How does Insulation Work?
To understand how insulation works it helps to understand heat flow, which involves three basic mechanisms -- conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is the way heat moves through materials, such as when a spoon placed in a hot cup of coffee conducts heat through its handle to your hand. Convection is the way heat circulates through liquids and gases, and is why lighter, warmer air rises, and cooler, denser air sinks in your home. Radiant heat travels in a straight line and heats anything solid in its path that absorbs its energy.
What are R-Values?
An insulating material’s resistance to conductive heat flow is measured or rated in terms of its thermal resistance or R-value -- the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density. When calculating the R-value of a multilayered installation, add the R-values of the individual layers. Installing more insulation in your home increases the R-value and the resistance to heat flow.
The effectiveness of an insulation material’s resistance to heat flow also depends on how and where the insulation is installed. For example, insulation that is compressed will not provide its full rated R-value. The overall R-value of a wall or ceiling will be somewhat different from the R-value of the insulation itself because heat flows more readily through studs, joists, and other building materials, in a phenomenon known as thermal bridging. In addition, insulation that fills building cavities densely enough to reduce airflow can also reduce convective heat loss.
Common Insulation R Values:
Fiberglass Loose 2.2 – 2.9 per inch
Fiberglass Batts 2.9 - 3.8 per inch
Cellulose Loose 3.1 - 3.8 per inch
Spray Foam 6.8 - 7.6 per inch
How does Spray Foam work?
Spray Foam is sprayed on as a liquid which reacts and expands in place. This expansion seals all cracks and crevasses in your wall’s exterior. The result is that air can no longer slip in. Your house will be less drafty and more comfortable. Air leakage can introduce moisture into the wall cavity resulting in wet insulation, mold and mildew. With the sealing effects of Spray Foam, it is not a concern.
Is Spray Foam energy efficient? Yes. One of the most significant ways a homeowner or contactor can increase the buildings energy is using spray foam insulation. Saving of 30-50% are common. Insulation is one of the construction components “you never see”, but the energy savings occur every day. While the initial costs may be more than other types of insulation, the long term energy savings are unmatched.
Does Spray Foam meet building codes?
Spray Foam has the approval of all major building codes in the United States and Canada. Spray Foam is a 3 barrier system; thermal, air, and vapor.
How does Spray Foam compare to fiberglass and cellulose insulations?
Spray Foam is more expensive than fiberglass and blown-in cellulose. However, it is the only one that immediately and consistently reduces energy costs. There are many differences, but most important, Spray Foam is a true air barrier.
Fiberglass in any form, such as blown-in, batts or roll, is not an air barrier. It will not stop air leakage. Blown-in cellulose will slow down air leakage, but is not complete total air barrier. Fiberglass and blown-in cellulose have significantly lower R-values per inch.
What’s more, they can sag, settle, and shift over time leaving sections in the wall cavity and attic un-insulated or under-insulated. Fiber insulations can hold moisture and become breeding grounds mold and mildew. Closed-Cell Spray Foam resists mold and mildew. It is not a food source to pests and rodents.
Spray Foam completely adheres to the wood substrate and sheathing. It is a permanent barrier to heat loss and air entry. Its solid matrix strengthens the structure. Fiberglass products and blown-in cellulose are not permanent barriers to heat loss and air infiltration.
Do I need to worry about indoor air quality?
No. Spray Foam actually contributes to improved indoor air quality. Unlike other insulators, Spray Foam does not have any loose fibers that can transport throughout your home. Because it reduces air infiltration, Spray Foam reduces dust, allergens, mold and mildew. Spray Foam provides a healthier, draft-free environment with no harmful emissions that can cause allergic reactions.
New Construction: If you are sealing the entire building envelope, it is necessary to have the HVAC contractor install an ERV system that provides a continuous source of fresh air into the building. Most building design professionals will advise you to seal the building structure as tight as possible and to provide the necessary ventilation through an air exchanger attached to your heating and air conditioning system.
In winter, this simple machine brings cold fresh air from the outside and passes it by the warm stale air being expelled. This allows the fresh air to pick up the heat from the stale air, maintaining energy efficiency while providing a continuous supply of fresh air.
In the summer, the opposite occurs giving the same results. In this manner, you can build an extremely energy efficient exterior shell using spray Polyurethane foam insulation while still providing controlled and energy efficient ventilation. Remember, you only have one chance to “build it right and seal it tight.” Don’t let old fashioned fears deter you from building an efficient home. Any qualified HVAC contractor can advise the builder and owner on how to properly ventilate.
Retrofit: Attics, crawlspaces and basement walls. Because air enters the building envelope when we open windows and doors, through house vents such stove and bathroom, and from the other air gaps that cannot be reached behind drywall and plaster with a typical spray foam application, you do not need to worry about your house being sealed too tightly.
What is the difference between Open-
Cell and Closed-Cell Spray Foam?
Open-Cell Spray Foam or one-half pound foam is identified as one-half pound per cubic foot. It is made up of tiny cells of foam that are not completely closed. The cells are broken and air fills all of the ‘open’ space inside of the material. The foam has a fluffy appearance. It is soft, similar to a foam sofa cushion.
Open-Cell Spray Foam has an R-value ranging from about 3.4 to 4.5 per inch depending on the manufacturer. It is a very good insulator and excellent sound insulator.
When sprayed, open cell foam expands up to 150 times its initial state. The excess foam is shaved off the studs, leaving a flat surface over which dry wall or other material can be applied. Open-Cell Spray Foam qualifies as an air barrier at 4.5" inches of thickness.
Closed Cell Spray Foam, or two pound foam, is identified as two pounds per cubic foot. The cells are closed and packed tightly together. The closed cells are filled with an inert gas that helps the foam rise and expand to up to 30 times its original state.
Closed Cell Spray Foam is a greater insulator due to its denser properties. Closed Cell Foam has an R-value ranging from 6.6 to 7 per inch depending on the manufacturer. At one inch, closed cell foam qualifies as an air barrier. At two inches, it qualifies as a vapor barrier.
When cured, Closed-Cell Spray Foam is lightweight yet extremely dense, so it contributes greatly to the structural integrity of the building. It is both an air and vapor barrier, it resists the growth of mold and mildew, and it deters rodents as it is not a bedding material.
An example of Closed-Cell Spray Foam insulation that we benefit from every day is the insulation found in your refrigerator and freezer. It is the ideal insulation choice for windy, damp and water prone locations, such as coastal areas, below grade, crawlspaces, or for the whole house. Closed-Cell Spray Foam is the only FEMA approved flood resistant insulation material. While it is more expensive than open cell foam, it is the product of choice for most of our clients.
Is Spray Foam good for soundproofing?
Yes. Spray Foam is very effective for reducing noise from outside sources by sealing cracks and gaps that allow sound to travel through the walls, floors and ceilings into the building. Spray Foam has the best soundproofing capabilities for media rooms, music rooms, for separation between commercial and residential spaces, between floors in apartment buildings and condominiums, and home offices.
Does Spray Foam contain formaldehyde?
No, it does not contain formaldehyde.
Does spray Polyurethane foam insulation contain any VOCs or CFCs?
No, Spray Foam does not contain any VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Nor does it contain any formaldehyde, bleach, CFCs (Chloro Fluoro Carbons) or HCFCs (Hydro Chloro Fluoro Carbons).
Is it toxic?
No, Spray Foam is NOT toxic. Usually within 24-48 hours of application and with proper ventilation, there are no hazardous fumes present in the building.
How long does Spray Foam last?
Spray Foam will last the life of the building. As an inert, long lasting polymer, its ability to reduce heat and cooling loss is constant.
How is Spray Foam installed?
Spray Foam is sprayed into the wall cavity in between the wooden studs with specialized equipment. The foam is sprayed on as a liquid, but within two to ten seconds, the liquid will turn to foam and expand filling every nook and cranny, sealing all gaps and permanently adhering to the stud cavity.
Does Spray Foam absorb moisture?
No. Because the cells in Closed-Cell Spray Foam are closed, properly applied Closed-Cell Spray Foam will not absorb water. That is why it is recommended for below grade applications, crawlspaces and attics. Open-Cell Spray Foam, while an excellent insulation product and air barrier, is susceptible to moisture. That is why we do not recommend it for application in certain areas of the building structure.
How does Spray Foam Insulation control moisture movement and condensation?
Most moisture problems in houses are due to moisture entry from air leakage introducing indoor air to outdoor air. This exchange causes condensation. Because Closed Cell Spray Foam is both an excellent air and vapor barrier, this source of moisture is virtually eliminated.
Does Spray Foam Change Over Time?
No, it is inert. Its physical and insulating properties are constant.
Will Spray Foam strengthen my house?
Yes, the structural integrity of Closed-Cell Spray Foam is one of its ‘fringe benefits.’ Closed-Cell Spray Foam is rigid foam with superior adhesion to all substrates. As a result it provides exceptional performance in improving wall and roof deck racking strength, making a top seller for windy locations or locations prone to tropical weather.
Don’t get confused: Open cell foam does not contribute to the structural integrity of a building.
Can Spray Foam be applied directly to electrical wiring?
Yes, Spray Foam can be applied directly to electrical wiring. Recessed lights or other fixtures may require a certain amount of air circulation around them for cooling purposes. We can address this on a case by case basis.
Can Spray Foam Reduce Allergens?
Yes, Closed-cell spray foam insulation will reduce the amount of outdoor allergens and pollutants when applied to the building because of the air tight seal that is created when it is applied.
Will Spray Foam increase my buildings structural integrity? Yes. Since our product is expansive, it becomes completely integrated into the structure and helps bolster the overall integrity of your home or commercial property. This is true in all applications but especially beneficial in roofing applications. When applied on or under your roof our product can help prevent premature sagging and thereby save you on unnecessary repair cost or early replacement. Pole barns and agricultural buildings become substantially stronger.
Is Spray Foam a “Green Product”?
Yes. Because our product reduces energy consumption by up to 50%, it is automatically a green product. Reducing your energy consumption is one of the best things you can do for the planet. However, it is also non-toxic and will never release any harmful or noxious odors or fumes, even long after it is installed.
Can Spray Foam increase your property value?
Yes. Buying a home that is insulated with spray foam, gives prospective buyers the peace of mind that the building is structurally stronger, quieter, warmer and has cleaner air to breathe. In addition to saving money every month on their energy bills the appliances such, furnaces and air conditioning equipment will not have to work as hard.