Is foam a fire hazard?
No. SPF is no more of a fire hazard than fiberglass and cellulose. SPF is a cellular thermo set plastic which means if it comes in contact with direct flame, it will blacken and char and smoke. All smoke is toxic and dangerous if inhaled, but foam does not increase the risk of fire, and does not fuel a fire. Foam is a Class I building material just like fiberglass and cellulose. Foam has a flame spread rating below 25 and a smoke development rating below 450. Closed attic assemblies have performed well in fires by creating an air barrier and eliminating the air currents that fuel fires in vented attics. SPF is endorsed by many fire departments and fire marshals. Local building codes require ignition or thermal barrier application depending on where the sprayfoam is applied, please check with local code officials.
Doesn't my house need to breathe?
No, buildings need to be built tight, but ventilated right. Make sure your HVAC installer or MEP knows you plan on using spray foam insulation which is an air barrier. Follow ASHRAE 62.2 guidelines for ventilation. Remember, by building tight, the air exchanges are under your control rather than Mother Nature’s control.
Is foam green and why?
Spray foam insulation is considered a green product for several of its characteristics. Most importantly because of the significant impact it has on reducing the need for fossil fuels through energy savings, but also because SPF is also environmentally friendly by containing no ozone depleting chemicals, no CFCs, HCFC, asbestos, formaldehyde and no glass fibers. Glass fibers have been listed by the EPA as a suspected carcinogen. In fact, most fiberglass insulation comes with a warning label on the wrapper. During the early 1970’s, formaldehyde was present in early commercial foam (called urea formaldehyde) but is no longer in use. Today, spray foam is totally free of both glass fibers and formaldehyde.
Should I be concerned for my family’s health when using spray foam insulation?
Absolutely not! SPF insulation is a safe, clean product. There are no “off gassing” concerns for your family once the initial process is complete. (Off gassing is the evaporation of volatile chemicals in non-metallic materials at normal atmospheric pressure.) In fact, Spray Foam has been used in many of the American Lung Association’s “Health House” project homes.
My current insulation is significantly less than when it was originally installed. Does SPF last?
SPF is considered a stable insulation meaning that it will not settle, sag, or deteriorate over time. The R-value on the day you install foam will last the lifetime of the structure. The stability of SPF also eliminates many fibers, dust and allergens that cellulose and fiberglass release as they deteriorate making for a much healthier indoor air quality and significantly less dusting.
How much does SPF cost compared to other insulation methods?
Spray Foam Insulation is considered to be more expensive to install than most conventional insulation, but this really isn’t a fair comparison. When using a SPF system it actually seals the building and eliminates energy-robbing air leakage along with the problems associated with moisture, mold and mildew and condensation. Plus, it provides many other benefits including consistent comfort, lower utility bills, a quieter interior environment, etc… The typical owner will actually be in positive cash flow from the day they move in when you factor in the incredible savings in comparison with the same home insulated with typical insulation.
How long does SPF take to cure?
The foam is created within a few seconds after spraying. Foam expands rapidly to 120 times its original volume right before your eyes. It completely cures within several minutes.
Does closed cell sprayfoam absorb water?
No, actually it repels water. If placed in water it will float, and on removal, it will dry rapidly with no loss of insulating properties. A roof or plumbing leak would moisten the insulation, but it will not damage the foam. Other insulation methods such as fiberglass and cellulose can’t make the same claim.
Can SPF insulation damage dry wall or cause dry wall bowing?
No. Half pound (0.5lb) SPF insulation is first allowed to cure, and then it is trimmed to the edge of the cavity. It cannot expand once it is cured. Two pound (2.0lb) SPF is far denser and, as such, doesn’t need to completely fill the cavity. Your drywall is safe with SPF insulation.
Does SPF insulation have building code approvals?
SPF has approval of all major building codes in the United States. Spray foam insulation is one of the most rigorously tested insulation products ever created.
Does SPF adhere to all surfaces?
SPF insulation adheres very well to steel studs and other materials such as cement board, wood, metal roofs and concrete. Because spray foam insulation will adhere to almost all surfaces, areas or objects that do not require insulation need to be protected from over-spray with plastic or tape.
How does SPF compare to SIPs or ICF wall configurations?
While SIPs and ICF are excellent wall configurations, they can be significantly more expensive, take significantly longer to construct and be very limiting to the design of the structure. The most value for the money is to use conventionally built structure and use SPF.
How long will it take to complete the job?
SPF applications can be completed in the same time frame as conventional insulations such as fiberglass and cellulose. SPF will have little to no impact on construction schedules.
What/How can a builder save on other building materials?
Because SPF is an air barrier, builders can significantly reduce HVAC tonnage by correctly sizing the HVAC mechanicals to work with an air barrier, and electrical requirements are often less because of the reduced amperage requirements of the smaller HVAC equipment. Radiant barrier (or tech shield OSB) and vents are also not required on closed attic assemblies. Canned lights do not need to be insulated in a closed attic assembly, saving significant cost on lighting.
What is the smell during application?
There is a smell during the application. This is caused by amines released in the air during the exothermic chemical reaction used to make the foam. Sprayfoam is non toxic after it has cured, but should be avoided during application unless you are appropriately protected. Similar to paint overspray, the amines can get in unprotected eyes and lungs and on unprotected skin or clothing and is difficult to remove. The smell is typically absent after a few hours with fresh air ventilation.
Under what conditions can you not spray foam insulation?
An experienced applicator can spray foam under almost any condition. Suppliers recommend not spraying foam on surfaces that are wet, dirty or oily. Spray foam can be sprayed in subfreezing temperatures, Cutting Edge Sprayfoam recommends spraying when the temperature of the substrate is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal performance. On external applications, spray foam should only be sprayed in non windy conditions with proper overspray protection.
What is the sound transmission coefficient and noise reduction coefficient?
SPF has an STC rating of 51 (ASTM E90) and a noise reduction coefficient of 75 (ASTM C423). SPF performs 75% better than fiberglass and cellulose.
What does HVAC “over-sizing” refer to and what problems can this cause? Why?
HVAC systems can be too large for a building. HVAC systems are often referred to by tonnage, or the amount of air that is blown into a structure. If a system is not correctly sized, the HVAC will cool a structure too quickly and shut off not allowing the moisture to be properly pulled over the condensers and removing the humidity in the air. An over-sized HVAC will continually short cycle and create serious humidity and comfort problems in the building.
What is the payback period on foam?
From a positive cash flow perspective, the payback is 1 month. From a return on investment perspective, spray foam can pay for itself in less than 2 years, depending on the size of the project.
How will foam be affected by a roof leak?
Closed cell foam will localize a small leak and create a waterproof barrier. Water will penetrate through open cell foam. Significant amounts of water will drip through both open cell and closed cell (low density .5lb and medium density 2lb) foams. There is no difference in the ability to find a roof leak with open or closed cell foam. The best way to determine a leak is through thermal imaging or infra-red imaging. Return to top
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