I'm in the process of redoing my basement and read through the posts. I took out one inch styrofoam covered by 1/4 " beadboard and installed 2X4s and plan on putting in fiberglass batts between them(r-13) with 1/2 in drywall over top of that. Do you think I will see a significat increase in heat control? Should I have done more?... it's a little after the fact, but still curious to know if I will see a big difference based on your experience.


Polyurethane Spray Foam Insulation is used in industries ranging from mining to movies, from cold storage to marine flotation. Spray Foam Insulation’s ability to seal out air and insulate quickly means it’s always in high demand for residential and commercial applications. Spray Foam Insulation is critical for solving our nation’s energy challenges because it dramatically reduces the energy needed to heat and cool our homes and offices. http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ggLAUsiuI_o
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You probably have some familiarity with spray foam insulation, and you may have even used the foam that comes in pressured spray cans at home improvement retailers. This foam is know as one-part foam, meaning that it is one continuous mixture that is simply applied to the area in need. One-part foam is frequently used for sealing small gaps and cracks.

OK, Peter, I finally went back and read Alex Wilson's article on what he perceives as a serious problem. I haven't seen the full report, but based on the summary he wrote on the Green Building Advisor website, I question the science. It seems to me that he's chosen the wrong metric and he's basing his conclusion on too many assumptions because he doesn't have enough data. You can see my comments at the end of his article.

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Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true.

This is more common with closed cell foam, but it happens with open cell foam, too. Since closed cell foam has a higher R-value per inch, installers generally spray 2" in walls and 3" in rooflines to meet the energy code requirements of R-13 and R-19, respectively. (I'm not going to dive into the energy code here, but these numbers apply to many climate zones, the latter being allowed under the UA tradeoffs rule. See the Energy Nerd's blog on this topic if you want to argue.) http://youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata&v=ggLAUsiuI_o
Closed-cell (aka two-pound foam) is denser than open-cell at about 2 pounds per cubic foot. Its R-Value is between 6-6.5 per inch. As a result, this kind of foam is much more expensive than its counterpart. The reason closed-cell doesn't need a vapor retarder is because it already has one. It's permeance is 0.8 perm, which means it can handle cold climates without the use of an additional board or drywall. Closed-cell uses hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) as part of its makeup. However, this material has been known to have a high global warming effect. If you want a green insulation solution, this is not the material to use. A way to avoid this and still use closed-cell is by installing it alongside fiberglass batts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=youtube_gdata
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The United States has adapted to using sprayfoam insulation and a new technology called Wall Injection to retrofit existing wall construction by drilling small holes between wall studs in the structures framing and filling the void with a less aggressive expanding water based foam. This allows existing home and business owners to conserve energy by creating a thermal envelope in their existing structure. http://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=share
Steve: If your spray foam installer leaves the vents open, he will be committing the 2nd of the 4 problems I described above. You will most likely have comfort and efficiency problems. You may well have condensation problems. You will be spending a lot of money on a product that likely won't perform as it should. Don't let him leave the vents open. If the installer you've chosen doesn't understand this, you may want to choose someone else. 
The insulation at eaves level will leave your loft area comfortable for use and free from condensation. By installing the insulation at rafter level, it keeps the loft void warmer and prevents condensation build-up, which can otherwise occur when increasing insulation at ceiling level. The warmer, drier, cleaner roof space eliminates the risk of pipes and tanks freezing.
RE: my June 12 post...We went ahead and had the attic sprayed with a Soy-based product. Stayed in a hotel for 3 nites. Still smelled a little bad but that's gone away over time. I'm very glad we didn't use the other foam as even that much outgassing of a petrochemical could have sent my wife to the hospital. Unfortunately, the spray crew didn't speak English(at least not to me) and were kinda lazy, so they ended up spraying over some can fixtures from the kitchen below that were not insulation-contact rated. So I hired an electrician to come out, pull down the cans, pull out what he thought was an appropriate amount of foam to create a big enough air space and then re-install the cans. I billed the firm for the electrician plus an extra night we had to stay in the hotel and they paid, no questions asked. Guess they knew they had screwed up.  

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Thank you, Allison. We have a split system unit (actually 5) with the heat being propane. The foam guy said that it needed ventilation, so completely sealing the attic wouldn't be a good idea. It sounds like you are saying that the systems need to be vented out of the attic or replaced with some type of closed system. But I shouldn't bother spraying if the plan is to leave the soffet vents open. Is that correct?
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The insulation at eaves level will leave your loft area comfortable for use and free from condensation. By installing the insulation at rafter level, it keeps the loft void warmer and prevents condensation build-up, which can otherwise occur when increasing insulation at ceiling level. The warmer, drier, cleaner roof space eliminates the risk of pipes and tanks freezing. http://m.youtube.com/e/ggLAUsiuI_o
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