Vapor Barrier vs Air Barrier

How Spray Foam Insulation Sets You Apart from the Pink Stuff

Winter fatigue is going to hit this month. With the recent heavy snowfalls in mid and late February, what everyone is looking for is a break in the weather.

What you don’t want to look for (and find) is mold or mildew in your attic, basement, or other spaces.

While you may think that mildew and mold take a break in the winter months, the fact is that these are actually the months they like best.

It might be bone-chilling cold outside, but you’ve got the furnace running to stay warm and comfortable, right?

If you remember your high school science class, cold on the outside and warm moist air on the inside creates condensation. Condensation that does not dry or evaporates is the perfect breeding ground for disease and allergy-causing mold and mildew.

How do you avoid this scenario? Insulation is the answer, but not just any type of insulation.

Let’s look at how you can best avoid condensation, mold and mildew in your home.

Home Ventilation 101

The relative humidity inside your home is increased in a variety of ways, including showers/ steam showers, bathtubs, humidifiers, indoor hot tubs, cooking, even just breathing can add a great deal of moisture into the air.

Moisture also enters our homes from the outside. Whenever you open a door or window, you allow moisture from outside to take a step inside your house.

While older homes might have a type of “natural” ventilation system, such as cracks around windows, chimneys, and other building flaws, this isn’t desirable either, at least as far as your heating and cooling bills are concerned. Let’s face it, if you have ever sat in a warm room with a draft from old leaky windows, you know how uncomfortable that room becomes.

The room will not only be uncomfortable, but it also is an open source for moisture to enter and grow black mold and mildew.

Vapor Barriers and Air Retarders

So, while air is leaking into your home via duct systems, attics, around the windows, and even electrical outlets, some contractors believed that a good way to fight moisture is to apply a vapor barrier paint on the inside the walls of a room.

A vapor barrier is any type of material that one might use to prevent moisture from moving through the walls.   While this might sound great, the fact is that, in practice, it doesn’t work. Vapor barriers will only provide a surface for condensation to occur as the warm interior air hits the freezing outside air.

Air barriers are far superior to vapor barriers in that it prevents air from moving between your interior heated space and the freezing space outside.

Spray foam is one of the best air barriers in the world. Spray foam will fill all cracks and crevices. It is extremely sticky, if you will, and has no problem adhering to all types of building materials.

While spray foam will make an air barrier that cannot be penetrated, your home does still some ventilation.

The Air Barrier/Ventilation Equation

The solution to this dilemma is to make your home as airtight as possible while taking full control over the movement of fresh air.

This is accomplished by using spray foam in all required areas, such as walls, attics, crawlspaces, and basements. Fresh air ventilation is controlled through mechanical ventilation.

Each home and building is different so the mechanical ventilation will vary, but some examples are a fresh air intake that works with your heating system, powered fans or blowers in strategic areas, and supply ventilation, which is the most common.  (Energy Recovery Ventilators/ or Heat Recovery Ventilators, among many other options for those of you who really want more info on this very nerdy but important topic!)

Spray foam is one of the best air barriers in the world. Spray foam will fill all cracks and crevices. It is extremely sticky, if you will, and has no problem adhering to all types of building materials.

How Does This Affect Mold and Mildew Problems?

Like most living things, mold and mildew need water, food, and air to grow. It is especially fond of higher temperatures, such as the type found in most homes during the winter months. Mold must have moisture to grow and spread.

When you lower moisture levels and allow fresh air to move across and dry surfaces, mold cannot grow, let alone thrive.

By insulating your home with spray foam and adding or improving your overall ventilation system, you will eliminate mold and mildew from finding a foothold anywhere inside your house.

In addition to spray foam, you can save money on energy bills and still prevent mold and mildew with some of the following tips:

  • Wipe dry surfaces that are wet after use, such as shower walls and doors, sinks, and floors or countertops after cleaning. They don’t need to be 100% dry but sopping up excess water will keep moisture levels down.
  • Hang wet towels or other wet clothing items don’t allow the kids to pile them up on the floor.
  • Close the fireplace damper if you are not using the fireplace.
  • Keep doors and windows closed after a rain and in the early morning since humidity levels are higher at this time.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to eliminate mold and mildew, drastically cut your heating and cooling bills, and have super comfortable rooms, spray foam is the answer you have been looking for.

Chicago Green Spray Foam Insulation is open and ready to do business. We use all necessary precautions and yes, we can even work in cold weather.

We are a licensed provider that can help you solve a wide range of problems that you may be experiencing with your homes, such as mold, mildew, rooms that are too hot or too cold, and extremely high energy bills.

Spray foam is safe for your family and lasts for decades. You will never regret having the experts at Chicago Green insulate your home!

Give the professionals at Chicago Green a call today. As I always say, comfort is just 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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