Your Questions Answered
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INSTALL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION?
Installing spray foam insulation is a fairly quick process. A typical house can be fully insulated in a day or less. Large houses or houses with unusual design features may take slightly longer.
WILL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION STRENGTHEN MY HOME?
Spray foam insulation will strengthen your home construction. Spray foam makes walls more resistant to wind, reduces creaking and shaking, and muffles the noise from slammed doors and children playing.
CAN HOMEOWNERS INSTALL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION THEMSELVES?
It is not practical nor recommended for a homeowner to install their own spray foam insulation. Installing spray foam requires a skilled installer using complex, specialized equipment.
WHAT EQUIPMENT IS USED TO INSTALL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION?
Installing spray foam insulation requires a plural component proportioner pump with heaters, dual high-pressure heated hoses, high-pressure mixing, a spray gun, feed pipes and hoses. In addition, an electrical generator and air compressor may be required.
DOES SPRAY FOAM INSULATION CONTAIN FORMALDEHYDE?
No. Spray foam insulation does not contain formaldehyde.
WILL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION ABSORB OR TRAP MOISTURE?
Spray foam insulation provides an excellent air barrier, virtually eliminating the source of moisture problems. Other potential moisture problems can be eliminated through proper construction.
HOW LONG HAVE PEOPLE BEEN INSTALLING SPRAY FOAM INSULATION TO INSULATE HOMES?
Spray foam insulation was developed for commercial use in the mid-1960s and use has been increasing steadily since that time. It is now widely considered the most effective and efficient form of home insulation.
WILL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION DETERIORATE OVER TIME?
Our inspections of spray foam insulation installed around 20 years ago show no observable signs of deterioration. You can reasonably expect spray foam insulation to last for the lifetime of your home.
CAN SPRAY FOAM INSULATION BE APPLIED DIRECTLY TO ELECTRICAL WIRING OR ELECTRICAL DEVICES?
Spray foam insulation can be applied safely to electrical wiring. Recessed lighting may require some quantity of air circulation for cooling purposes. We suggest having a box installed around these features using gypsum wall board. You can then apply insulation spray directly to the exterior of the box.
WILL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION LOSE VALUE OVER TIME?
At installation, spray foam insulation has an R-value of around 10. Over six months, this value stabilizes to approximately 6.5 to 7, depending on factors such as total thickness. Industry studies have consistently shown that once spray foam insulation has stabilized it will maintain this R-value for decades.
WILL INSTALLING SPRAY FOAM INSULATION SAVE MONEY AND ENERGY?
Installing spray foam insulation will absolutely save on your fuel and electric bills. Although the installation costs are slightly higher than fiber or cellulose, this is quickly offset by ongoing savings. Studies indicate that homes insulated with foam use between 20% and 40% less energy than homes insulated with traditional techniques. Your savings will vary depending on your lifestyle and elevation, but spray foam is the most adaptable insulation type available, and particularly suited to the climate in North Carolina.
HOW DOES SPRAY FOAM INSULATION COMPARE WITH BLOWN-IN CELLULOSE OR GLASS FIBER BATTS?
Blown-in cellulose will only slow down leakage, while spray foam will stop leakage entirely. Cellulose only has an R-value of 3 to 4, while spray foam insulation has an R-value of 6.5 to 7 (measured at a 1-inch application for both). Glass fiber also will not stop air leakage, only slow it down. Glass fiber batts have an R-value of only 3.5 at 1-inch thickness. Both glass fiber and cellulose can sag or settle over time, leaving sections of your home uninsulated. Only spray foam insulation creates a permanent barrier to heat loss and air entry.
CAN I INSTALL SPRAY FOAM INSULATION IN AN EXISTING HOME?
Spray foam insulation is primarily used to insulate new homes. This is because it must be applied to an open cavity. If spray foam is injected into a closed wall cavity, the pressure of the expanding insulation may damage the wall. If you plan to replace the exterior siding of your home, or do other major remodeling, you should consider installing spray foam during the process. Additionally, spray foam insulation may be added to the crawl spacing, roof-lines and attics of existing homes, offering considerable insulation and protection from moisture.
AT WHAT POINT IN HOUSE CONSTRUCTION SHOULD SPRAY FOAM INSULATION BE INSTALLED?
Normally spray foam insulation is installed at the same point in the construction cycle as other types of insulation. That is, it should be installed after the rough plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and air conditioning ducts have been installed. If you decide to seal the entire exterior house shell with spray polyurethane, spray insulation may need to be applied in some areas before the duct work is installed.
IS SPRAY FOAM INSULATION CODE APPROVED?
Yes. Spray foam insulation meets all building codes.
DOES USING SPRAY FOAM CAUSE AIR QUALITY PROBLEMS?
Your house does need to be ventilated. Most house design professionals will advise you to seal the house structure as tight as possible and provide the necessary ventilation through the heating and air conditioning system. Many systems employ an “air exchanger” which is designed to pre-condition (either warm or cool) the incoming outside air with the outgoing exhaust air. In this manner, you can build an extremely energy efficient exterior shell using spray foam while still providing controlled and energy-efficient ventilation.
WHAT IS A “THERMAL BARRIER” AND WHEN WOULD I NEED IT?
A thermal barrier is a covering on the surface of the spray polyurethane insulation which will protect it for at least 15 minutes in the event of a fire. Half-inch gypsum wall board, such as sheetrock, is an approved 15-minute thermal barrier. The installation of a thermal barrier between foam plastics and any occupied space is required by building codes. There are some exceptions to this rule, and you may want to review these with your local code officials. For example, the building code provides an exception for the thermal barrier requirement in crawl spaces and attics where these are entered only to service utilities. In such circumstances, spray foam insulation must be protected from ignition.
HOW DOES THE SPRAY FOAM STILL BREATH AND YET PROVIDE MOISTURE PROTECTION?
Both cellulose and fiberglass materials can be vulnerable to water absorption and wicking. Closed-cell foam insulation is invulnerable to these hazards. You house will breathe by bringing in the right amount of air, often referred to as make-up air, through your HVAC system. Liquid water has a much larger particle size and is thus unable to pass into or through this closed-cell foam barrier.
IS IT BETTER TO USE CLOSED CELL OR OPEN CELL INSULATION?
Both systems of spray foam insulation offer significant advantages over fiberglass batts. These include the ability to fill gaps and oddly shaped cavities, plus the ability to retain shape over extended periods of time even through adverse conditions. However, only closed-cell foam insulation has the thermal insulation value (known as the R-value) that brings your home up to Energy Star standards, with only one half the thickness required for fiber insulation. Additionally, closed-cell foam products increase the strength of your walls (about double the strength) and greatly increase the water resistance of your home’s exterior.
WHAT TYPES OF SPRAY FOAM INSULATION ARE AVAILABLE?
We use either closed cell or open cell, depending on the application we are trying to achieve.
HOW DOES SPRAY FOAM INSULATION WORK?
Trained professionals will use a two-part mixture to apply foam to the inside surface of exterior walls, beneath floors in basements, in crawlspaces and to the underside of the roof. The spray foam mixture expands rapidly to fill all cracks, voids, gaps and spaces, permanently adhering to masonry, wood, joists and metal studs.
WHEN SHOULD SPRAY FOAM INSULATION BE INSTALLED?
Spray foam insulation is usually installed during construction, after the rough plumbing, air conditioning ducts and electrical wiring have been installed, but before the interior walls are completed. It is possible to install spray foam insulation in existing homes to the inside of roofs and under floors after construction has been completed.