Problems with Spray Foam Insulation

A homeowner's worst nightmare may be having a home that is too hot or chilly during harsh weather. To ensure that their homes are always as pleasant as possible, homeowners research ways to weatherproof them. Spray foam insulation is a practical approach to guarantee that the interior temperature of your home is comfortable throughout the year. However, issues can arise from time to time.

When spray foam insulation goes awry, it can cause issues that may require significant renovations. The following are typical issues with spray foam insulation:

  • Superheating in a closed area
  • Roof damage
  • Hidden termite damage 
  • Permanent foul smells
  • Mould and mildew
  • Health Complications

Superheating

Even when it's hot outside, spray foam insulation can increase the heating levels in your attic and garage to those of a typical home. If you use the incorrect foam, though, you risk making a heated mess of your house. Heat is retained through closed-cell foam insulation. It doesn't let much blood circulate.

A well-insulated home requires airflow above and below the insulation. Insulation made of closed-cell foam keeps heat from the source in. Your HVAC system needs to work harder to maintain an appropriate indoor temperature when the home is unable to dissipate heat outside. Attics, for example, have high summer temperatures due to their proximity to the roof.

Attics experience an expansion of heat. The roof's structural stability is impacted by the expansion. Continuous expansion and contraction weaken the shingles over time and leaves space for air pockets. It's only a matter of time before you notice roof damage at this point.

To correct the problem, you need to use breathable spray foam insulation such as open-cell insulation.  As the insulation keeps soaking up more water, heat pushes the condensed water into the wood truss. Over time, the condensate saturates the rafter and wood truss.

 

Roof damage

Attic heat buildup can cause roof damage. But did you also know that using spray foam insulation might cause the roof's wood to rot? Even when the insulation is adequate, it is still a possibility, even though it may be uncommon.

Rainwater seeps in if your roof suffered previous damage from the outside. The insulation traps the water, preventing it from evaporating.

 

Hidden termite damage 

Termite damage is a sign of improper spray foam application. Homes require periodic inspections to ensure everything is in working order. However, if an insulation contractor covered a portion of the house to prevent it from being seen during the inspection, it may be difficult to see some hidden regions.

Particularly in dry environments, sills and joists are susceptible to termite attack. A close inspection would be necessary to find any termite infestation.

 

Permanent foul smells

One of the main issues with poor spray foam insulation is odour. Some homeowners who employ contractors are unsure of what they will receive. Consider the situation of the couple who were forced to leave their home for months after it had been sprayed. An unpleasant smell typically indicates a poor ratio of mixing or poor ingredients in the foam. Instead of being manufactured in a factory, spray foam is made on the job site.

If the foam was pre-mixed in a central location, there would be better quality control requirements. Try out a tiny area first to see if there are any unpleasant smells there. Here, diligence is also required. To lessen the likelihood of working with a novice, ask the contractor about his or her experience.

 

Mould and mildew

Spray foam insulation frequently experiences non-adhesion issues. Non-adhesion is a result of using the wrong chemicals and combining them incorrectly. Spray foam leaves cavities when it doesn't stick to the surface, which seals in the water and allows mould and mildew to grow unchecked in moist areas like the basement and attic.

Like in the majority of cases, a good contractor makes sure they have the necessary spray foam on hand. Everything will be evenly distributed throughout the spaces.

 

Health Complications

When using chemicals at home, you need to exercise particular caution. The isocyanates may react with the body as a result of a chemical imbalance.

Isocyanates have cancer-causing qualities that put you at risk for developing asthma, lung damage, skin rashes, and digestive problems.

 

 

 

What Causes Spray Foam Insulation Problems

For homeowners wishing to improve the comfort of their homes, spray foam insulation has been a simple choice. Even so, many still call contractors to remedy problems with spray foam insulation.

Most problems with spray foam insulation stem from three things:

  • Application errors
  • Homeowner error
  • Uninformed expectations

 

Application Errors

Application mistakes can increase the homeowner's heating and cooling costs. They also need to consider the cost of repairs, which in certain extreme circumstances will require removing the insulation at great expense.

The first application mistake is utilizing spray foam that is not balanced. This might not be a contractor issue, though. It's possible that the contractor received an unbalanced batch by mistake. The unbalanced batch may leave the house with a lingering odour. The spray foam won't stick to the surface in other situations.

A specialist in spray foam insulation makes sure the chemicals used for the insulation reach the necessary ratios to meet standards in order to solve this balance issue.

Sometimes the contractor achieves the ideal chemical balance. Additionally, all of their equipment is compliant. On the other hand, a bad workday causes them to leave some of the houses with poor insulation.

Crevices left unfilled or certain areas over sealed by improper application. Under spraying exposes your home to outside air, which is bitterly cold in the winter and intolerably hot in the summer. When your overspray, you risk creating imbalanced zones that could grow during the summer and destroy certain parts of your house.

 

Homeowner Error

Due diligence is primarily a concern because of homeowner error. When you speak with a specialist about insulation, take the time to enquire about their offering. You will then be aware of their level of knowledge. If not, you run the danger of having poor spray foam insulation and potential house damage.

 

Uninformed expectations

Why do you want to insulate your home? You might be insulating to reduce energy bills, keep out external sounds, or make a space more livable. You need to communicate clearly your expectations to the contractor. 

 

 

 

Spray Foam Insulation Dangers

In applications needing complete sealing in constrained spaces, foam insulation is a common and practical solution. However, if specific safety measures aren't implemented, there can be some concerns associated with foam polyurethane. Installation and removal present important challenges, and in the event of a crisis, aid workers must take extra precautions to help people while protecting themselves.

Foam insulation undoubtedly offers a variety of advantages and appeals to a wide range of buildings. Spray foam insulation can frequently be preferable in instances when traditional insulation, such as fiberglass "cotton candy" design, is appropriate. To function better in diverse circumstances, foam, a type of polyurethane, is available in a variety of chemical compositions. For instance, open-cell polyurethane expands gradually, whereas phenolic spray can actually contract as it cures. Spray Insulation made of polyurethane foam (SPF) can be sprayed into small, difficult-to-reach areas as well as onto larger panels known as "sandwich panels," which are found between the walls of buildings. A worker uses a special gun to spray foam into drilled holes or into a wall region, where it swells and fills the Prior to insulation, the site must be examined to ascertain which kind of foam, if any, should be used in the application. Considering that foam is frequently more expensive than other insulating options, its cost-efficiency must be assessed. It's possible that the additional benefit of foam serving as a vapour barrier or its increased structural stability is not worth the additional cost. Furthermore, the insulation's actual placement can be tricky. The foam shouldn't be installed in areas that will be exposed to hot temperatures or direct sunlight. Although most varieties of foam are strong temperature barriers and fire-resistant, they cannot last in these conditions for an extended period of time. e gap.

 

Polyurethane Foam Toxicity to Humans

Dangerous chemicals may be released into the environment and onto personnel during the installation of SPFs. Due to the fact that many foams use greenhouse gases as blowing agents, they must adhere to regulatory regulations requiring specific thickness levels and distribution patterns. Additionally, because these foam sprays have the potential to emit toxic chemicals, employees must be fully protected from these vapours, which can be fatal if ingested. It is crucial to follow the manufacturer's direction.

 

Final Thoughts

Overall, spray foam is the most dangerous when it’s first mixed for application. The professionals installing for you should always wear the proper protective equipment. It’s also vital that you’re not in the home as the insulation sets since it emits fumes you shouldn’t breathe in.

There are ways to protect yourself from this material, although you could use fiberglass insulation instead. It’s safer and doesn’t emit chemical fumes. It would help if you always thought about the benefits and risks of insulation before making your final choice.

 

 

 

 

References:

       Dangers of Spray Foam Insulation and How To Protect Yourself. (September 19, 2021).  Attainable Home. Retrieved from: https://www.attainablehome.com/dangers-of-spray-foam-insulation-and-how-to-protect-yourself/

       Hubert Miles. (August 16, 2021). 6 Problems With Spray Foam Insulation. Home Inspection Insider. Retrieved from: https://homeinspectioninsider.com/problems-with-spray-foam-insulation/

       Spray Foam Insulation Dangers. Thomas. Retrieved from: https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/plastics-rubber/foam-insulation-danger/