Dangers of Spray Foam Insulation: Deep Dive

Would you like to install spray foam insulation in your home? If yes, it’s a great choice, however, you must learn about what you might be exposing yourself to. Spray foam insulation will entail vapours and aerosols which require you or the professional installer to have respiratory, eye, and skin protection. 

Spray foam insulation is also prone to fires since it releases amines, hydrogen cyanide, isocyanates, and other toxic chemicals into the air. To negate this, you should look through the local fire department advisories to attain air respirators supply to combat any polyurethane fires. 

What is spray foam insulation? 

Spray foam is a liquid insulation material that air seals and insulates wherever it’s applied. The liquid insulation material is available as an iso and resin. The application of these two liquids should be made by a professional to negate any hurdles.

If you’re not faint-hearted, you can try a DIY approach to spray foam insulation. Upon application, as long as the DIY was successful, the spray foam should expand and cover all the cavities. The two types that you might have to choose from are open cell or closed cell spray foam insulation.

Wearing the proper gear will ensure that you won’t inhale the vapours and aerosols. Therefore, you ought to have: wrap around goggles, chemical resistant gloves, and a full protective suit. Don’t cheap out on the equipment by attaining some cheap eBay glasses or the now ordinary latex gloves.

As for the equipment, you will need a moisture meter. The tool will assist in knowing some of the wet surfaces around the house. Applying spray foam around a damp surface isn’t advisable since it won’t stick. And you wouldn’t want that for your home, would you?

You also need a spraying gun and an empty box or garbage bin to test whether the chemicals are flowing un-varyingly. Mixing tips are also crucial since you have to install a new one after pausing for a coffee break. Changing the tips ensures that you will not use a tip that has clogged spray foam in it.

Dealing with Spray Foam Fumes 

If you’re eager to know about spray foam insulation fumes, then you might have come across the horror stories of volatile organic compounds and toxic chemicals. Dealing with the fumes before conducting the insulation will be the only way of ensuring that these issues don’t occur in your home. 

How do you deal with spray foam fumes? First, you need to understand that not all spray foams are made in the same manner, thus contributing to a difference in the quality. One way of saving your health will be by purchasing quality spray foam.

Compare the different brands in the market and look at some online reviews. A quality spray foam will be less volatile when applied in your home. However, choosing quality spray foam isn’t all that you ought to do.

Protection, protection, protection. Don’t skimp on attaining the best equipment and protective gear. You have to cover your body with a full-body suit, your eyes with wrap-around goggles, and your hands with some chemical resistant gloves. 

Ventilation is another way of mitigating the hazardous spray foam fumes. Ensure that no matter the location you’ll be spraying the spray foam in, you can have a fan that will maintain consistent airflow. Also, open all the windows and doors around the house. 

To ensure that the spray foam cures properly and you won’t inhale toxins, stay away from the house for at least 24 hours. Seek refuge from a friend or a family member before the insulation cures, and you are sure that there are no toxins for you to inhale.

Potential Fire Hazard 

Even if spray foam ignites at 700 degrees Fahrenheit, it can act as a fire accelerant. Did you know that you had 17 minutes to escape a burning building 30 years ago while you only have 4 minutes nowadays? Why? You may ask. New properties burn quicker due to the materials used during construction.

We already know that spray foam insulation can act as a fire accelerant, however, it can provide you with additional 30 minutes to escape a burning house. Instead of worrying if spray foam is fireproof, ask yourself whether it will be fire retardant.

Nothing is fireproof. With time, any material you opt for insulation within your house can become flammable. It will depend on the different factors that these materials will be exposed to over time. However, choosing a spray foam insulation with preservatives that reduce flammability might reduce the combustion rate.

You should also protect your spray foam insulation from any sources of ignition. To accomplish this, you can either use: ignition barriers and thermal barriers.

A thermal barrier works by delaying the temperature of the foam to rise during a fire. It has to be installed between interior spaces and the spray foam insulation. For attics and crawl spaces, some regulations might require you to use ignition barriers instead.

The different ignition barrier materials that will work with spray foam insulation will include:

  • 6.4 mm wood structural panels
  • 6.4 mm hardboard
  • 38 mm mineral fiber insulation
  • 9.5 mm gypsum board
  • 9.5 mm particleboard

To prevent your home from any ignition hazards, you should consider looking for a contractor to install the spray foam. By using closed cell spray foam insulation, you will have an air and vapour barrier. It will be the best option for ensuring that your home will be fire retardant. So, take some time and digest that.

Installing Spray Foam Insulation Successfully

 So, what have we learned? First, protection is essential during spray foam insulation. However, if you’re not one for the DIY approach, a professional contractor will save you the hassles of wondering the best spray foam to use. 

Secondly, your home doesn’t need to be fire-resistant. Instead, you need to choose spray foam that will be fire retardant. Don’t forget that you need to install some protective barriers to protect the foam from potential ignition sources. These barriers include drywalls and gypsums installed on top of the insulation.