Response from the Insulation Contractor

So the folks who did the insulation read this blog and wanted to answer some of my questions and respond to some of my comments. So without further ado, here are a few comments from Bill Clark owner of Energy Foam Solutions.

I just read some of the Blog, so I thought I would add some detail on a few of your concerns:
1)   I recommended leaving the existing fiberglass insulation in the basement in place and applying foam over it. If you look at your “before” picture of the fiberglass you can see the exposed wood floor joists below the fiberglass on approximate 16” centers. This would have provided more than enough “point of attachment” for the spray foam insulation as it is basically a foamed polyurethane glue and sticks very well to almost all surfaces. This would have provided the air-seal we needed over the fiberglass for the floor insulation system to work correctly and would have eliminated any air-flow through the fiberglass. We have left existing fiberglass in place many times, the spray foam we apply has no issue holding it in place…
2)   Spray foam insulation works differently than any other insulation product, because it does not allow air to move through it, as its rated as an air-barrier via ASTM testing. Typically used insulation products, including fiberglass allow air to move through them which greatly reduces their effectiveness, as it is trapped/non-moving air that provides the insulations R-Value, this is really why higher R-Values are used with fiberglass, they are attempting to compensate for the loss’s through convective currents caused by air movement through the fiberglass. Because spray foam provides its own air barrier, less actual R-Value is needed to provide an even greater level of resistance to heat transfer. We regularly re-run Title-24 reports for spray foam insulation which allow us to install R-25 in an unvented attic assembly, R-13 in the exterior walls and R-13 in the floor system, where they we specifying R-38 in the ceiling, R-20 in the walls and R-19 in the floor with fiberglass or cellulose insulation and still exceed California’s strict Title-24 standards. Even with these lower installed R-Values, spray foam will still vastly outperform typically used (fiberglass/cellulose/cotton batt) insulation products.
3)   After all the fuss we had with the spray rig’s generator, it appears that some bad diesel fuel was the problem all along, I had a John Deere diesel tech out to your house yesterday to get to the bottom of the problem, but he could not find any issues with the engine and assured us it was not actually overheating, that it sounded like just bad fuel working its way through the system.
4)   We have always installed black plastic behind gable vents, even in new homes. If you do not like the way it looks, let me know we can paint a piece of plywood black and replace the plastic.
5)   The garage ceiling is not complete, even in the areas that you can see the foam. They need to remove all the screws, apply additional foam, then cut it off flush with the studs, so the air-seal is complete. They under-filled the area for now, so they do not have to fight the screws when cutting.
6)   The “odor” from the foam is not off-gassing. It is certified non off-gassing and Green-Guard certified. There are fumes while spraying, as the two components mix and travel through the air, but as the foam expands 10-15 seconds after it is applied there are not any additional fumes. The applied foam does have a distinctive smell/odor that different people have different levels of tolerance of. Because of that, we typically leave fans running until each homeowner is satisfied with any lingering odor and let them decide how long the fans run so they are happy with the end result, but in no way is the odor harmful.
7)   The foam we are installing is rated at R-3.8 per installed inch, but it expands at 120:1 and is difficult to install at exact depths, especially in existing homes. I always error on the side of the customer, we contracted to install R-30 in the attic so it is at least that.
8)   I apologize again for the sheetrock damage, it is very tight in places and we have to be within 24-inches with the foam gun perpendicular while applying the foam, it is always regrettable when it happens, but it does occasionally happen when working in very tight spaces with limited footing. It will be professionally repaired when the garage ceiling is fixed by the same sheetrock contractor.