Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation Part 1

Services for Real Estate Pros with Indoor Air Quality Solutions, IAQS MRSA #4

Spray Foam Insulation Inspection and OdorsSpray Polyurethane Foam SPF Insulation.  Spray polyurethane foam SPF insulation, the best thing since sliced bread, the greatest energy saving “Green” insulation available, Right?

I can’t remember a building product with such a clearly defined love or hate following.  When I say love, it’s typically described by the “Green” movement as I did above, safe, energy efficient, “Green”, and even healthy. That’s right! 

It’s often touted as a product that will improve your indoor air quality.  These guys are hard core supporters and believers, a solid mix of manufactures, applicators, builders, and homeowners.

But if you’re on the hate side of the issue, you’re just as emotionally involved in the product.  You just see things from a different perspective.  Often the hate side of the love-hate relationship evolves from a regrettable spray polyurethane foam insulation experience, a botched job, miss-application, or unfortunate exposure to the SPF chemicals.  If your opinion of SPF is based on any of these issues, then your opinion is based on a vivid and tangible perspective based on a very personal experience.  That will drive passion.

How to ensure that your home has SPF installed properly and what you need to ensure your applicator knows his “stuff” is the reason for this series. While the products are all very similar, it’s the applicator and his or her training and experience that truly matters.  Following at a very close second, is your home and the impact of the sealed attic has on your existing home.

In the next few editions, we are going to discuss the unadvertised side of SPF.  Let’s face it, the industry has a great marketing department and the product works great when properly applied.  So we’ll be discussing the issues with misapplied SPF as well as the design changes that accompany altering a home’s attic from natural (passive) ventilation to a sealed mechanically semi-conditioned attic. 

It’s very important to understand the specific changes that take place when you seal your attic.  There are factors that must be considered such as a 50 year old attic with an accumulation of dust, debris, and possibly pesticides that are now a sealed attic and part of the indoor environment. NOT good. I personally don’t feel that any SPF applicator can clean a 50 year old attic well enough for me to feel comfortable breathing the now shared attic air that is now semi-conditioned occupied space.  And that is exactly what will happen when you seal an attic and semi-condition it. 

We’ll take a closer look at how to investigate SPF complaints and how to identify miss-applied SPF.  For example, some would prefer to collect air samples to identify the chemicals present in your home and attic as you see in photos A and B.  That will run you somewhere around $5,000.00. Ouch…

Or you can actually inspect the applied SPF and identify areas of unreacted SPF as shown in photo C or SPF on light fixtures as shown in photo D.  This approach will cost you or your builder nothing and the industry provides the guidance documents for the inspection.  Both approaches will provide you with information but the information gathered from the actual inspection of the applied product will provide more relevant information.

Whether you are a lover or a hater, these articles will provide you with solid information for spray polyurethane foam insulation. 

If you are trying to decide if SPF is going to be a part of your home’s remodel, addition, or home improvement, then the article titled “Is Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation right for you?” will be good information.  This article will help inform you of a few issues with an existing home with a traditionally vented attic that you may be considering reinsulating with SPF.  As good as SPF insulation is, sometimes it’s just not a good choice.

If you want to know how SPF can compromise your indoor air quality even when it is correctly installed then the article titled “Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation Build it Tight and Ventilate it Right” will be the series article for you.  A tightly sealed home will not meet the required ventilation rate and will require outdoor air supply.  Depending on where you live, this may require the use of an ERV (energy recovery ventilator), an HRV (heat recovery ventilator), or a mechanical dehumidifier.  All three will require alterations to your homes HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system.

If you want to know what it takes to properly inspect applied Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, then the article titled “Inspecting Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation What to Look For” will be perfect for you.  So you have an issue with your installed SPF, what is your next step?  Do you hire a chemist? An IAQ indoor air quality consultant? Well, I believe you should hire someone who is extremely familiar with inspecting the SPF.  Not just someone that has performed several SPF inspections but someone familiar with SPF.  Yes, there is a substantial difference.  Many who provide SPF investigations never look at the SPF.   They simply collect air samples and declare the product as dangerous and in need of removal.  While SPF can be misapplied, the issues with SPF aren’t always the result of misapplied SPF.   This article will help clarify who and how to properly inspect your installed SPF.

Stay tuned for great information regarding the use and misuse of Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation.




Comments (1)

Anna Hatridge
R Gilliam Real Estate LLC - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with R Gilliam Real Estate LLC

Interesting information and great way to present both sides of the issue. Not sure we have as much conversation about green homes in Missouri as you do in Florida.

Enjoy your weekend.

Jun 13, 2014 06:22 AM