Friday, November 23, 2012

Mike Holmes on Spray Foam Insulation

If you ever watch one of Mike's shows, you know that one of his most favorite things in the world is spray foam insulation. He's even been an official spokesman for Walltite Eco:
 


In the article below, reposted from the Ottawa Citizen, Mike talks about the benefits of using closed-cell spray foam, and why it's important to hire a pro to install it.



Closed-cell spray foam tops home insulation options

 
 

Closed cell spray foam is best, but it must be installed by professionals.

Photograph by: The Holmes Group, The Ottawa Citizen

Everyone’s always asking me what’s the best insulation? Batt? Loose fill? Rigid? Different insulation will work best for different jobs. But there’s one product that has proven itself consistently on every job I’ve used it: Closed-cell spray foam. For me, there’s nothing better. It does what good insulation is supposed to do.
When we talk about spray foam, there’s open cell and closed cell. Open cell means the tiny foam cells aren’t completely closed — you can crush open-cell spray foam in your hands. But with the closed variety, the tiny foam cells are closed and tightly packed together.
This makes the spray foam denser — it’s rock solid — and increases its R-value (resistance to heat loss).
This also makes closed-cell spray foam more expensive than open cell; but the former ends up paying for itself so it’s worth the investment. Still, the choice is ultimately up to the homeowner.
Closed-cell spray foam gives you energy savings by protecting your home against heat loss — that’s huge. It creates a complete thermal break in the building envelope.
So if your basement is normally cool in the summer, it won’t be if it has spray foam, which stops heat loss even when it’s hot outside.
It doesn’t let heat come in or out and it helps keep your entire home cool with minimal air conditioning.
What makes spray foam so effective? It controls moisture — that’s the big one. Forty per cent of heat loss is due to air movement, but the other 60 per cent is related to moisture. Heat moves with moisture. The warmer the air, the more moisture it can hold.
Cold air means less moisture, which is why your hands and lips get dry in the winter when you go outside.
But spray foam creates a barrier to stop moisture movement, which helps stop heat loss.
Spray foam is also inorganic, which prevents mould growth. It doesn’t absorb moisture so it won’t compress and lose its R-value. You don’t have to worry about it sagging in your walls and leaving open spaces like batt insulation can. It has its own vapour barrier and it isn’t harmful to your indoor air quality once it is cured.
Even the best systems will not work if they aren’t installed properly. Spray foam is no exception.
It needs to be applied by a specialized installer. Cutting corners leads to major risks. Trust only the pros.
Who’s a pro? A Foam Master. These are professionals who are certified and approved spray foam installers. When you hire a Foam Master you know that the job will be done right the first time. Spray foam is an expensive product so you don’t want to pay for a bad job.
Let me give a scenario. I was working on a house that had been retrofitted with spray foam.
That means spray foam installers came to the house years after it was constructed to install spray foam. So, instead of having open walls to install the spray foam in, everything had been drywalled over.
The original spray foam company that came in to quote the job — who also happened to be the pros I use — recommended taking the plaster down, re-studding the walls and then installing the spray foam.
The homeowners decided that option was too expensive. They went with a retrofit in which holes were drilled along their walls — in random places — and then filled with open-cell spray foam.
When a home is retrofitted with spray foam this way, all you can do is hope that the cavities get filled. Usually, this never works. In fact, it rarely works. What you end up with is a lot of voids and plenty of cold spots.
Yes, it was only a fraction of the original quote, but it was a total waste of money. The damage done to their home left them no choice but to call me.
And the worst part was that the foam they used contained urea formaldehyde. Urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) has been banned in Canada since 1980 because it releases formaldehyde gas into the air over time as it cures.
When you’re renovating a house, you get only one shot to do it right. It’s better to know you’re getting a good job than to hope you are. By removing the drywall and plaster, you can get the spray foam into that crucial space between the exterior wall and the wood stud.
Energy costs are increasing every single day. If you want your home to be energy efficient, proper insulation installed the right way is the way to go. It pays for itself. Not many things in the home do.
Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit hgtv.ca. For more information on home renovations, visit makeitright.ca.

23 comments:

  1. All about my home Mr. Holmes.
    http://landing.newsinc.com/shared/video.html?freewheel=91060&sitesection=WTIC_hom_non_fro&VID=23903508

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  2. Here's the results when your installer is not properly trained or is just having a bad day.

    http://sprayfoamdangers.com/tag/fox-news-spray-foam/

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  3. P.S. The young man in the photo above is not properly protected! This is exactly what Proposed Connecticut House Bill 5908 is targeting. Training and Public Safety for the spray foam industry

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  4. Does anyone have any information in regards to closed cell spray foam off gasing? What dangers should famillies watch out for with small children or pregnant mothers?

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    1. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe once closed cell spray foam insulation has been properly installed then it is perfectly safe and inert. If exposed to extreme heat ie fire, then I believe the fumes are toxic, but I think they address this in the installation process.

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    2. Yes/ what they say is inert but they also say that about vermiculite containing asbestos. If you need a respirator to install it's bad for you!/Poly is plastic oil based product/all paints are going water based why?

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    3. Yes, but asbestos insulation is inert unless it is disturbed. If you don't disturb it, it poses no real threat to safety. Same thing with spray foam insulation.

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  5. How long does it take to cure/urethane paints are no longer used in automotive body shops

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  6. The Holmes Spot,

    Asbestos insulation is inert only because it does not change form as defined. Inert does not define "Safe". Who ever is writing this stuff above needs to become better educated in building science assemblies. Air moves through buildings, all fibrous insulation and open cell polyurethane foam, except closed cell spray foam. If air is moving through vermiculite containing asbestos, it is moving asbestos micro fibers through the homes air. Leaking outlet boxes, recessed cans installed post energy conservation days, cracked plaster etc. Common sense, right?

    I spent the last 2 plus years researching SPFI after the failure which occurred in my home. Go to www.sprayfoamdangers.com for an education you'll never forget.

    FYI.... There's NO SCIENCE to prove "SAFE" to HOME or HEALTH! Ask any government agency or SPFI company to show you if you do not believe this statement. When you find the medical and product science, please SHARE.

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    1. I never said that asbestos was "safe" I stated that if you don't disturb asbestos it doesn't pose a threat to health. My great grandparents lived in an old farmhouse with asbestos plaster and asbestos tiles and my grandfather passed away at the age of 100 and 1/2. We rip out asbestos during renovations because disturbing the fibers releases them into the air. Getting hot and bothered over insulation is silly. If you have a different perspective feel free to share, but we could do without the condescending comments.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. does this foam do anything for sound proofing in a ceiling?

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  9. we can't live in our place since the foam was installed in the attic. that was in fall of 2010 and we tried living in it starting april of 2013 because we ran out of places to stay. we have sores on our faces, lost hair, can't breathe at times ... no oxygen and we have windows open always even in the cold weather. it eats elastic bands and wood and curls paper... we have marks on our bodies. i've tried politicians, and the city and insurance company who said it was workman's error and so no insurance ... i was only 67 when it went in and my boy was 10 yars old. everything stinks of the chemicals and it burns plants and kills them. i notified finally the quality assurance people who came and took the foam for testing, but under the supervision of the company owner who was responsible. his workers couldn't even speak english. now i'm told i can't get the results of the foam testing from the engineering firm and it goes to the business owner

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  10. i had no idea this would post... i have a lot more information ... you would not believe this could happen in Canada ... or any other country for that matter
    are there any more people who want to share their story and if so, did they ever find out what is off gasing so that they can test for it? i need information desperately

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  11. Looking for advice. Renovating a cottage with the first floor constructed of 8 inch cement blocks, built above ground. At some point the walls were insulated with 1 inch white foam board. Studs were then placed over the foam board. Can closed cell spray foam be installed over this or should it be removed? I tried fibreglass over this with a vapour barrier but moisture collected at the face of the foam board and the insulation. Thank you

    Mark NS

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  12. Mike I see that the installers spray the insulation right to the underside of the roof, I was taught that an air place is required so shingles do not bake in the heat of summer? Is this not a concern? Does it void the warranties of the manufacturer? I am considering using this type of insulation for the first time and a bit afraid. one hears all kinds of stories of workmanship. I'm new to the area don't have the contacts that I had in my home province.
    Thanks, Reid

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  13. Hello Mike,
    I am renovating, gutting, my home. It is a mobile home on a poured foundation with an add on. When I bought the place a new roof with a low pitch replaced the existing flat roof of the mobile. I've hired Eco insulation to spray the walls and the ceiling, however because the roof is low will the 3 inches they are putting be sufficient or do I need more?
    Paulette

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  14. Hello Mike,
    I am renovating, gutting, my home. It is a mobile home on a poured foundation with an add on. When I bought the place a new roof with a low pitch replaced the existing flat roof of the mobile. I've hired Eco insulation to spray the walls and the ceiling, however because the roof is low will the 3 inches they are putting be sufficient or do I need more?
    Paulette

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  15. After observing various spray foam insulations, particularly BASF pink, I am impressed with a few aspects of it. Specifically its adhesion properties. After looking into general insulation best practices proven over decades along with this new technology, I would be inclined to use spray foam as a supplement to standard fibreglass bat or poly panels. I'd use the spray foam in rim joists or where ever there's outside crack exposure. Then I would fluff in the fibreglass followed by the moisture barrier. The reason why I would never use spray foam alone is because my wife who is a chemist advised foam breaks down over time, and the disintegration will be in a fine powder form. By using fibreglass over it, it will act as a filter absorbing the particulated foam material over time while also ensuring R-value is maintained over time. Fibreglass or poly panels insulation is the best long term technology, do not use spray foam alone but rather as a crevice filler for tight to reach air gaps.

    Just remember, when asbestos was developed it was stated to be the best all / multi purpose insulation invention. Over time it was discovered how harmful it was. That being said, spray foam does contain carsinogenic (pardon spelling) properties and much like asbestos over time there will be discoveries on how harmful it is when it is broken down or disturbed. Also keep in mind, when shaving excess spray foam you should wear an appropriate breather apparatus.

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  16. Hello, I'm following up to my previous post from Nov. 05,2015/ 2:23am.

    I delved into quite a bit of research concerning very important factors to consider when insulating. they are as follows: 1.) prevent air/ temp penetration 2.) flammability 3.) pest deterrent 4.) long term health effects 5.) environment sustainability 6.) cost factor

    Taking into account all these factors, I feel Cellulose is the best choice. It fills air gaps like spray foam, it's quick to install and it's R-value to volume ratio is superior to anything on the market. As well, it offers superior noise suppression characteristics. Since it's not prone to wicking moisture like batt insulation it's ability to prevent mould is also excellent. From a practical standpoint it's very forgiving when it comes to drilling. If you drill thru batt insulation it will wrap around your drill bit thus compromising that regions insulation. With Cellulose, there is absolutely no effect disturbing it as it repositions itself organically as a result of its physical properties. I can elaborate with further technical aspects, however ones most informed opinion should not rely on a single individual such as an enthusiastic poster (me). What I'd also like to state about this product is there is an expectation of ensuring it is installed properly when vertical (walls) adhesion is required. There several DIY methods. Mr. Holmes or designated site administrator, your feedback or thoughts are very much welcomed. Cheers !

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  17. Hello, I'm following up to my previous post from Nov. 05,2015/ 2:23am.

    I delved into quite a bit of research concerning very important factors to consider when insulating. they are as follows: 1.) prevent air/ temp penetration 2.) flammability 3.) pest deterrent 4.) long term health effects 5.) environment sustainability 6.) cost factor

    Taking into account all these factors, I feel Cellulose is the best choice. It fills air gaps like spray foam, it's quick to install and it's R-value to volume ratio is superior to anything on the market. As well, it offers superior noise suppression characteristics. Since it's not prone to wicking moisture like batt insulation it's ability to prevent mould is also excellent. From a practical standpoint it's very forgiving when it comes to drilling. If you drill thru batt insulation it will wrap around your drill bit thus compromising that regions insulation. With Cellulose, there is absolutely no effect disturbing it as it repositions itself organically as a result of its physical properties. I can elaborate with further technical aspects, however ones most informed opinion should not rely on a single individual such as an enthusiastic poster (me). What I'd also like to state about this product is there is an expectation of ensuring it is installed properly when vertical (walls) adhesion is required. There several DIY methods. Mr. Holmes or designated site administrator, your feedback or thoughts are very much welcomed. Cheers !

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  18. ok, me again. I did a little test with cellulose in between 2 joists (2x10's) sitting on foundation. Cellulose is not good for confined spaces. After only 2 weeks of blowing it in that corner, it collapsed aprox 35% whereby allowing cold air to pass thru. I also did another test by blowing it inbetween framing (16" center), 6MIL vapor barrier was stapled on studs after the cellulose was blown. Once again, it collapsed substantially over time. During application it adhered quite nicely (used the professional blower with controlled water sprayer). Bottom line, cellulose is not ideal for vertical insulation because it's heavier than rock or fibreglass insul. When moisture is exposed to it, it's weight is more prevelant and thus it gets weighed down more.

    So this is what I've decided to do, cut poly panels to size to fit in rim joists. Seal edges with high expansion spray foam. Then fluff Roxul R14. I will also adhere the 4'x8' poly foam panels to the foandation wall with Roxul R14 on 16" center. I will bead a line of acoustic caulk on 2x4's so the vapor barrier sticks to it and staple holes get sealed instantly.

    Take Away: Cellulose is great for attic space, as it's commonly used. Top it up as much as possible as long as the air vents don't get covered with it.

    Now let's get some work done !

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