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We have a 1950's ranch in Atlanta and are interviewing foam contractors to spray open cell under the roof, with an "ankle wall" out towards the eaves to seal the attic. My wife and daughters are chemically sensitive, so I'm trying to figure out how to minimize the fumes coming into the house. Additionally, at least one contractor has offered (for > $900) to remove our existing rock wool & R-13 fibreglass from the attic floor to "increase cross-ventilation into the attic". Seems to me I can't both minimize fumes AND increase cross-ventilation. They also offered to spray a fire-retardant on for >$600. Would ventilation during installation help any or woud the retardant seal off the foam and help that way? Thanks...
Jennifer, I'm not an expert on the health effects of closed cell foam. A lot of people live in houses with closed cell foam and have no health problems from it, at least not short-term, acute problems. I do know of one person who had it removed from her crawl space because she was convinced it caused her dog to get sick, but I know only what she told me.
I've seen this only once, and it was with closed cell foam, but I've heard of it happening with open cell foam, too. I don't know the details, but I've heard it could result from a bad batch of chemicals, improper mixing, or too high a temperature. Whatever the cause, it's not a good thing. The photo below shows how the spray foam pulled away from the studs. A little bit of uninsulated area like that adds up to a lot of heat loss/gain when the whole house has that problem, as it did here. Spray Coating Services
I've had concerns with foam in walls with only 2-3" and the resulting air space & convective currents. spray foam for walls is not one of my recommendations to my clients. instead foam sheathing to exterior of walls caulked,taped & sealed. conventional insulation & air tight drywall approach. a better and affordable wall with no extremely long payback like spray foam in walls. Insulation Spray Coating
Good article, but it seems like you can chalk up almost all of those problems to the experience level of whomever is spraying the foam. Spray foam isn't an inherently bad product, but it's pretty easy to botch if the hired company is inexperienced. Fiberglass may be foolproof to install, but then again it has a terrible R-Value compared to a good spray foam. People just need to get referrals and do their homework whenever they research a spray foam contractor.
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