Mike's basis for advice to clients regarding vermiculite isn't idiotic at all. You have a rational basis for it from the EPA's website advice. I submit that the EPA's recommendation is not sufficient or adequate for professionals in our business. We need to take one more step if for no other reason than our personal CYA.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Here's what I know about testing vermiculite insulation - They say the asbestos fibers will settle down to the bottom layer if there is any movement at all. I would add that if there is an air leak into the attic from below, the microscopic particles of asbestos will be moving upwards, most likely, and then slowly falling back down.

    An asbestos particle can float in the air for hours. It is the needle-like shape that makes asbestos a problem in the lungs. It will lodge itself in the tissue and can't be coughed out.

    The labs should do the sampling, because if the inspector takes the samples, he becomes a target for sometime down the road - are you a certified sample-collector? Where did you sample, how did you sample, transport, etc?

    The lab should test 10 samples from all over the attic. I would add they should take a sample for every sack of Zonolite, if that is what was used, every sack should be tested.

    I am told that the lab tech will count 100 fibers and if 0ne of those is asbestos, you got 1%. That could be poppycock, because it doesn't sound very scientific, does it?

    If the lab tech does not count any asbestos fibers at all, he will report "Less than 1%". That at least is how testing is done here.

    I see no value in a test that does not give a conclusive result. I see no value in disturbing vermiculite all over the attic in the name of testing. I provide literature for my clients to read and allow them to decide how to proceed with it.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Canadian Real Estate Assoc.
    http://www.crea.ca/sites/default/files/Vermiculite.pdf

    Normally, air moves from the living space into the attic, reducing the possible movementof asbestos to the indoors. Homeowners can seal all cracks and holes in the ceilings ofthe rooms below the insulation by caulking around light fixtures and the attic hatch. Thiswill help prevent insulation from sifting through. If vermiculite insulation is in the walls, thehomeowner can apply caulking around window and door frames, along baseboards andaround electrical outlets to seal potential leak points as a precautionary step.

    Health Canada
    It's Your Health - Vermiculite Insulation Containing Amphibole Asbestos [Health Canada, 2009]

    If its not going to cost a lot?

    Its also not up to me to tell them to have it removed.


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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    I have seen vermiculite pellets on the floor in the basement that fell down inside the wall cavities from the attic. How does the EPA recommend you handle something like that?

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Note the vermiculite insulation on top of the panel.

    Turned out it contained no asbestos.

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    Default Re: Vermiculite in the Attic ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Because it is light and useless I would recommend getting rid of any if found.
    There are places you can bring Vermiculite without consequences.
    Double bag it and make sure you take all the precautions recommended by Asbestos removal guidelines.
    Now don't get the wrong Idea that you would ever want to tell your client how to do it or even recommend this to them. Again use your canned comment on possible Asbestos and should be tested or removed.
    "Light and useless" is your opinion, right? Or did you get that from a training video?

    Vermiculite is a fantastic fire barrier, as it is a mineral.
    When you get rid of it, do you clean out all the cracks between the planks? How? What kind of mask should you wear? How long should you stay in the attic before you come out for a break? I'm jerking your chain, Kevin. Best to leave it alone, and cover it.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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