Spray Foam contractors: Fact, Fiction, Caveats?

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  #1  
Old 05-29-10, 11:54 AM
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Spray Foam contractors: Fact, Fiction, Caveats?

We have a 30 year old home with no insulation in the walls

Getting a lot of solicitations in this neighborhood because of the age of the homes built in a time when insulation wasnt required.

These spray foam installers use an R19 and spray it in from exterior filling the voids without having to drill holes in interior drywall or take down drywall.

Neighbor had it done and "thinks" he feels a difference. But the material also seems to settle a bit as he has some evidence in basement of the white insulation settling thru cracks into basement. Its almost like a soft power after a while.

Anyway, the concept seems great but wondering about all the facts and known issues. Ive seen too many episodes of Holmes on Homes and am perpetually cautious now

In addition, the local contractors have a B- rating with local BBB.

Thoughts, experience? Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 05-29-10, 12:59 PM
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Hi gs, a spray foam insulation is usually a two part mixture that expands in place and becomes rigid, so no settling. That leaves me wondering what they are installing. R-19 in an old 4" wall would be R-5 per inch, which would have to be one of the expanded foam products.

Now, I would think that there are very few 30 year old Ohio homes that have no insulation. I started building 40 years ago, and insulation was required in NJ and that is a warmer climate than OH. Plus you would have 3.5" walls, which means an even better insulation.

So, get some more details, like what they are using for insulation? Where/how they install it? How they price it, board foot, cubic foot?

If it is a low expansion foam product and they were to fill all of your exterior walls, I would expect a lot more than "thinks he feels a difference". Unless there is no insulation anywhere else, it should make a huge difference.

For your consideration, we can back up and review what you have and make a full recommendation. Attic insulation and air sealing would be high on the list along with insylating those walls if they are really empty.

More information and let us know what you want to do.

Bud
 
  #3  
Old 05-30-10, 07:31 AM
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Thanks Bud! Here is there website:

Home Insulation Contractors | USA Insulation

Very convincing, esp. the videos and logic. It pulls an R value of 5.1 per inch.
 
  #4  
Old 05-30-10, 08:00 AM
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It looks like standard spray foam to me. I don't know what that white powder your neighbor has in his basement. The foam stays rigid and doesn't settle. I'm not sure how it could settle through cracks into the basement. A home 30 years old is going to have a bottom plate to the wall that sits on top of the floor. I suppose it could make its way down through holes drilled for electrical wire.
 
  #5  
Old 05-30-10, 09:41 AM
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What they are offering is a cavity filled with some type of expanding foam product. Their web site is lacking on specifics as to exactly what the product is and any additional instructions needed for a home that is totally air sealed. They show foam installed behind a brick surface, which is normally the drainage plane and is necessary for the bricks to dry properly.

Expanding foam can be a good product, but it needs to be explained properly to the customers along with combustion safety and indoor air quality. I see none of that on their web site. A low expansion slow rise foam can be used in a wall assembly, but don't try to change anything after it is installed. Their web page shows it being installed in attics and basements, some codes will require that it be covered with a fire barrier. If your code doesn't currently require a fire barrier, you should wonder why and what will happen upon resale if the code changes.

I would suggest you take your time and talk to your code people. You didn't give me the cost so I can't tell you the payback. There are often much less expensive insulation processes that will achieve the same results with less risk.

Bud
 
  #6  
Old 06-03-10, 07:55 AM
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you should wonder why and what will happen upon resale if the code changes
That would be grandfathered in.
 
  #7  
Old 06-03-10, 06:18 PM
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Something like exposed spray foam would probably need to be fixed. Just like railings. When you sell, you need to bring certain things up to code. Not everything gets grandfathered.

If I recall correctly, this spray foam has a class 1 fire rating.
 
  #8  
Old 06-04-10, 02:17 PM
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I have only lived in Washington State and Texas, but I have never heard of bringing anything up to code on a residential house. I have never heard of a house being inspected by the city/county as part of selling a house in either state.

Buyers can demand whatever after a home inspector comes through, but that is not the same as bringing things up to code.
 
  #9  
Old 06-04-10, 03:58 PM
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I live in NJ. When my wife sold her condo and we bought our house, both were inspected by their respective town inspectors. It is a fairly new practice and may vary from town to town.
 
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