The Shortcomings of Spray Foam Insulation
Attic insulation is the crucial line of defense that keeps your home energy-efficient. There are several styles of insulation, each with their own distinct characteristics and levels of effectiveness. One of the varieties of home insulation you’ll find is spray foam insulation. Originally developed for usage in military aircraft, spray foam insulation has been available for residential attics since the 1970s. However, it’s worth asking – is it as potent as its alternatives? In several ways, it is at a disadvantage compared to other types of insulation.
The price of spray foam insulation is its first prohibitive obstacle. It is quite expensive compared to conventional insulation alternatives. Open-cell foam will cost 44 to 65 cents per board foot, while closed-cell foam runs anywhere from $1 to $1.50 per foot. Scaling this up, the national average cost to spray-insulate an attic is $2,326. Fortunately, the San Antonio area’s average cost is about $300 lower, but it’s still a daunting number.
While the convenient application of spray foam insulation is a plus, it’s important to look at what’s in the mixture of substances. The foam is a petroleum product, and some of its components have lasting environmental side effects. Some flame-retardant chemicals added to the foam, such as HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) are highly persistent in the environment, accumulating in food chains and causing reproductive, neurological, and developmental defects.
Also, some people can display allergic reactions to the chemicals in spray foam insulation. If you react negatively to strong bathroom or kitchen cleaning solvents, you will likely display the same symptoms when exposed to spray insulation. Furthermore, these chemicals can be fatal to children who accidentally ingest them.
Perhaps the biggest factor in the effectiveness of spray foam insulation is the application. If the foam is not applied diligently, it’s practically being wasted. It can roll off surfaces and fold over itself, leaving large gaps. This failure to properly adhere can stem from poor mixing or extreme temperatures. And in a particularly egregious error, sometimes spray foam insulation is simply applied in layers that are too thin. If a layer of foam insulation is less than two inches thick, it’s highly unlikely that energy codes are being met.
It may seem like a quick and easy solution, but spray foam insulation comes with a significant set of problems. As a responsible homeowner with an eye towards the future, you’re better off with traditional R-30 insulation and radiant barriers. In fact, the Copperflect radiant barrier carried here at Green Energy of San Antonio is designed to prevent the transfer of up to 95% of radiant heat, which results in up to 35% savings on monthly energy costs. If you’re ready to insulate your attic the right way, give us a call today. We can even get you started with a free estimate!