Every homeowner wants to see their energy bills go down, for both the environmental and environmental benefits. With experts affirming that spray foam insulation can slash heating and cooling costs in half, the product is proof that saving the planet and saving money can go hand-in-hand.
However, as the spray foam insulation process is becoming more popular than ever in Canada, there are also growing concerns about the health and safety risks associated with it.
Is there any Risks of Spray Foam Insulation?
Right now, spray foam insulation is a booming business in both Canada’s commercial spray foam insulation and residential spray foam insulation sectors. This year alone, close to a half million households will be choosing spray foam insulation as an option to keep their attic, basement insulation or garage from driving up energy costs.
Aside from being an eco-friendly option to cut costs, spray foam insulation also provides an airtight seal that greatly reduces outside noise, improves air conditions and creates a barrier to mold and mildew-causing moisture. That being said, not everyone is sold on the products’ many benefits.
In 2013, CBC’s Marketplace released a report that investigated the possible dangers of spray foam insulation, or, more accurately, the dangers of spray foam insulation being done incorrectly.
Although Marketplace contended that spray foam insulation contractors are able to offer many benefits to residential and commercial properties, they also reported a number of risks when not done right.
Spray foam insulation requires a very precise mixing of chemicals, as well as expert contractors who can apply it safely and properly. When done incorrectly, a contractor might accidentally leave your house with cracked or incomplete insulation, or even pose a risk to your health through off-gassing.
Off-gassing is a term that’s used when the chemicals that are supposed to be keeping your house nicely insulated are instead released into the air. This can cause a strong, fish-like odour that many homeowners report to be extremely unpleasant, and some have even described it as making the house “unlivable.”
However, a stinky basement or attic insulation is the least of your worries if your spray foam insulation causes off-gassing. According to the CBC report, some people have experienced breathing difficulties, throat irritation and other health problems as the result of off-gassing. These effects are all the more detrimental for those already suffering from allergies or respiratory problems.
Along with interviewing a diverse range of experts, the CBC report also spoke to unsatisfied homeowners, including one family who claimed they were unable to live in their house because of the damages caused by improper installation.
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On top of this, improperly installed spray foam insulation simply won’t offer the same protection against moisture, mildew and mold. Mold is never pleasant to deal with or easy to look at it, but in some cases, it can only add the health risks associated with improperly applied spray foam insulation.
Mold can cause coughing and wheezing, along with irritation of the throat, eyes and skin. In fact, the CDC has suggested that there is evidence that the impact of mold can be so severe that it can directly cause otherwise healthy children to develop asthma.
Homeowners and their families are not the only people to experience these detrimental and dangerous effects. They can also affect customers and employees in commercial settings, as well as impact productivity.
Recent Completed Projects by Spray City Insulation
- Spray foam insulation in a Toronto Basement and garage
- Markham spray foam insulation project
- Attic, basement and 2nd floor insulation in Toronto
In the United States, a number of class action lawsuits have already been brought forward from unhappy homeowners who expected to see a decline in their energy bills, but instead saw a decline in their health.
The good news is that there are currently no similar lawsuits forthcoming in Canada, and The Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association (CUFCA) claims that only a small handful of complaints related to spray foam insulation are brought forward every year. That said, it is still critical that every Canadian home or business owner does their due diligence and researches contractors extensively before making a choice.
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Threats of DIY Spray foam Insulation
One of the latest trends in home improvement is do-it-yourself or “DIY” projects. While DIY can save homeowners money when it comes to simple repairs and straightforward projects like painting, it can be incredibly dangerous to take on spray foam insulation without a professional contractor.
With prices between 500 and 800 dollars, many big box retailers sell DIY spray foam insulation kits that come equipped with basic protective gear, instructional DVDs, and chemicals that consumers must mix and prepare on their own.
These kits might be as labelled as “for professional use only”, but with anyone on the street free to buy a kit from their local hardware store, the risks are plentiful.
Obviously, the average homeowner is unqualified and uncertified to install spray foam insulation, but the dangers go much deeper than that. While still wet, the vapors produced by spray foam insulation is very flammable, and fire officials have warned Canadian citizens against self-application for this very reason.
Fire officials are not the only authorities who have stepped forward to warn the public about the potential dangers of do-it-yourself spray foam insulation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also spoken out against the rising trend, saying untrained homeowners are putting themselves at a very high risk of being directly exposed to dangerous chemicals.
Although in professional settings, the fire hazard will only last until the spray foam insulation sets and dries, well-meaning but untrained DIYers face another challenge. If they apply the insulation on too thick, then they run the risk of it not drying properly, and drastically increasing the risk of off-gassing.
Those looking to install spray foam insulation by themselves also face the risk of not being properly equipped to protect themselves. Professional contractors have expensive, comprehensive gear that’s specifically designed to keep themselves safe. DIY kits may seem like a great deal, but they often offer flimsy, bare-bones protective gear that aren’t up to industry standards.
Additionally, while many consumers are attracted to spray foam insulation for its formidable durability, this can be a double-edged sword when improperly installed. Spray foam insulation is super durable can lower a household’s energy costs for years to come, but that can also make it very challenging to remove and replace if need be.
If you have already tried to install spray foam by yourself, or have hired a contractor you’re unhappy with, it’s important not to take it upon yourself to fix the mistake. Hacking away at already set foam insulation can create a fine dust that can easily spread through your house, and only cause further damage to your respiratory system.
If you’re unsatisfied with the insulation in your house, the best course of action is to contact a trusted, well-reviewed contractor to come in and see what can be done to fix the damage
The best way any costly re-dos, as well as prevent coughing fits, allergy attacks or even tragic fires is to leave spray foam insulation to the professionals.
That said, while having a professional contractor come in is a necessary first step towards safe, high-quality insulation, it’s still important to do your research. DIYers are not the only ones to make mistakes that could lead to burdening costs or health risks. Finding the right professional is essential to balancing savings, sustainability and personal safety.
Want to know more details about Spray Foam Installation? Call us today @ 416-613-5881
Right spray foam Insulation Contractor makes the difference
The CBC investigation came to the same conclusion that any spray foam insulation expert already knew: that the safety of the product really comes down to the person in charge of installing it.
Without proper training and experience, any professional contractor is vulnerable to easily preventable mistakes. The risks described in the report can be scary to read as a homeowner and can dissuade consumers from making the best choice to improve costs and comfort within their home.
Regardless of which contractor you choose, the Marketplace report strongly suggests requesting a written contract that promises free repairs for any damages or improper installation on the contractor’s part.
The good news is that, if you’ve already had the spray foam insulation installed and your contractor is either unable or unwilling to fix any problems, you are able to reach out to that contractor’s Quality Assurance Program for further support.
The even better news is that there’s a simple solution to both the issue of DIY dangers and under trained contractors: just hire a great contractor!
Located in Toronto and available across the GTA, Spray City Insulation offers high-quality, affordable and completely safe spray foam insulation for both commercial and residential needs. Every single Spray City Insulation contractor is an experienced professional who has received top-notch training and is a recipient of Morrison Hershfield quality assurance certification. Contact us today at 416-613-5881 to get the best service.
During the certification process, each contractor undergoes comprehensive training that encompasses all the policies, procedures and technical skills relevant to spray foam insulation. The program includes an extensive focus on safety and includes multiple evaluations to ensure every candidate meets their rigorous standards. Contractors learn from the best specialists in Canada and emerge from the program well-prepared to help meet your needs.
Not only that, but Spray City Insulation is also committed to using the highest quality equipment for safety, air quality and sound dampening. Spray City Insulation is able to work with you to find the best insulation option for your business or household, and improve costs, without safety ever being a worry. With the best tools, the best practices and the best certifications, Spray City is an obvious choice for any household worried about safety concerns.
If you’re still apprehensive about the process, it’s important to remember that improper insulation comes with its own health risks as well. From a weakened immune system in freezing cold weather to respiratory problems caused by mold, going without high-quality insulation won’t be doing your body any favours.
Keeping your house safe from drafts, excess heat and moisture is essential to optimize your family’s health and safety. By choosing Spray City Insulation, you’re making a step that’s great for your body, your planet and your wallet, all while curbing the health risks presented by DIY kits and less qualified contractors.
If you’re ready to leave ultra-high energy bills in the past and live more comfortably than ever before, it’s time to consider Toronto spray foam insulation. With the help of Spray City Insulation, the option that saves you the most money can also be the one that’s safest for you and your family.