Is there such a thing as “Pest Resistant Attic Insulation”? Very often – after we’ve scheduled their job, my client will ask, “Bob, you’re installing the insulation that kills bugs, right?”
To my knowledge, after 20+ years in the Atlanta market working for homeowners, I’ve found only one type of attic insulation that insects don’t like: Borate Formula Cellulose insulation.
1. What is Borate Cellulose insulation?
Cellulose insulation is recycled paper and light cardboard products. Truthfully, cellulose insulation is the “greenest of green” insulation products available to us! Because it is paper, it must be treated with a fire retardant. Borate is a natural mineral, cheap and easy to obtain, and it renders the cellulose fire retardant.
The exciting benefit of borate-treated cellulose (also referred to as Borate Formula cellulose) is that the boric acid kills insects. Once the insect comes in contact with the borate, and grooms itself, it ingests a tiny amount of the compound – and the insect dies.
2. Since It Kills Bugs, Is Borate Cellulose Insulation A Health Hazard to People or Pets?
The short answer is no. Here is your explanation. Our borate formula cellulose insulation is made up of two ingredients: paper and boric acid. Are you allergic to paper? I’ve yet to find anyone to tell me to remove their fresh new cellulose attic insulation because it was making them sick.
Here is what I’ve discovered about boric acid: “Both borax and boric acid are known as borates, which are compounds that come from the element boron. In all actuality, there wouldn’t be any boric acid without borox. Borax and boric acid are both naturally occurring compounds that are found in arid regions like the salt plains in Utah or Nevada.”
Boric Acid is used in eye drops. It’s also a topical antiseptic. I know that when we have cuts on our hands, it stings a bit when we’re loading the hopper with our cellulose! This may be why: “Boric acid was first used as a topical antiseptic by Lister in 1873. It has subsequently been used in eye washes, mouthwashes, skin powders and ointments. Boric acid has also been used as an irrigant for body cavities, including the pleural space, vagina, and rectum.” Sciencedirect.com
3. What Bugs Does The Boric Acid Kill?
Boric acid kills the bugs we like to hate the most! Any insect that comes into contact with your All Borate Cellulose insulation and grooms itself, will die. These insects include :
- Fleas (specifically the flea larvae)
4. Does the Boric Acid in my Cellulose Insulation Ever Need to be Replenished?
The short answer is no, the boric acid does not need to be replenished in your insulation. Remember, boric acid is added to your cellulose as a fire retardant. The EPA requires the cellulose manufacturers to warrant their insulation to satisfy the building codes, and the codes require the cellulose insulation to remain fire retardant for the lifetime of the structure.
It is because of this rule, that the insect-killing qualities of the boric acid do not diminish in your All Borate Cellulose insulation!
5. For Best Results, When it Comes to Killing Bugs in Your Attic, We Find These Three Practices Matter Most:
- Remove all of the old attic insulation, and apply a sanitizer solution.
- Thoroughly airseal the attic floor, using an expanding foam sealant.
- Install your fresh, Borate-formula cellulose insulation.
6. Does all cellulose insulation contain Boric Acid?
Not all cellulose insulation products include boric acid. You have to be specifically looking for that phrase, when requesting the “bug killing attic insulation”.
When shopping for attic insulation that pests don’t like, look for phrases such as:
- All-borate formula cellulose insulation
- Borate formula cellulose insulation
- Natural borate cellulose insulation
And get ready to turn your attic into the DEAD SEA!