We have a 1950's ranch in Atlanta and are interviewing foam contractors to spray open cell under the roof, with an "ankle wall" out towards the eaves to seal the attic. My wife and daughters are chemically sensitive, so I'm trying to figure out how to minimize the fumes coming into the house. Additionally, at least one contractor has offered (for > $900) to remove our existing rock wool & R-13 fibreglass from the attic floor to "increase cross-ventilation into the attic". Seems to me I can't both minimize fumes AND increase cross-ventilation. They also offered to spray a fire-retardant on for >$600. Would ventilation during installation help any or woud the retardant seal off the foam and help that way? Thanks...

Where Can I Purchase Spray Foam Insulation


While the R value will vary, most ocSPF products have an R value of around 3.8 per inch. Unlike medium-density closed-cell SPF, ocSPF is not a vapour barrier. When installed at 5.5 inches or more, ocSPF does act as an air barrier. It is often used for interior walls because it provides sound reduction by blocking and absorbing air leakage. It is usually only recommended for indoor applications.

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Fill and seal expanding foam sealant is urethane Fill and seal expanding foam sealant is urethane foam designed to fill large areas quickly and permanently. Uses include filling holes cracks or gaps that require a complete airtight and waterproof seal but are too large to be filled with ordinary caulk. The foam expands approximately 3 times its original ...  More + Product Details Close
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How To Buy Spray Foam Insulation


DID YOU KNOW? Spray FOam insulation out-performs conventional insulation materials because they (conventional insulation materials) trap still-dry air and if that air moves or becomes wet, the thermal resistance can drop by 50%. Spray Foam protects against air infiltration, which can increase energy costs in buildings by 10 to 40%. Eliminate these drafts and live in a more energy-efficient, comfortable and healthier building by choosing spray foam insulation.

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Most samples of closed cell spray foam insulation have an R-value of 7 or greater. Open cell spray foam, which is acknowledged to have a lower density, has an R-value of 4 which still rates higher than other kinds of insulation. Spray foam can be evenly employed on a surface and even be inserted into hard-to-reach places to produce a tight seal over the area.
For large jobs, professionals such as Dr. Energy Saver use two-part foam, which comes in larger containers. With 2-part spray foam, it's necessary to mix separate resin and catalyst compounds at the application nozzle. Combining these ingredients starts a chemical reaction that creates expanding foam. Contractors use small 2-part foam "kits" to air-seal an attic or to seal and insulate ductwork. To insulate an entire attic or wood-framed wall with spray foam, the resin and catalyst compounds are pumped to the application nozzle from 50-gallon drums in a specially equipped truck.
The guys who sprayed my attic were trained and certified, but I later found out, too late, that they had no experience and my attic was the first they'd ever sprayed. I was also never told to vacate my house for any length of time, and so I (and my pets) were in the house the day they sprayed and the entire time the off ratio foam was filling my home with horrendous vapors. The company kept telling me that it was a good job and I had nothing to worry about, even after I'd had 2 other experienced sprayers from 2 different companies visually examine the foam and confirm that large areas appeared to be off ratio. The 3rd sprayer from yet another company, was also outraged because the company who did my attic had failed to vacuum up all of the old cellulose insulation, and he also noticed areas where the foam was shrinking or pulling away, and this was not even 5 weeks after the spraying.  
While the R value will vary, most ocSPF products have an R value of around 3.8 per inch. Unlike medium-density closed-cell SPF, ocSPF is not a vapour barrier. When installed at 5.5 inches or more, ocSPF does act as an air barrier. It is often used for interior walls because it provides sound reduction by blocking and absorbing air leakage. It is usually only recommended for indoor applications. http://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o?version=3

R-value, the thermal resistance measure of insulation, varies between all insulation products whether they are fiberglass, cellulose, open-cell spray foam insulation or closed-cell sprayed-in foam insulation. Generally speaking the rule of thumb is the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  Focusing on spray foam insulation materials, there is a difference between the two main types. According to industry publication, Fine Home Building, the R-value for open-cell spray foam is between R-3.5 – R-3.6 per inch. However, there are open-cell spray foam insulation products actually offer R-3.7 per inch such as Icynene Classic and Icynene Classic Max. The open cell structure of low density foam insulation means the R-value is lower than its closed-cell counterpart. Nevertheless, open-cell spray foam does offer superior and consistent thermal insulation and air sealing properties.

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Spray polyurethan foam does effectly prevent all six of these heat transfer methods from occurring. These should be the mechanisms by which you judge insulation, in addition to their R-Value. If you're uncertain about installing spray foam insulation, Energy Star has a map that recommends levels of insulation by R-value and cost-effectiveness in the United States.
Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true. http://kvsprayfoam.com/images/KV-Spray-Foam-Metal-Roof.jpg
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