Most of the energy costs spent to keep a Little Portugal home warm in the winter and cool in the summer end up leaving through the attic. In the summer, the sun’s heat pours in through the attic and in the winter, warm air rises past the ceiling and out of the home. Saving on energy costs starts in the attic, but how much insulation is enough?
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Although spray foam insulation as we know it today truly emerged in the 1980s around the Little Portugal area, spray foam actually has its roots several decades further in the past, beginning with the development of polyurethane foam in the 1940s by Otto Bayer. Otto Bayer, an industrial chemist, actually began working with polyurethane in Germany during the late 1930s. This technology was brought to the United States in the early 1940s by David Eynon, the president of Mobay, a war effort conglomerate created from the partnering of two chemical industry giants, Monsanto and the Bayer Corporation.
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Spray Foam Insulation is a two-component system typically consisting of petroleum oils, plastics, and resins. The polyurethane foam comes in two different forms, open cell and closed cell foam. The polyurethane spray foam is an extremely versatile material that is available in a variety of final physical properties and densities. Although the two types of foam are very similar in their chemical structures their characteristics and capabilities differ in many ways, which makes it necessary for the user to understand the differences of the two materials so he or she can determine which is the right foam for their particular application.
The open cell spray foam insulation contains a density of 0.5lb. per cubic foot. The greater the density of the foam the heavier, or stronger it will become. This particular type of polyurethane foam is referred to as "Open Cell" because of the nature of the chemical reaction during the installation process. When the polyurethane foam is being applied the tiny cells of the foam are broken causing air to fill the "open" space inside the material, resulting in a soft or spongy material. The open cell foam carries an R-Value of 5 to 5.5 per inch (R-Value is the measure of thermal resistance, which can be found by identifying the ratio of the temperature difference across an insulator and the heat flux). 0.5lb. foam products use significantly less material than 2lb. foam products do when completing the same sized job, making them attractive to an individual concerned with conserving the foam material. Due to the fact that open cell foam requires less material, the cost of the project is much cheaper than it would be if you were to apply closed cell foam. Although, Open cell foam is an efficient and economical product it contains some disadvantages in regards to closed cell foam. One of the open cells disadvantages is it has a lower R-Valuer per square inch than closed cell foam does and open cell foam is vapor permeable requiring it to be covered with a vapor retardant material. Although, open cell foam has some advantages and disadvantages it has been recognized as an excellent insulator, air sealant and sound barrier.
There are many things a home or building owner should take into consideration when considering the type of foam that should be used for their particular application. Although both types of foam are by far the best insulators on the market, each type of polyurethane foam possess its own characteristics and capabilities. It is imperative for the user to identify which foam is right for them before applying the product.
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Movement of air in and out of a home can be a leading cause of escalated energy bills. Air can enter your house through holes, cracks and crevices. You can stop unconditioned air from entering your home and indoor conditioned air from escaping outside by adding an advanced insulation system to achieve optimal building performance.
A number of companies are offering DIY polyurethane foam insulation kits for home use. TigerFoam, Handi Foam from FomoFoam, Foam It Green DIY Kits are some of the top brands available online. Tiger Foam offers both Slow Rise and Fast Rise formulations. The Slow Rise is for filling wall cavities and other hidden closed-off spaces in the house. The Fast Rise foam is more suitable for spraying surfaces.
The DIY kits come complete with all the equipment needed to apply the spray foam-nozzles, tank, hose and tips. They also have careful step-by-step instructions that need to be followed in order to the job safely and also for best results.
Apart from insulation the polyurethane foam also acts as a sound barrier. It is moisture resistant and hence prevents mold in the wall cavities and wall surfaces. The excellent insulation capacity of the foam results in the complete cut-off of air transfer from and into the house. Retention of temperature of the house is excellent in homes insulated using polyurethane foam insulation kits. You will save a ton of money in utility bills and the insulation costs will soon paid for.