Home Construction Fail

Home Construction Fail: Several Broken Pipes and a Chilly Kitchen—Even After a Remodel

I had a conversation recently with a retired psychologist who asked me if I would bid on a spray foam project in her kitchen.

She lives on the North Shore and had added a major addition to her home a few years ago. During the polar vortex, that part of the home was great. However, she couldn’t say the same about her remodeled kitchen, which is in the original footprint of the home.

When the kitchen was remodeled, they only went down to the drywall. Nothing was done but cabinets, floors and finishes. Several broken pipes later, she regrets that and is looking to remedy the issue.

She had a bid for $1,500 from another spray foam company that said, “Trust us”! I explained that we don’t work that way and advised that she start by having one of our trusted analysts (a third-party company) use blower door and thermal imaging tests to find the path where the air is leaking out. With that information, I told her, we would be able to quantify the data before any work was done. I assured her that we knew what we were doing and that we have the tools to back that up.

She agreed, and after our professional evaluation, is now looking at a 50 percent reduction in air leakage in her kitchen. Come winter, she’ll be ready for whatever Mother Nature brings.

For us to go in and apply spray foam without a professional evaluation would be similar to asking a doctor to put a cast on a broken arm or leg without taking an X-ray.

Why Should I Care about a Blower Door Test?

A blower door test is a gold-standard diagnostic tool that experts use to measure the amount of air that leaks out of your home. Think of it as testing your home’s “air tightness.” During the test, the examiner applies a measurable and consistent pressure to your home to obtain accurate results about the home’s energy efficiency.

The blower test is one of the hottest topics in the construction world right now, partially because a test must be performed now to close out any residential building permit in Illinois. And unlike some other forms of checks and balances in construction, the test results can’t be faked or skewed.

Unfortunately, I frequently receive calls from homeowners whose projects have been completed, but their homes are not passing the blower door test. Many of them want a quick fix. It’s not uncommon for them to say they’ll point out the “problem areas” if we can just apply the spray foam.

You Wouldn’t Cast a Limb Without an X-Ray

However, it’s not that easy. There are a number of challenges that come with diagnosing a home once the drywall is up, and there are no shortcuts to figuring out why the home won’t pass a blower door test.

For us to go in and apply spray foam without a professional evaluation would be similar to asking a doctor to put a cast on a broken arm or leg without taking an X-ray. No doctor would agree to that, and similarly, we can’t try to correct issues in someone’s home without doing a thorough investigation.

Spray Foam Can’t Do It Alone

Spray foam is an outstanding way to seal a home. However, even spray foam cannot overcome the failure of poor construction framing. What does that mean to you?

We recommend reducing your risk of failure at inspection time by involving Chicago Green Insulation as early as possible in your project. We can help whether you’re adding a new addition, remodeling or building a new home. When you work with us, we’ll be involved throughout the entire process to ensure that things are done right the first time.

The difference between our company and other spray foam installers is that we guide you through the entire process of construction to ensure that you get top notch framing, where every stud should receive a bead of caulk before it is hammered into place, and sometimes double, or triple, or more. We also make sure that every bottom plate and every top plate is caulked and constructed perfectly so that there aren’t any gaps that can lead to failing the blower test.

Not only does that ensure that your project doesn’t run longer than it has to; you also won’t be left paying to redo someone’s mistake.

What If It’s Too Late for That?

If your home project is already complete, and it’s not passing inspection, we can help. We work with highly qualified, third-party experts to diagnose the issues and identify where the problems lie. From there, we can tell you what course of action is needed.

Not sure that’s the best route? Call others if you want to roll the dice.  Call Chicago Green Insulation for the right approach, every time!

As I always say: Comfort is only a FOAM call away!

About the Author, Tom Decker

With ten years of experience selling spray foam insulation in Chicago, Tom Decker is THE person to call and the Chicago Green Insulation is the organization to hire when you are looking for top notch quality and performance as well as someone who can deal with the needs of code officials, home owners and general contractors. Call the others in Chicago, if you are interested in the cheapest price, call Chicago Green Insulation if you are interested in using your dollars to make Chicago a better city for all of us!

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