A Failsafe Formula For Finding the Right Spray Foam Insulation and Installer. Avoid Pitfalls, ensure comfort!
Ten years ago, Allison Bailes PHD wrote an article that appeared on his website Energy Vanguard, an excellent online newsletter/blog for building science, energy efficiency and green products. The article, “Four Pitfalls of Spray Foam Insulation” garnered thousands of hits and turned a number ready customers away from spray foam, though in most cases the culprit wasn’t the foam itself, but the installer.
- Spray foam isn’t thick enough. Poor quality installer!
- Too many air leakage sites were missed. Poor quality installer!
- Too much, too little spray foam. Poor quality installer!
- Foam contracts and pulls away from framing. Poor quality installer!
Time for an update—Ten years ago spray foam hardly had the foothold it does today. Current spray foam technology and installation acumen has leapfrogged into next generation science. Suffice it to say, spray foam is the most stable, versatile, valuable, and energy efficient way to insulate. The only thing standing in the way of it becoming the most popular choice is the perceived price and the selection process for the perfect installer.
In addition, many readers missed the part of Allison’s article where he clearly says, “Spray foam insulation is a great product. Homes insulated with it can be some of the most efficient and comfortable homes built.” The point of Allison’s article is NOT, Don’t use Spray Foam, the point is buy good foam from a great installer and you will be comfortable for the duration of the time you are in that home! As Allison concludes “The good news, though, is that spray foam’s problems are generally less frequent and easier to overcome with proper planning and follow through.”
Let’s go ahead and get price out of the way: (You do get what you pay for!)
Spray foam is more expensive up front, no question. Better quality contractors tend to charge more but help you avoid the PITFALLS! Depending on your climate, you can expect to save between 15% and 50% on energy costs over traditional insulation. Together with your HVAC system, the insulation you choose will determine the way your home will “feel” for the entire time you live there. If you live in the Midwest, that can be the difference between energy bills that can make you faint or bills that will make you smile.
My favorite story is the one where the guy had a 100-year-old brick building with zero insulation and three boilers. During the winter, all three boilers were running 24/7 and couldn’t keep the living space above 60. Monthly heating bills often toped $2000 in January, February and March. After new HVAC, windows and doors and $30K worth of spray foam were installed, the following winter, he paid $25 per month for heat! Hardly more expensive.