How Safe is Spray Foam Insulation?
November 19, 2015
Safety with spray foam insulation has everything to do with a professional approach to project management. With spray foam insulation, safety is about proper working conditions; it's about professional installation; and it's about competent and qualified product handling. This is not a project work for the uninitiated - professional installers are highly trained, with product handling expertise, and comprehensive application experience. Spray foam insulation requires it all. Industry professionals are in general agreement that when spray foam insulation has "cured", the polyurethane spray foam compounds are safe.
But the fact remains - these are highly specialized chemical compounds, and they require skill and proficiency during preparing and installation. Beyond work site safety, professional installers also ensure the safety and security of occupants - and that means vacating premises during the application of the spray foam insulation. As it is, spray foam insulation is an amalgamation of "live" chemical compounds. These are mixed and prepared at the work site, so it's critical for the installer to work safe. Here again, it's key to note that a typical homeowner should not be engaging in a weekend DIY project. Professional contractors are highly trained - they are always outfitted with personal protective equipment (PPE), and are always applying spray foam insulation under strict safety protocols.
For the homeowner, it's particularly important to hire a contractor who is reputable. Contractors who specialize in spray foam insulation will provide installers who are licensed and certified, and who subscribe to industry standards for health and safety. And today, with spray foam insulation gaining such popularity, it's absolutely mandatory for the homeowner to be focused on safety. Needless to say, the better contractors are already on board with these concerns. Spray foam insulation is overseen by various industry associations, and regulated by government standards.
But clearly, nothing is perfect, and homeowners must be attentive. Here, "let the buyer beware" is the working approach, and that means choosing a contractor with scrutiny; assessing the contractor's credentials carefully; and doing some research on the contractor's history. It also means keeping a close eye on the installers and what they're actually doing onsite.
A safe spray foam installation will have all the noticeable signs of professionalism. The installer will ensure that the final application is fully cured. The project manager will ensure that there are no unusual odors or fumes being emitted. And finally, there should be NO rupture or cracking of the insulation envelope. The truth is, a good contractor will be diligent from start to finish, and will be aware of issues before, during and after installing the spray foam insulation. In Canada, standards for spray foam insulation are more rigorous than the USA. As such, reports about bad installations or awful outcomes are infrequent, as are associated consumer complaints. But it's important to remember that nothing is perfect, and even with the best company and the most experienced installers, problems do arise. Just another reason to hire a reliable, reputable contractor who can offer guarantees on the product installed and the work performed.