Link here to read what Margaret Badore of TreeHugger.Com has to reveal about spray foam insulation and its not so ‘green’ side.
Link here to read what Margaret Badore of TreeHugger.Com has to reveal about spray foam insulation and its not so ‘green’ side.
Reason Foam Fails #3 – Degrading Thermal Insulation Values
Polyisocyanurate (polyiso), XPS and spray closed-cell foams substantially degrade over time as the insulating blowing agent gases diffuse out and plain air diffuses in. How much does it degrade and at what rate? To answer, industry has come up with something called Long Term Thermal Resistance (LTTR) testing. LTTR testing takes into account degradation by providing R-values measured on a time weighted average over the “long term”.
What do you suppose is meant by long term? 100 years? 75 years? 50 years? 25 years? No. According to industry “long term” is 15 years.
How could this be? To answer that, we need to understand that foam is viewed, by-and-large, by industry, as flat roofing material. Foam started on flat roofs and its testing and evaluations have been set based on those industry parameters. As foam use has grown to cover entire buildings – the parameters for testing and evaluation have largely remained stuck at roofs.
So again, why 15 years? Because industry says that 15 years is the average life of a commercial roof. At which time, presumably, it all gets replaced. However, with closed-cell foam now buried in facades and framing it may be more reasonable to assume that – in all these non-flat commercial roof situations – the foam won’t be removed and replaced.
So let’s talk crazy and assume you’re planning on having the closed-cell foam stay in place on the building indefinitely – for 25, 50, 75 years or more, what then? What’s the weighted average over the actual functioning life of the foam installation? There’s no data. No one can tell you. The only thing we know for sure is that it is going down, down, down.
The chemical companies that make foam are tight-lipped about leakage rates. When Alex Wilson andJohn Straube looked to leaking gases to examine the global warming impact of some of these foams for Alex’s article Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation – they were left having to make educated guesses. They explained their guess of 50% depletion over its useful lifetime as being conservative.
This general lack of understanding has been well know and documented for many years including an authoritative January 1988 article, Aging of Cellular Plastics: A Comprehensive Bibliography, in The Journal of Thermal Insulation by Ronald P. Tye. And still today, 25 years later, architects, consultants and builders have no solid idea what the true insulating value of that closed-cell foam that they are wrapping their “high-performance” buildings in. Astonishing, no?
The onus is on the chemical companies to prove their products effectiveness through clear and useful information on truly long-term performance. If you are putting foam in place that is intended to stay there for 50 years or more – then the test data should reflect that. A 15 year average is not long term.
To add insult to injury the data that the chemical companies have provided on LTTR is substantially misleading, overstating the R-values by 6% for polyiso and 10-25% for XPS, according to a study by Sachchida N. Singh and Paul D. Coleman of the Huntsman Advanced Technology Center.
As the rate of diffusion generally decreases at a slower rate over time, the LTTR 15 year time weighted average is typically represented by the insulation value measured at five years of aging. The National Roofing Contractors Association have also completed independent LTTR testing and conclude in an article by Mark Graham in Professional Roofing, in January 2006:
Seventeen of the 20 samples tested exhibited R-values less than their established LTTR values. All these samples were less than five years old, the relative age the LTTR methodology is intended to represent. Four of the samples with R-values less than the established LTTR values were less than one year old. On the basis of this data, a positive bias in the LTTR methodology clearly is apparent—that is, the LTTR methodology appears to overstate a product’s actual R-value at five years of relative aging.
So if independent testing has demonstrated that the R values are consistently being overstated by manufacturers – geez, I wonder, industry wide, how much lost energy and money to consumers these overstatements might represent?
But for the moment it seems we are stuck with these “long term” tests – so what are some of the parameters? A key parameter is that the foam is tested with an exterior mean reference temperature of 75 F. This may make perfectly good sense if you are in the roofing industry – roofs get darn hot after all. But what if the external temperature is lower? What if you dare use foam insulation on a wall? Or soffit? With a vented rainscreen in front of it? Or a north facing one at that? What happens if the exterior temperature is freezing? The foam performs substantially still worse. The Building Science Corporation recently issued a paper identifying some of these temperature testing anomalies, extensively referencing the work, from 2003 through 2010, of the NRCA.
Although polyisocyanurate in heating climates is typically sold by the chemical companies as R6 or 6.5, based on it’s testing of non-aged foam, at colder, more realistic temperatures, the NRCA concluded in 2010 that in heating climates specifiers and designers should use an in-place design value of R5.
Mark Graham of NRCA wrote in Professional Roofing Magazine:
Although the LTTR method of R-value determination and reporting may be appropriate for laboratory analysis, research comparison and procurement purposes, NRCA does not consider LTTR use to be appropriate for roof system design purposes when actual in-service R-value can be an important aspect of roof system performance.
One wonders what the recommendation should be for foam walls with vented siding over 50 years in a cold climate? Can we reasonably speculate that the polyiso foam should be valued at less than R5? How low should we go? We don’t dare speculate.
The chemical companies are not going to change unless they are forced to change. As long as you keep specifying and installing foam, you will never know what you have 25 years from now.
So as opposed to foam where you don’t know what you’ll have 25 years from now, look at dense-pack cellulose and fiberglass, mineral wool, wood fiberboard, cork and cellular glass – insulations that will, when properly installed, maintain their R-value indefinitely; and in their reliability, provide true high performance.
This post is the third in a series called Foam Fails.
Aging of Cellular Plastics: A Comprehensive Bibliography, by Ronald P. Tye, Dynatech Scientific Inc, Journal of Thermal Insulation, January 1988
Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation, by Alex Wilson, Environmental Building News, June 2010.
Accelerated Aging Test Methods for Predicting the Long Term Thermal Resistance of Closed-Cell Foam Insulation, by Sachchida N. Singh and Paul D. Coleman, Huntsman Advanced Technology Center
Info-502: Temperature Dependence of R-values in Polyisocyanurate Roof Insulation, By Building Science Corporation Created: 2013/04/11
Revised R-values NRCA has revised its longstanding design R-value recommendation for polyisocyanurate insulation, by Mark S. Graham, Professional Roofing Magazine, December 2010
R-value concerns, by Mark S. Graham, Professional Roofing Magazine, May 2010
Testing LTTR, Research reveals the LTTR method may be over-reporting results, By Mark s. Graham, Professional Roofing Magazine, January 2006
Testing polystyrenes’ R-values: R-value tests for polystyrene insulation produce mixed results, by Mark s. Graham, Professional Roofing Magazine, May 2011
Spray on Foam products seriously and permanently injured me and more than two dozen children at the school where I had been teaching. Toxic Justice – Nancy Swan
The couch is gaining a ton of attention because it is filled with flame retardants – But Hello??? What do you think is in the foam of your spray foam insulation??? And yes, it does become part of your interior envelop, so to all the ignorant architects protecting the projects you spec’d over the years, wake up. Your pretty, energy efficient homes are flame retardant filled dust boxes, sleep well and karma sucks.
This blog from LaurasRules is priceless…
Dear Governor Brown and Chief Blood:
Your proposed rule on flame retardants in furniture (TB 117-2013) would greatly improve the lives of both Californians and the rest of America, which buys furniture impacted by California’s standards, by allowing furniture makers to drop the use of IQ-destroying, fertility-lowering, carcinogenic chemicals.
In fact, your previous “fire safety” standards did not protect public safety, as tests by federal regulators show, because they delay a fire by only 2-3 seconds, while making smoke, toxicity and soot worse. A comprehensive paper by Arlene Blum and other leading scientists, “Halogenated Flame Retardants: Do the Fire Safety Benefits Justify the Risks?” from Reviews on Environmental Health in 2010 (pdf link here) explains, on pages 281-2:
Laboratory research on TB117 supports this lack of measurable fire safety benefit. A study at the National Bureau of Standards in 1983 showed that following ignition, the important fire hazard indicators (peak heat release rate and the time to peak) were the same in TB117-compliant furniture where the foam was treated with chemical flame retardants and in non-treated furniture. A small flame was able to ignite both regular furniture and furniture meeting the TB117 standard—once ignited, the fire hazard was essentially identical for both types.
A 1995 report from the Proceedings of the Polyurethane Foam Association provides further evidence that TB117 does not improve fire safety. Small open flame and cigarette ignition tests were performed separately on 15 fabrics covering TB117 type polyurethane foam, conventional polyurethane foam, and polyester fiber wrap between the fabric cover and the foam cores. The study found no improvement in ignition or flame spread from a small open flame or cigarette ignition propensity using TB117-compliant foam.
The authors also provide other reasons why the old California test, which exposed the internal foam directly to flame, is pointless — for one, because the fabric often also catches on fire and can provide its own ignition source.
In fact, though its not due to chemicals, the number of people (and children) who die in a fire has gone down dramatically over the past century, which makes sense when you think about the absence of headlines about cows allegedly knocking over lanterns and lighting whole cities ablaze. It’s a resounding victory for public safety measures, as these numbers from the National Fire Protection Association (pdf) indicate:
Out of a million Americans, average number who died of unintentional injury due to fire:
in 2007: 9
in 1992: 16
in 1977: 29
in 1962: 41
in 1947: 56
in 1932: 57
in 1917: 105
Nonetheless, California evidently was taken in by chemical company goons posing as fire safety “experts” touting lies and exploiting the tragic deaths of infants for their own profits.
Interestingly, California lacks a law that provides penalties under the law for lying to state officials or lawmakers. In contrast, federal law has criminal penalties for intentional deception of a federal official, and the federal rulemaking docket at the CPSC on flame retardants, curiously, does not have any comments on burned babies as a part of the submissions. My conclusion? You guys should get one of those laws that makes it illegal to lie to you about important things.
In this case, the consequences were awful. For all of us, really. Because of your terrible judgment, we have pounds of dangerous and pointless chemicals in our homes, in our indoor air, and in the bloodstreams of our children. As the Blum papersays:
Many of these chemicals are now recognized as global contaminants and are associated with adverse health effects in animals and humans, including endocrine and thyroid disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, cancer, and adverse effects on fetal and child development and neurologic function.
Given that a recent paper reported on by the New York Times, found flame retardants in the blood of 100 percent — every single! — toddler they tested.
How many kids have you put at risk? Let’s make a rough estimate. A table under the Population tab on this page indicates that there are an estimated 50.7 million children in the U.S. ages 0-11 today. The CPSC study (pdf) as to chlorinated tris (just one of these chemicals) in 2006 specifically concluded:
The estimated cancer risk for a lifetime of exposure to TDCP-treated upholstered furniture was 300 per million. In children, the estimated cancer risk from exposure during the first two years of life alone was 20 per million. Both of these risks exceed one-in-a-million. A substance may be considered hazardous if the lifetime individual cancer risk exceeds one-in-a-million.
So the overall risk for a child from exposure to tris is 20 times 50 million children, orone thousand kids (extra) with cancer. And, sadly, childhood rates of the worst kinds of cancer are on the increase. According to the National Cancer Institute:
Over the past 20 years, there has been some increase in the incidence of children diagnosed with all forms of invasive cancer, from 11.5 cases per 100,000 children in 1975 to 14.8 per 100,000 children in 2004.
In fact, it appears that a person’s lifetime risk of dying of cancer is 192 times their risk of dying in a fire:
Lifetime odds of death for selected causes, United States, 2008*
Total, any cause 1 in 1
Heart disease 1 in 6
Cancer 1 in 7
Exposure to smoke, fire, and flames 1 in 1,344
And that’s just for cancer risks. There’s also reproductive harm, attention deficit issues, and other health damage linked to flame retardants. For just one example, here’ssobering coverage of a 2012 study linking maternal-fetal levels of PBDEs, another ubiquitous flame retardant found in 97 percent of the study subjects, to delayed development in the child at age 7.
In sum, you’ve royally screwed up. The best thing to do when you’ve made a colossal error in judgment? Apologize and try your best to make it right.
There’s really no two ways about it, California: you owe Americans a new couch. One that won’t poison our homes and make our children sick. One that won’t show up in our bloodstreams, ‘fer Pete’s sake.
Seriously. This is really not too much to ask, given the harm you’ve caused. IMHO, the chemical companies could pay for it out of the profits they made peddling all that cancerous stuff. Certainly, the good people of California, who have the highest levels of flame retardants in their bodies in the world, have suffered enough.
At any rate, I look forward to hearing from you. A (flame-retardant-free) loveseat in a nice brown or beige would do just fine.
Tree Hugger has a fantastic point about SPF in the following article.
As for my own experience, I can vouch for the fact that SPF will never be a ‘green’ product for many reason, but one obvious reason is this stuff does not biodegrade.
When we had to remove over a hundred plastic bags filled with failed or bad SPF from our home, it was very obvious that this will sit in a dump somewhere – for-EVER!
Design / Green Architecture
December 20, 2012Green building means different things to different people, but improved insulation and reducing energy use is certainly up at the top of everyone’s list. Some of the most effective insulations are made from plastic foam, either in rigid boards or sprayed foams.
But there are concerns; Architect Ken Levenson recently wrote a controversial article, Why Foam Fails. Reason #1: Dangerous Toxic Ingredients, which was the start of a series that is very critical of foam insulation. I wrote about it in Does Foam Insulation Belong in Green Buildings? 13 Reasons It Probably Doesn’t and at the Green Building Advisor, the discussion almost turned into a flame war between those who think that plastic foam does a great job, and those who agree with Ken Levenson.
The more I read the discussion at Green Building Advisor, the more I thought that the arguments sounded familiar. At TreeHugger we have covered both green buildings and green food, and the arguments about the merits of plastic insulation vs natural products, what we put in our houses, are almost identical to those we have been having about what we put in out mouths.
Consider the Twinkie. It sort of looks like polyurethane foam and lasts about as long. It’s made from “37 or so ingredients, many of which are polysyllabic chemical compounds.” (see them all here). The manufacturer of Twinkies recently went bankrupt for the second time, not because of unions or Wall Street shenanigans, but because their sales had been declining for years. Peoples’ tastes changed and they simply were not buying as much of this kind of food. More people wanted real, more people wanted healthy, more people wanted something that may have been a little bit less efficient at delivering easy calories but on the whole did a better job of it.
Plastic foam is like that. It stops calories of heat dead in their tracks, it’s a very efficient insulator. Like the Twinkie it is made from a pile of chemicals that nobody really wants to know about. But there is a perceived price in health that people do not necessarily want to pay any more.
If we are going to think of building materials like we do about food, We should learn from the master, Michael Pollan. I have taken his wonderful little book,Food Rules, and have reinterpreted his rules for the building industry, subsituting “build” for “eat” and “building products” for “food.” A lot of them apply.
Spray foam insulation has LOTS of Chlorinated Tris flame retardants that also become part of the indoor air. I do love that families are being educated about the dangers of couches and bedding that contain FR, but does it worry anyone else but me that SPF has it too?
Spray foam insulation encases entire homes so it would be reasonable to expect much more toxic dust in a home with SPF.
I think this gives us good reason to look more closely at SPF (aside from its off gassing and dangerous chemical make-up)
Kalliopi Monoyios blogged:
Last week, millions of Americans ceremoniously started the Holiday Gorge by putting off their diet and exercise resolutions as they helped themselves to another (and another?) slice of pie. Then, with the grace of an elephant in a tutu, they plopped triumphantly onto their favorite couch to bask in the bliss of their food comas. And while you’d have to be living in the most absurd bubble not to know that these types of lifestyle decisions – overeating, eating the wrong things, not exercising enough, and repeating day after day after day – are what’s killing most of us, many of us are not aware of another legitimate threat to our modern-day struggle to survive: it’s that couch you collapsed on.
See, when you sank down into the cushy goodness of your favorite couch or chair, your freshly fed derriere forced the air out of those foam cushions and with it came a poof of dust. Ever wonder what’s in that dust? If pressed to answer what makes up the couch foam we sit on, most of us would shrug our shoulders and reply it’s foam and air, but most of us would be dead wrong. As it turns out, there is a third component very few of us know about: our couch foam is up to 11% by weight flame retardant chemicals. And according to two new studies released today in Environmental Science and Technology, these chemicals are not necessarily guests you’d have invited into your home for Thanksgiving or otherwise. One such chemical, Tris, was banned from children’s clothing in the 1970s because of concern over its ability to cause cancer, one is the globally-banned pentaBDE, a known hormone disruptor and neurotoxin in animals. And still others are completely untested for safety, despite structural similarities to known carcinogens and other toxic substances.
So back to that poof of dust displaced by your tush. The flame retardants in your couch foam don’t stay put; in fact, these pesky chemicals perpetually migrate out and are found in high concentrations in household dust (as if dust bunnies weren’t sinister enough). If it were as simple as sweeping this dust under the proverbial rug, that would be that. But blood samples confirm that these chemicals are making their way into our bodies. In 2004, Americans had more than 15 times the levels of pentaBDE in their systems than Europeans. And toddlers have 3 times the levels of adults. PentaBDE was phased out of furniture foam in 2004, but discouragingly, it is being replaced with our old friend Tris (see fig 1). Meanwhile, the option to purchase flame-retardant-free furniture is diminishing to essentially nothing.
Nobody knows what elevated levels of these chemicals in our bodies means for our long-term health, but there have been some studies that suggest it is particularly worrisome for pregnant women and their developing fetuses. Even if you’re not a pregnant woman or a fetus, with cancer deaths due to environmental pollutants responsible for an estimated 30,000 deaths per year (compare that to 2650 deaths on average in house fires annually), known carcinogens in large concentrations in your home are probably something to be aware of. If you are one of the millions of people who have purged plastics containing bisphenol-A (BPA) from your life because of concerns over its ability to mimic estrogen in our bodies (and do nasty things like increase the risk of breast cancer), there’s no reason you shouldn’t be concerned about flame retardant chemicals for similar reasons. Even more so since BPA is removed from your body quickly after your last exposure to the chemical. In contrast, many flame retardants accumulate in your body fat and stick with you for years.
The kicker in all of this is that these flame retardant chemicals added to our furniture foam don’t even do what they should – that is, reduce risk of house fires, or increase our safety in the event of one. In the latter case, they may actually increase our risk; most fire deaths are due to smoke inhalation, not complications from burns, and flame retardants actually increase the amount of smoke and toxic gases. (In one study, pentaBDE doubled the smoke, created 7 times the carbon monoxide and 88 times the soot – all for a three second delay in ignition). Not only that, but when the flame retardants do burn, they produce dioxins and furans, highly toxic compounds believed to contribute to the higher rates of cancer among fire fighters.
So how are flame retardants at preventing fires in the first place? Unfortunately the data there are damning as well. The current requirement for fire safety is set by a California standard, TB117, which states that furniture foam must withstand exposure to an open flame for 12 seconds before igniting. In theory, this sounds good, but in practice, furniture foam is almost always safely encased in fabric, which itself can have flame retardant properties without the use of added chemicals. In fact, a study conducted by the Consumer Products Safety Commission estimated that 85% of upholstered furniture would require no change to their product to meet fire safety standards for smoldering if the flame retardant chemicals were eliminated from their foam. And while fire safety proponents cite the decline in upholstered fabric fires since the addition of these chemicals into our couch foam, the decline also correlates beautifully with the decrease in smoking since the 1980s. And smoking is by far the leading cause of upholstered fabric fires.
Of the average of 2650 people who die in house fires each year in the United States, only 500 deaths are attributable to fires that were started on upholstered furniture. This begs the question: are we exposing ourselves, our children and our pets daily to known toxic chemicals to prevent the extremely remote chance that we will be killed in a house fire? Considering there are smarter, safer ways to protect our favorite couch from being a fire hazard, we need to reevaluate California’s fire safety standard that sets the nation’s standard and in so doing, provide alternatives for concerned consumers.
Fortunately, the governor of California has called for a revised furniture standard in 2013 that aims to improve fire safety without requiring the use of unsafe flame retardants. If the proposed changes are implemented, it should be possible to purchase fire-safe furniture without added flame retardants in the foam by next summer.
I found a blog out of the UK that covers SPF problems back to 2006.
It is a good read;
So far all well and good. However, Icynene faces one or two problems before it can become widely adopted in Europe. “Europe is U value obsessed,” says Hood. “We believe we can get excellent performance from this product at fairly minimal thicknesses and that, whilst we could apply it at 300mm depth, there is no point because the performance improvement is absolutely minimal. Why waste footprint needlessly?”
Europe however is still feeling the effects of a nasty little tiff with the multifoil industry which, in truth, is still not satisfactorily resolved. The multifoil manufacturers make very similar claims and thus far have not been able to establish them via traditional testing methods. Icynene is a very different product to multifoil but the claims made by Hood and his colleagues have many similarities. Thus far Icynene has won BBA approval for use in walls and roofs, but only as a substitute (in performance terms) with glass fibre and/or polystyrene, which makes it rather poorer than the polyurethane family. But Hood’s contention is that it’s actually much better than all the other available mainstream insulation products and to prove it he has hired the building scientists at Napier University in Edinburgh to run some tests on Icynene in their laboratory in Glenrothes, a facility I visited last year with the UK Timber Frame Association. Results should be available soon. If they confirm Hood’s contentions, it could re-ignite the debate over the effectiveness of the established testing method, the guarded hotbox test.
Many people will think that we’ve been here before. The multifoil debate raged for many years and it was all based around the validity or otherwise of the guarded hot box as being the best (or only) method for measuring the effectiveness of insulation materials. The difference this time is that, in Icynene, we have a manufacturer who can quite happily supply insulation at any thickness. As Hood explained to me: “We can spray at whatever thickness the client wants, we just don’t want to waste their money, or use more material or footprint than is necessary. We think that’s green. And we think the move in Europe towards PassivHaus-style massive insulation is a costly mistake.” With Icynene installed in over 200,000 buildings including several LEED platinum standards, it could be that our future insulation standards could once again be up for debate.
Health Issues Related to Spray Foam Insulation
by Richard Beyer
From Green Building Advisor Comments Under:
The largest part of all Spray Polyurethane Foam discussions is ignored. “HEALTH.”
People are constantly asking for help and no one will touch the topic. There are a few who understand this is a real issue and there are those who dismiss the issues.
Do any of you readers understand the health ramnifications of using spray foam insulation?
Do you understand what these products will do to you, your family and others you recommend it to? Well, I do and it’s not pretty. Try keywording some of your own health questions. You may be shocked to find there are very, very few answers. That is unless you know where to look. Here’s a couple links for you:
All to often builders and industry experts make a claim to fame when something new is introduced to make our lives safer and more economical without doing the research first. I will be the first to admit, I did this to. However, I did do the research on spray foam insulation and came up with nothing but the positives of spray foam (aka SPF). The real issue with these SPF products (open and closed cell) is any keyword you use online dating back to 1997 to current is industry promoted.
HGTV and many other DIY channels are promoting Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation without publishing any research on the health implications. Holmes on Holmes appears to be in the room as the guys are spraying the foam. Bob Villa and Norm of This Old House promote these products now and in years past. As a matter of fact, my SPF applicator was the same company which recently sprayed a home for This Old House in a Rhode Island home. This company is one of the largest in the northeast and sprayed my home with off-ratio foam. (ie; closed and open cell name brand foams)
What would you say if I told you part A-side of SPF was modified Formaldehyde changed chemically to make (MDI) methylene diphenylene diisocyanate. Well, it is! This is the A-side of all SPF manufacturers foam insulation. Many have Formaldehyde in the B-side as well. In CT Formaldehyde containing spray foam is legal as long as it is Urethane or Styrene foam and not (UFFI).
See: CGS Sec. 29-277. Urea-formaldehyde insulation: Definition; prohibition concerning use; penalty. (a) Urea-formaldehyde (UF) foamed-in-place insulation, also referred to as formaldehyde-based insulation, means any cellular plastic thermal material which contains as a component chemical formaldehyde, formaldehyde polymers, formaldehyde derivatives and any other chemical from which formaldehyde can be released, but does not mean urethane foam insulation or styrene foam insulation.
(b) Urea-formaldehyde foamed-in-place insulation shall not be installed in any building or structure on or after June 1, 1981.
(c) Any person who violates any provision of this section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars for the first offense and for each subsequent offense shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars.
(P.A. 81-250, S. 1-4.)
Are you aware that if you are in a home when these products are installed without respiratory protection the chemicals can cause permanent lung damage and death?
“Persons developing sensitivity to isocyanates may have dangerous systemic reactions to extremely small exposures, including respiratory failure. MDI should not be heated or sprayed except with strict engineering controls and personal protective equipment.”
Are you aware that the medical community is studying humans who have these products installed within their homes? Are you aware the medical community is studying the men who apply these products? Dr. Redlich of Yale University is the most known doctor researching the effects of SPF and humans.
Are you aware our own government is just recently taking notice and most recently are studying the health implications of these products.
Do you think the government is studying these products just because they want to help us. No!
People are complaining and are injured. ie; health and property damage. Many believe SPF is the next Chinese Drywall and the next (UFFI) Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation which is banned in many states.
I know first hand because my contractor contaminated my house with 3 different spray foams and they all failed.
My reason for posting is to help you. Every SPF company I have spoken to will not tell the truth and/or are afraid to. Reality is this… you complain, you are ISOLATED.
Ask your State Department of Public Health and or Building Officials for information relating to health and SPF. Do not feel shocked when you learn as I did they do not know how to handle issues relating to spray foam insulation.
Please do your homework first guy’s. There is a lot more to building than energy conservation. There is responsible building to.
I’ll be the first to tell you, these products do not belong around people or children with Asthma!! If you still want to specify or use these products, call the manufacturer and verify your applicators credentials first. Do not trust the salesman! Call the manufacturers corporate office for credential verification. Make sure you get “EVERYTHING IN WRITING” from the manufacturer and the installer. Do not believe the verbal claim’s because when you have a failure (odor, shrinking, cracking, etc.) and you do not take the proper steps, this will easily become the most expensive insulation you ever gambled on. One last piece of mind for you…..your homeowners policy will not cover you for any SPF failures. You better verify your contractor is insured for a minimum $1M policy plus an umbrella policy endorsement for at least $5M. Do not be afraid to ask to be named as an additional insured. The future is only going to bring numerous lawsuits as more and more people have these products installed in their homes and complaints surface. Builders, Architects, Designers and Applicators are not immune from the claims.
I hope my experience helps you all. If you are like my family and have experienced smelly foam, health problems and off-ratio foam, feel free to call me 860-460-5434 and I will share with you my findings. I have spent hundreds of hours researching these products to find the answers for my family since my SPF application company and the chemical manufacturer refussed to take responsibility for their actions. I do not work for the industry and I do not have a financial interest in this. What I do have is failed Spray Foam Insulation and I’m not happy about what this industry has forced me to do to get answers.
Mold is also a big issue with SPF, especially on roof decking and crawl space – PS…if you have open cell in your crawl space = fail, only closed cell should even be considered.
Here is a write up from http://www.inspectatlanta.com/blog-0/bid/114280/Mold-Testing-Closed-Cell-Spray-Foam-Insulation
Mold Testing: Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation?
Posted by William Flaherty on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:18 AM
In an industry forum that I frequent on LinkedIN, there was a post regarding this question that I thought was interesting. I wanted to share his input and my take on it for your benefit.
Closed cell spray foam is a widely used method of applying insulation to seal buildings from air and moisture intrusion. Spray foam is the “new” fix for everything product.
Although there are installation guidelines, the real issue may be lack of certification and training that ultimately leads to poor application practices. There are many companies running around eager to fill your home with foam …. But I say buyer beware.
The author had several clients that had 1: Spray foam applied in a crawlspace without encapsulating it resulting in high mold spore counts in the crawlspace and upper level floors buckling from the wicking of moisture, 2: off-gassing from the foam due to improper installation, 3: Soffit area spray foamed in an unconditioned attic. Although there was a ridge vent and gable vent the area between the attic floor and gable had no ventilation resulting in significant mold growth. In a 5 year old home, moisture was trapped between the roof decking and insulation causing deterioration of the roof decking.
During installation, if the chemicals are not mixed correctly or at the proper temperature, incomplete curing of the two checmicals can occur, ether of which is toxic on its own. Although rare, the risk is still there.
Once applied (correctly or incorrectly) a house is bound up and glued together in a manner that is impossible to reverse, limiting the ease of future renovations dramatically. It also can produce toxic gases in the event of a fire.
I’m certainly not against foam insulation but as a professional and homeowner I would make sure the application methods are sound.
I could just sit back and let the spray foam industry build my business for the future but I’m more interested in helping my clients make the right decisions to ensure a healthy home.
Thank you TreeHugger for posting this eye catching article about the crap that is in spray foam insulation. Hopefully the so called ‘green’ architects and builders will start to ask some much needed questions about their products that they spec to trusting homeowners.