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  • Writer's pictureEnergy Performance Solutions

The Potential Impact Of Spray Foam

The corrosive effects stemming from spray foam off-gassing pertain to the potential harm that may arise when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released during the curing process of spray foam insulation interact with specific materials. While spray foam is a widely utilized insulation method, it is imperative to recognize its potential for corrosive impact.

Exterior shot of a home focused on the upper floor and attic.

Organizations such as the EPA are currently investigating the long-term effects of spray foam off-gassing. Notably, no comprehensive independent studies have been conducted to date, leaving the effects largely unknown.

The airtight sealing of homes with spray foam has gained popularity among certain home builders in pursuit of constructing energy-efficient homes. While this is a commendable objective, it raises valid concerns. Any structure hermetically sealed is susceptible to sick building syndrome, a phenomenon witnessed widely in commercial buildings during the 1970s oil embargo, leading to federal mandates for sealing buildings. Many commercial buildings faced sick building syndrome due to recirculating air, a concern addressed in most jurisdictions through fresh air makeup codes mandating a specific amount of fresh air per person in the building.

However, residential building codes have not kept pace with these developments in the housing industry. Sealing a house airtight without providing fresh air can potentially trap off-gassing from spray foam, paint, flooring materials, and common home cleaning products.

Contrary to a prevailing misconception, relying on opening and closing outside doors during the day or expecting people to open windows on pleasant weather days is not a realistic solution. In many homes, occupants leave for work or school, keeping the home closed for 10 hours or more daily. Even in mild weather conditions in southern climates, windows may remain closed to prevent the accumulation of humidity and the acceleration of potential mold growth.

To minimize the risk of corrosive effects, it is recommended to:

  • Choose Appropriate Materials: To reduce the risk of corrosion, select materials that are compatible with the chemicals present in spray foam.

  • Follow Manufacturer Guidelines: Adhere to the manufacturer's guidelines for installation and curing processes. Proper application techniques can minimize the release of corrosive substances.

  • Ensure Proper Ventilation: Adequate ventilation during and after spray foam installation can disperse released chemicals, reducing their concentration and potential corrosive impact.

  • Professional Installation: Engage experienced professionals for spray foam installation and request a copy of the manufacturer's installation specifications. Proper installation techniques contribute to a more effective and less corrosive outcome.

To mitigate the risk of corrosive effects associated with spray foam off-gassing, it is crucial to consult with experts and adhere to industry best practices. Regular monitoring and inspections can further help identify potential issues early on.

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