Frequently Asked Questions About Spray Foam
Is SPF Safe?
Closed Cell Foam is made of resins and does not contain formaldehyde. Free of harmful emissions- No VOC’s, CFC’s, HFC’s, HCFC’s, or formaldehyde, Spray Foam is recommended for use in homes for environmentally concerned or sensitive people.
For nearly two decades, this insulation has built a solid performance record in commercial and industrial applications. You have used it for years and just didn’t know it. Cellular foam has been used to make the soles of our shoes, fill sofa cushions, car dashboards and the pillows we sleep on. Its insulating properties have made it ideal for refrigerators, coolers, storage tanks, coffee cups, takeout boxes, disposable plates, refrigerated tractor trailers and even the space shuttle!
Protect Your Family’s Health – Since 1994, the US National Toxicology Program has listed fiberglass as a carcinogen and fiberglass insulation is required to carry a cancer warning label. Fiberglass is considered “green” based solely on that fact that it insulates yet there are studies that show microscopic fiberglass particles to be airborne and to cause severe cancerous health issues. Fiberglass, rockwool and cellulose insulation all collect dust. Studies show that homes with SPF have 60% less dust that homes with these three types.
Healthy Indoor Air Quality
A majority of the air you breathe in your home comes up from your crawl space. The average temperature of a typical vented crawl space in the Southeast region of the U.S. is perfect for breeding moisture and mold which can create a musty smell and release toxins that can affect your family’s health. Sealing your crawl space keeps mold away with a high quality moisture barrier and converts it into a semi-conditioned dry space. By preventing moisture and outdoor air infiltration into your home, you reduce the family health impact of airborne allergens, pollution and mold. SPF will not promote mold growth – foam offers no food value and will not support bacteria or fungal growth. It is not a source of food for rodents or insects.
What about Flammability?
Polyurethane insulation meets Class 1 flame and smoke characteristics. Once installed some local building codes require it to be covered by a 15 minute thermal or ignition barrier depending on the application. Typically your sheet rocked ceiling or walls will take care of this. Citing the Tech Checks and research done at the University of San Francisco and the University of Denver Poison Control Centers the following was concluded. Everything does burn and if it doesn’t burn and off gas then it melts and off gasses. The University of San Francisco Fire Research Center, in a study funded by NASA, chose 300 commonly found household building materials, which included closed cell spray polyurethane foam. These materials were burned and data collected on smoke development, flame spread and lethality of smoke in order to find out potential survivability in house fires. What was learned was that polyurethane was less dangerous in terms of off gassing, spread of flame and smoke development that that of spruce, fir and pine. In other words the wood used to assemble the wall that the foam is sprayed on is more dangerous than the foam itself.
In regards to the health effects of living with cured polyurethane foam a long-term study results reported in the Journal of American Medical Association confirmed that no long-term health risks are associated with exposure to cured polyurethane. The study went on to editorialize that many reports and news stories about the health effects and fire characteristics of spray polyurethane were unrealistic and unfounded in study.
Why use foam to insulate?
The real purpose of a building is for people to be able to isolate themselves from a hostile exterior climate. The purpose of insulation is to take this beyond minimum shelter to allow complete modern interior climate control. To achieve this climate isolation successfully requires full isolation between interior and exterior air, moisture and temperature. The two climates must not mix in the insulated building cavity. The system must also be reversible so the building may be both heated and cooled efficiently. Closed Cell Foam achieves the climate isolation necessary by its nature as a solid closed cellular plastic – fully adhered in the thin space of the building cavity. Exterior and interior climates cannot mix so no compromise of climate isolation can occur due to the exterior climatic conditions, however severe.
Spray foam insulation reduces drafts by cutting convection looping. Looping occurs when temperature differences between the outside and inside walls cause warm air to rise and cold air to sink in the cavity between the studs. This action initiates a convection current flowing up and down the walls, especially with fiberglass batt insulation. Spray foam insulation applied to the interior wall reduces the temperature difference of the air current activity. Spray foam insulates hard-to-reach areas and provides a seamless layer of insulation.
Spray foam insulation boasts high insulation value with the best R-value per inch of any readily available insulation. It allows for more insulation in a tighter space than conventional batt insulations, and performs well in controlling hot or cold temperatures. The spray foam is good at keeping heat out as well as in, giving homeowners a break on their air conditioning bills along with their heating bills.
Is Spray Foam Insulation “green”?
Is it green? Is quickly becoming one of the most frequently asked questions by consumers of all types of products today. Concern for the environmental future of the globe as well as economic implications to our personal finances has everyone looking for ways to reduce dependency on oil and carbon emissions. Better performing home insulation is a great place to start towards conservation and reducing your home’s carbon footprint. Insulation contributes towards significant heating and cooling efficiency and energy conservation, not to mention the health and comfort of its occupants- and it can help protect the environment through reduced emissions. Its superior insulating capabilities dramatically reduce heating and cooling demands, reducing harmful emissions from power plants. No other insulation material on the market is more effective and energy efficient than spray polyurethane foam (SPF). From this point of view, SPF is the greenest insulation material on the market and has the added benefit of providing significant operating cost savings as well. See www.sprayfoam.com for more information.
Are all spray foams the same?
No, all spray foams are not the same. Typically there are three types of Spray Polyurethane Foam for three different types of insulation needs:
Closed Cell Roofing foam : For exterior roof applications (flat roofs, commercial buildings, industrial needs) Often referred to as 3 pound foam. This is very rigid foam with a UV protective coating.
Closed cell foam : typically sprayed onto the interior surface of the roof decking, exterior walls and under the floor. Frequently referred to as 2 pound foam. This has an R value of 6.8-7.0 per inch.
Sound lessening foam: Also known as Open Cell or ½ pound foam. Not considered an air or vapor barrier. R value of 3.0-3.5 per inch.
How does Closed Cell Foam work?
The installer fabricates the foam on-site according to manufacturer’s instructions. He or she brings the application equipment and the foam’s components to the home-building site, where framing, electrical, and plumbing are complete, and exterior siding encloses the home. A controlled reaction among a number of mixed chemicals, a blowing agent, and some other additives, produces a wet foam mass. Using a specially designed sprayer, the installer sprays the mass onto or between wall surfaces.
This mass forms into a hardened cellular plastic material containing a low thermal conductivity gas, similar to the gas found between the panes in your insulated windows. The exposed surfaces of the rigid foam resemble a hard, tan colored shaving cream. Its solid nature provides soundproofing and insect resistance, and also seals cracks from unwanted gas and odor penetration.
Once installed, the foam remains rigid and does not settle or sag as most other forms of insulation do. This means that it adds structural strength to a house while adding very little weight providing greater protection from high force winds.
How long does it last? Indefinitely. As an inert, long lasting polymer plastic, a house wall or commercial structure is the perfect place for Closed Cell Foam to do its job for a very long time.
Is SPF just for new homes? Can I use it in my existing home, garage, workshop, etc?
Existing homes can be upgraded to significantly increase energy efficiency and comfort. By insulating and air-sealing the underside of the roof deck and the underside of the floor in the crawl space with Spray Foam, existing homes can typically save 30-40% on heating and cooling
Ducts Leak: According to the EPA, ducts are typically so leaky that more than 35% of the conditioned air is lost before it returns to the room the duct is trying to reach. This means that more than 20% of the energy used to condition the air in your home is being wasted. Improved energy efficiency and duct performance depends on completely sealing and insulating these ducts.
Ducts are under-insulated: In our hot southern summers, we are attempting to push cold air through the middle of a barely insulated and leaky pipe located in the middle of our superheated attics, where temperatures routinely reach 140+ degrees!
By installing Spray Foam Insulation in your attic and crawl space, we can create an air-seal which significantly reduces the heating and cooling energy costs for your home and the attic temperatures will be reduced from 140+ degrees to an average 70-80 degrees year round. This will keep your home considerably more comfortable, quieter and maintain healthier indoor air quality.
Are you experiencing drafty rooms? High energy bills?
To reduce the cost of heating and cooling our homes, most homeowners assume that more insulation is the answer. The reality is, that air leakage is actually the biggest thief of your energy dollars. Well sealed homes are considerably more economical to operate and much more comfortable to occupy. There are no cold drafts or hot areas, only controlled air flows throughout the house. In most homes unwanted air-leakage allows moist, heated air to migrate into cooler areas, such as insulated walls and ceilings. Here vapor condenses, which leads to mold, mildew, rot, and other moisture-related problems. Air-leakage is also a major source of allergy and asthma symptoms in most homes.