Insulvac Blog

Government Introduces Loose Fill Insulation Testing Program

Gavin Clarke - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The NSW Government has introduced a free scheme to allow you to get your loose fill insulation tested for asbestos.  This is an important program in the wake of the Mr Fluffy incident where over 1,000 homes were affected by asbestos risk.  You can read about the Mr Fluffy issue here.

Now anyone with loose fill insulation in a wide range of Local Government Areas can apply to have their homes tested.  

Free home testing is available to owners of pre-1980s residential premises in the following 28 Local Government Areas in NSW:
  • Albury City Council
  • Bankstown City Council
  • Bega Valley Shire Council
  • Berrigan Shire Council
  • Bombala Council
  • Boorowa Council
  • Cooma Monaro Shire Council
  • Eurobodalla Shire Council
  • Goulburn Mulwaree Council
  • Greater Hume Shire Council
  • Hornsby Shire Council
  • Ku-ring-gai Shire Council
  • Lithgow City Council
  • Manly Council
  • Narrandera Shire Council
  • North Sydney Council
  • Orange City Council
  • Palerang Council
  • Parramatta City Council
  • Queanbeyan City Council
  • Snowy River Shire Council
  • The Hills Shire Council
  • Tumbarumba Council
  • Upper Lachlan Shire Council
  • Wagga Wagga City Council
  • Warringah Council
  • Yass Valley Shire Council
  • Young Shire Council

Complete the online registration form for the free testing program or call Service NSW on13 77 88 for more information.
Once your registration has been received, you will be sent an email confirmation for your records.

Insulvac can clean and replace old insulation.  Contact us for more information or if you have any questions.

Good weather brings an opportunity to prepare for summer

Gavin Clarke - Sunday, August 16, 2015

With the nice sunny weather recently, we are getting an increased call for our services.  It seems people are remembering the heat last year, even as the tail end of the cool temperatures endure, and decide it's time to get their insulation sorted out now, before it gets too hot. 

Our team are keen to get things moving now as it does get very hot in your roof.  The sooner we can get in there, get rid of the old insulation, give the entire cavity a thorough cleaning and install the most suitable modern insulation material, the better.  The sooner we get it done, the sooner you can relax, knowing that you are ready for the summer.  

Toxic dust extraction

Gavin Clarke - Wednesday, July 08, 2015

It is important to have your roof vacuumed and toxic dust extracted from ceilings when:

- your home has a damaged or collapsed roof from a storm or high winds

- you are renovating or extending your home

- you are adding skylights, electrical cables or attic ladders

- your ceiling is damaged or cracked

- you carry out any work in the ceiling


HEPA filters are used as part of our vacuum filtration systems. The HEPA filter traps the fine particles of toxic dust, chemical pollutants, asbestos particles and even the dust from mite faeces that can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms.


Lead can affect anybody, but children under the age of four and pregnant women are most at risk. Lead can affect children by causing learning and attention problems, hearing loss, slowed growth and behavior problems. Lead can affect adults too. Low levels of exposure can cause joint and muscle pain, high blood pressure and infertility. Higher levels can cause memory loss, nerve problems and at very high levels, fits.

Source: "The Lead Group. The Lead Education and Abatement Group" - Lead Safe Facts 1998

Do you have a health hazard in your roof cavity

Gavin Clarke - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Until they began renovating their old terrace house, Rosa and Berto had never given a thought to the space between the ceiling and the roof. But that all changed on the day a tradesman working in the roof accidentally put his foot through the ceiling, sending a shower of dirt and dust into their lounge room.

The problem with dust pouring (or even just leaking) into a house from the roof cavity isn’t just the fact that it’s dirty - it can also be harmful to the health of people living in the house. That’s why anyone who’s considering renovating their house, or who has a damaged ceiling, needs to be aware of this problem.

To understand why ceiling dust can be a hazard, it helps to know where the dust comes from. Some of it is small particles of air pollution which, over the years, sneak in through gaps under eaves and in the roof and gradually build up inside the cavity. Depending on the area in which you live, this pollution can include particles from traffic emissions or from industrial activities like mining, smelting or the manufacture of paint and plastics, for instance, or from pesticide spraying. Other sources of dust can include particles of paint and plaster from renovations in nearby houses, or particles of roofing material such as asbestos cement, slate or fibreglass. If the house has been sprayed to control household pests, there may also be traces of pesticide in the dust.

Contaminants like these can add up to an unhealthy mixture of dust which may contain lead, asbestos and other toxic substances. As long as this dust stays put inside the roof cavity, it’s unlikely to cause problems. When ceilings, ceiling roses and cornices are in good repair, there is no risk from ceiling dust. But if the dust enters living areas during home maintenance jobs or renovations, or because of water damage, or even from small cracks in the ceiling, it can be a health risk. Lead dust, for example, can cause serious health problems, especially for young children and pregnant women. Lead can affect the developing brains of young children and unborn babies, and affect their ability to learn. Ceiling dust can also trigger asthma attacks and cause respiratory problems.

If there’s a chance that dust in your ceiling cavity could be disturbed and leak into your living space, it’s important to get the dust removed. According to the Lead Advisory Service, this needs special equipment and should be done by a professional. In cases where a roof has been affected by storm damage, the cost of dust removal may be covered by insurance. If you’re planning renovations which may disturb ceiling dust, negotiate with the builder or roof repairer to have ceiling dust removed as part of their quote for the work. However, the Lead Advisory Service also points out that because ceiling dust has only recently been recognised as a health risk, the builder may be unaware of it and try to convince you that it’s not a problem.

In that case, you should provide them with factual information from the Service.

Fire Risk in your Ceiling

Gavin Clarke - Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Ceiling Cavity Fires:

Ceiling Cavity Fires are generally caused through a build up of heat from electrical wires or heat generated from ceiling down lights, These fires have usually been burning in the Ceiling Cavity long before the home owner are aware of it.

Electrical Wiring in the Ceiling Cavity:

Electrical wiring in the Ceiling Cavity should be placed securely on the side or top of the rafters and be visible, never store any material on electrical cables in the ceiling cavity.

Down Lights in the Ceiling Cavity:

Down Lights are extremely common now through out the family home & look great once installed, Home owners are now using Down Lights as their indoor light of choice when renovating old homes or building a new home.

The Warnings: 

Over the years Down Lights have been installed with out any consideration to the heat they generate, the heat from one Down Light is around 400 degrees at the transformer, more than enough to start a fire in the Ceiling Cavity.

Ceiling Insulation & Fires:

Ceiling Insulation & fire are extremely common & are usually associated with heat produced from Electrical Wiring or Down Lights, There are two common types of Ceiling Insulation – Ceiling Batts or Pump in Insulation.

Most Ceiling Batts used by an authorised installer will be rodent & fire resistant; these are installed by placing each Ceiling Batt in-between the Ceiling rafters, while installing the Ceiling Batts the installer will lift all Electrical Wiring & place it on the top of the Ceiling Batts allowing the Electrical Wiring to breathe. This will keep the Electrical Wiring visible & as it was suppose to be installed.

Most Pump in Insulation used by an authorised installer is rodent & fire resistant; Note – the fire retardant on Pump in Insulation only last up to12 months; this came to light after working with the NSW Fire Department to remove burning Pump in Insulation in a Ceiling Cavity in March 2009.

Pump in Insulation is pumped into the Ceiling Cavity from an external source i.e. Pump Truck, This is blown into the roof cavity using a large Vacuum type hose. By blowing the insulation into the Ceiling Cavity you do get an over spray of insulation on Electrical Wiring & Down Lights, Once the insulation has been installed the installer should walk through the Ceiling Cavity & remove the excess insulation from these area’s.

Over View: 

It is my opinion that over time pump in insulation allows Electrical Wiring to sink below the surface of the pump in insulation causing extra heat to be generated, this can cause a smouldering effect in the insulation casing the cardboard coating on the gyprock to catch fire. 

Wind Factor: 

The Ceiling Cavity is not air tight, this means on days where there is wind blowing outside it is more than likely the air is moving inside the Ceiling Cavity, this is a concern when you have Pump in Insulation fitted; if the insulation is blowing around in your Ceiling Cavity it can end up anywhere i.e. on Electrical Wiring, Down Lights or Bathroom heat lights, this is a Fire concern.

Benefits of Ceiling Batts are: 

One of the main differences between a Pump in Insulation Vs a Ceiling Batts is a ceiling batt is easy to remove if you are requiring renovations, installing new Down Lights, IXL tastic heat lights etc. Trying to do renovations with Pump in Insulation in your Roof Cavity is a nightmare.

Ceiling Dust: 

All ceiling dust should be removed by a ADRA approved Ceiling Vacuuming Specialist, ADRA is The Australian Dust Removal Association & follows strict guidelines for removing harmful substances, removing the dust from your ceiling cavity can have huge benefits for Asthma & Allergy sufferers. Dust particles find their way inside the house via air vents, down lights, heat lights, crack in cornices & painted ceiling boards.

Once Roof Cavity Vacuuming has been done; you will notice less dust on furniture throughout the house, saving you time cleaning.

'Mr Fluffy' & 'Cool N Cosy' Insulation Alert

Gavin Clarke - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

‘Mr Fluffy’ or ‘Cool N Cosy’ type blown in insulation has been found to have traces of asbestos in it in certain areas of Sydney. If you are at all concerned about this insulation we can get it tested and then if it is found to be positive, in regards to asbestos particles, we can arrange for a qualified asbestos removalist to carry out the work.
Alternatively we can simply just vacuum it out anyway, as even the non-asbestos type material (mainly shredded paper impregnated with chemicals) is not a very effective insulation and can be harmful to your health. We can then replace it with an environmentally safe material that comes with the manufacturers lifetime guarantee (50+ years).

So many roofs in Sydney

Gavin Clarke - Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lately we have been inundated with requests to clean out people's roof cavities all over Sydney.  It could be a result of the booming housing market, where people are paying top dollar for Sydney properties, even old and run down ones, then realising how important good insulation is.  It could be all the hot weather that we are having, and people wondering why their homes do not seem to be keeping out the heat as well as expected.  It could be the recent upsurge in DIY home renovators getting their hands dirty and actually having a look in their roof cavities to see what goes on up there.  

Either way, we are very happy to help out.  Our expertise in knowing just what is required to clean out a roof cavity and get it insulated properly with the latest insulation products and solutions, combined with our top class machinery, safety standards and professionalism, means that whether you have bought yourself a house and need to bring it up to speed, or you have been sweltering in the Sydney heat without enough protection, or you want to get busy turning your home into the latest DIY masterpiece, Insulvac Insulation and Vacuuming will sort you out. 

Mr Fluffy Insulation Asbestos Case

Gavin Clarke - Thursday, October 16, 2014

The 'Mr Fluffy' insulation story continues to evolve with a homeowner suing the Commonwealth Government in the New South Wales Dust Diseases Tribunal, alleging it was negligent after knowing that Mr Fluffy products were dangerous, yet failing to stop them being installed.  The full story can be found at the on the ABC News Website 

Mr Fluffy insulation has been a major debacle due to the loose asbestos fibres causing all kinds of trouble being placed in people's roofs as what was believed to be a really good insulation solution. It is now a complete disaster, both politically and for all of the unfortunate homeowners who have Mr Fluffy in their roof.  

Insulvac is committed to safety and our Insulation vacuuming service is one way to clean out your roof.  

Lead is a dangerous substance

Gavin Clarke - Friday, October 10, 2014

Here us some background information about Lead Poisoning from WikiPedia.  It helps to understand the risks of lead in the household.  If your house is older it cold be a potential source of environmental lead dust.  Contact Insulvac and we can give you our expert opinion and offer a solution to ensure safety and peace of mind. 

"Some lead compounds are colorful and are used widely in paints and lead paint is a major route of lead exposure in children. It has been found that 38 million housing units in the US had lead-based paint, down from the 1990 estimate of 64 million. The proportions would be similar in Australia.

Deteriorating lead paint can produce dangerous lead levels in household dust and soil. Deteriorating lead paint and lead-containing household dust are the main causes of chronic lead poisoning. The lead breaks down into the dust and since children are more prone to crawling on the floor, it is easily ingested.

Many young children like eating things that are not food. Even a small amount of a lead-containing product such as a paint chip or a sip of glaze can contain tens or hundreds of milligrams of lead. Eating chips of lead paint presents a particular hazard to children, generally producing more severe poisoning than occurs from dust. Because removing lead paint from dwellings, e.g. by sanding or torching creates lead-containing dust and fumes, it is generally safer to seal the lead paint under new paint (excepting moveable windows and doors, which create paint dust when operated). Alternately, special precautions must be taken if the lead paint is to be removed." – Wikipedia

From WikiPedia – An X ray demonstrating the characteristic finding of lead poisoning in humans—densemetaphyseal lines.


Insulvac Rail industry Safety Permit

Gavin Clarke - Saturday, July 05, 2014

Gavin Clarke and two other Insulvac team members have completed the Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) Rail Industry Safety Induction (RISI) course, which permits them to work near railway lines. 

These are obtained by attending a full day course followed by a medical examination (including a urine sample) which if you Pass gives you a permit to carry out work near railway lines. The permit (a plastic ID card) is valid for 5 years.


Rail Industry Safety Induction (RISI) is a training course that introduces participants to the key generic hazards of an operating rail environment, including electrical safety awareness. A RISI card is a form of Rail Safety Worker identification card. 

Contractors who are not holders of a TfNSW RISI card will not be allowed to enter the Sydney Trains network. 

Note: RISI Cards issued by RailCorp will continue to be recognised for use in the Sydney Trains Network and will remain valid until the expiry date shown on the card. Upon expiry these cards will be replaced with TfNSW card. Contractors who have RISI cards issued by other rail operators will need to convert their existing cards to a TfNSW RISI card. 

Only RISI cards obtained from TfNSW RISI training providers will be converted to TfNSW cards. As at January 2011 requests for conversion of cards issued by other RTO's are no longer accepted by TfNSW. All requests for conversions must be through the training provider that initially delivered the RISI training. The Insulvac team is experienced, qualified and appropriately trained for rail work. 

More info click here