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Pros and Cons of Foam Insulation

A Brief Analysis of the Main Pros and Cons of Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is widely used nowadays. This article is an analysis of the pros and cons of opting for it.
Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: Mar 9, 2018
Spray foam insulation is very popular nowadays, owing to its ease of application. It is a good alternative to the traditional fiber glass variety. However, it's essential that one be aware of its pros and cons before using it, as its effectiveness will affect the heating costs for your home.
Almost forty percent of energy costs get invested in interior heating and cooling. There are ways in which you can reduce this spending. According to a governmental survey, an average US household spends around USD 650, every year, in heating and cooling. Both heating and cooling costs of your home can be reduced by choosing the right kind of interior insulation. Spending a few hundred dollars can cut down these heating and cooling bills, by as much as thirty to forty percent.
When selecting a proper insulation, one needs to consider the pros and cons. The air quality inside your home will be affected by it. One should also consider the environmental impact of the disposal of insulation materials, after usage. Another thing to consider is the 'R-value' of the material, which is a measure of its thermal resistance. Higher the R-value, better is the insulation that a material offers.
What is Foam Insulation?
This type comes in the form of spray guns, that can fill in gaps and crevices. Once the liquid chemical is sprayed into gaps, the material expands and seals the portion, acting as an effective insulation. These chemicals, made from a foaming agent and polymers, expand in the form of foam, to almost 100 times their original size and then dry out, as a mass of polymer bubbles.
Pros and Cons
This insulation comes in many types. The type of expanding spray foam, that is mostly used, is spray polyurethane foam. It is synthesized from polyiso and polyol resin and is sometimes partially based on soy. It can be used to effectively insulate walls and ceilings. It forms a barrier and prevents heat dissipation outside the home, during winter months, while in summer, it prevents heat from dissipating inside.
Unlike fiber glass insulation, which leaves cracks and gaps, through which heat dissipates, spray foam effectively seals these cracks, by expanding into them. This improves the quality of insulation. Additionally, it also prevents the heavy buildup of moisture and substantially lowers mold, as well as mildew problems. The hardened foam also prevents the infestation of insects, that may burrow into walls. Another quality of spray foam, that comes in handy, is its adhesive property, which improves the strength of a building structure.
Despite all these advantages, it has some minus points. One of the cons is that it's quite expensive, compared to other traditional materials. It needs to be protected from direct exposure to sunlight and certain solvents. Some people are known to be allergic to the foam material and it may cause health problems, if they come in direct physical contact with it. There is also the danger of toxic fumes being released, when the foam is subjected to fire. Some forms of this insulation may cause the emission of greenhouse gases.
To sum it all up, spray foam insulation is best used as a supplementary material, to fill in cracks and gaps, while largely relying on conventional eco-friendly insulating materials.
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