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Small Cabin Forum / Cabin Construction / Is home spray foam insulation dangerous?
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Myoldhomefallsapart
Member
# Posted: 5 Aug 2021 17:29
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I just saw a news report about a family in Canada who had to move out of their expensive home as it smelled after fish and they got sick.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hh5MYv7lWc

ruralboy
Member
# Posted: 5 Aug 2021 20:17
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Hi fallinghome, 'home insulation = dangerous' is a bit of a generic insult (for lack of a better word due to being tired tonight so forgive me there) because there are several well known types of insulations that gives off no toxic chemical fumes. Only issue is that some of these are not easy to find 'nearby' in certain geographical areas as far as North America as whole goes tho.

And on a relative note to this, common paint most people get has a lot of longterm fume in it but on the other hand the other kind of paint a smaller number of people buy (especially as some of these painters are from the eco-house niche) goes on the wall just as easily but doesn't smell right away or even ten months later.

Hope that was a friendly first answer to your question?

gcrank1
Member
# Posted: 5 Aug 2021 22:35
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Some building materials do 'offgas' and some people write reports that are very misleading and/or are dated regarding materials used, etc. Nothing ever really dies on the internet....
The unhealthy materials used in the past have had to evolve for the marketplace and the regulators. The fact is there are plenty of insulation materials that will give you no problems.
One theme Ive noticed recurring is that extremely tightly built new housing can have issues and that in a fast build materials used dont have a chance to offgas/breath so everything is trapped inside. I build so slowly that is not a problem......

CabinBuilder
Admin
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 04:36
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Not sure it it's related:
My house basement smelled fish when we first moved in. Turned out the plastic light fixtures gave that odour when they heat up.
Replaced fixtures with ceramic - smell is gone.
Makes me wonder why manufacturers are still selling those, as it is fairly obvious.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 07:22
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I remember watching that report before we got our spray foam.
I spoke to the man that did our job. He knew all about it. He told me it was the way they applied the spray foam. It was not cured in between coats. If I recall correctly.
There is no way I would attempt to DIY something like this. It’s dangerous because you could inhale the stuff and it will expand in your lungs. When I saw how the guy we hired had to suit up, the respirator he wore. He also cautioned us about staying away (I planned on it) and was adamant about us staying out of our cabin for 24 hours. We stayed away from our cabin while he was spraying because I was afraid we might inhale some particles. I’m sure that was his concern as well.
Done right, spray foam is the best.
There was no odor and there has not been.
Our cabin is cooler in the summer and retains heat in the cooling months.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 07:32
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Not for nothing but fiberglass is also dangerous to in hale. I'm sure the fact that the installer is exposed to spray foam in liquid form for 40hrs a week for years also has alot to do with the PPE he uses.

How did the structure feel tamp wise after spray foam?

DaveBell
Moderator
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 09:26 - Edited by: DaveBell
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Silicone caulk. Carpet. Many things can out-gas chemicals you don't want to breath. A homeowner should educate themselves. In the case above, if the A and B component was not mixed correctly at the nozzle and/or if the wall board was installed before the curing period finished, it will be curing and out-gassing forever. The new contract language should be changed from "occupy" to no entry allowed for 24 hours. Moreover, contractors should test the air 24 hours after installation to certify the curing process has finished. A homeowner could also require an independent contractor air test in every space before dry wall is installed and final payment.

Myoldhomefallsapart
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 11:12
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Thanks you all for your reply. I am learning more each day.

Myoldhomefallsapart
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 11:14
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Ruralboy, yes, friendly enough.

You mentioned several well known types of insulations that gives off no toxic chemical fumes.

What would these be?

Myoldhomefallsapart
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 11:15
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Hi gcrank1, what would be the options that give no problem?

ruralboy
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 11:53
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Hemp, some demins (technically its cotton-textile but even then other some manufacturers likely add their own chemicals to it nevertheless), mineral wool insulation, and there probably was more accessible to find in North America but I can't recall them right now.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 11:57
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Most likely all of those becids possibly the fiberglass and mineral wool will have some type of fire retardant in them also.

Myoldhomefallsapart
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 13:29
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Hi Rural Boy, thanks. I assume that they are all more expensive than the regular insulation?

How about rodents and termites? Do they make their homes in these?

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 14:49
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I’ve seen the aftermath of rodent and raccoon nests in old cabins fiberglass insulation. The smell. The urine soaked wood so bad it had to be replaced. The mess. I’m quite sure someone here will be able to recommend insulation that rodents won’t chew through. I didn’t do research on that.
It was spray foam all the way.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 14:52
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Quoting: Brettny
How did the structure feel tamp wise after spray foam?

Hi Brettny.
I would like to answer your question. I don’t understand the question.

Brettny
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 15:13
Reply 


Does it hold temperature very well? And is it very air tight?

ruralboy
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 17:20
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I can't officially say anything about it as I haven't really looked into their reputation (nor hemp itself in general either) but this Canadian company claims to the high-eco/low-maintenance rating of hemp itself nevertheless
http://www.hemp-works.ca/hempcrete
(note where it especially said you can leave out the plastics aka vapour barriers, and that in-wall animals were not a problem)

Anyhow as for price well I mean if you are doing a suburban-sized bungalow then the final cost could likely be quite different. But for four short walls of a simple home (cabins or just about anything that would had fit into the 'small houses' category of Lloyd Kahn's catalog) the cost difference may not exactly be that big and it would be more of sourcing non-foam alternatives being the bigger problem.

Myoldhomefallsapart
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 18:30
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Thanks to you all for your replies. Have a nice weekend.

silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 6 Aug 2021 23:41 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
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Quoting: Brettny
Does it hold temperature very well? And is it very air tight?

Temperature, it’s cooler inside during the summer especially noticeable in the loft. We don’t need to turn the propane heat stove on until approximately the third week in October. Baking something during the day and the use of propane lights at night keep it comfortable temperature when it starts to cool off at night the end of September.
Not airtight because it’s a hand scribed log cabin.

Edited to include: I failed to mention spray foam adds strength to your structure. It also helps enormously with wind resistance on your roof.

We did not need a air test. We both decided 48 hours would be a good idea. There was no need to go in our cabin. We were staying in our travel trailer.
There was no odor at all.

The man we hired is the only person that does spray foam in our area. We had a lot of positive feedback regarding his work. It’s a close knit community. Trust was not a issue.

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