Foam Insulation Education: Pros and Cons
Lately, foam insulation has been all the talk. It’s being billed as a green, environmentally-friendly material, which is top of mind for many people. However, like most things in our world, it has its pros and cons.
Save on energy bills. All this foamy goodness is excellent for insulating your roof. The suspended aluminum particles of the foam reflect UV rays. This means your house won’t need as much heating in the winter and less cooling in the summer. As a result, you can save up to 30% on your A/C bills. Not too shabby.
Reduces carbons. When you decrease heat loss in the winter and keep heat out in the summer, it helps reduce CO2, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Keeps water out. Polyurethane is one of the best insulators out there. Closed-cell foam is the only insulating material that doesn’t sop up water. As a result, the amount of moisture that it accumulates will be less. So if you live where it rains a lot, foam insulation is a great choice. Bonus points about it: it also helps thwart allergens from getting into your dwelling.
Allows for flexibility. This material is versatile in terms of how many types of roofs it works with. You can install it on existing or new roofs, along with those that are domed, pitched, flat, wood, metal, as well as concrete. Another plus: your roof will be low-maintenance.
Helps roof structure stay intact. Foam withstands the expansion and contraction that occurs within your roof and home. It lasts a long time, too, and is seemingly unaffected by the weather.
Drains well. When it rains, it helps the water slope down to the drains. This happens when a little thickness is added to the low areas on your roof.
Could cause superheating. While foam insulation locks in heat, which helps keep your attic and garage heating at normal levels, if you use closed-cell, it locks in heat, which doesn’t allow for much circulation. It could turn into a big hot mess.
Contains toxic compounds. Most spray foam insulation products, also called spray-polyurethane foam (SPF), are a chemical produced by combining polyol resin and isocyanate. Generally speaking, this can be dangerous unless installed by a licensed contractor, who will ensure that it’s done right and cured, the latter being a critical process. No DIY-ing with this stuff.
Can be pricey. This material is, in the long run, cost-effective. But it does have high upfront costs, and installation can be particularly high.
Smells kinda bad. If foam insulation isn’t mixed properly, it can release a fishy smell that can stink up your home. However, this is usually due to contractor error. Don’t hire anyone but a reputable, licensed professional.
Possibly hides termites. These pesty buggers love to crunch wood and can create clandestine pathways inside your roof. The concern is that detecting these buggers via visual inspection will be a bit more difficult for pest control folks. You might have a big problem developing right under (and above) your feet.
Might cause mold. Generally, foam insulation, both spray and board products, is resistant to mold growth but is not mold-proof. Sometimes, mold is found on the surface of closed-cell. However, on open-celled foam, it’s rare, and on Expanded Polystyrene Insulation (EPS), it’s virtually uncommon.
As you can see, you’ve got to investigate foam insulation and decide for yourself what you’re comfortable with, the risks vs. benefits. But, no matter your choice, we’re here to help you with your home, from top to bottom, inside to outside. All you have to do is call.