Spray Foam And Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has become a very important topic in recent years, particularly as buildings have become tighter as a result of air-sealing and energy efficiency measures employed by the construction, building science, architectural, efficiency, code and sustainability communities. One of the reasons SPF has become such a popular solution is because of the high-performing combined features of high R-Value and air-sealing. Both of these features are in high demand by customers and driven by building and energy codes. Interestingly these features apply to both roofing (the forgotten fifth wall) and insulation.
Using SPF to seal and insulate a building from air-leakage, a common problem lesser products struggle to solve, means a noticeable, more comfortable and consistent indoor environment for the occupants. It also means that outdoor pollutants and allergens infiltrating the home can be reduced, possibly improving conditions for allergy sufferers.
Although these improvements to the building likely mean a more efficient operation for heating and cooling systems, allowing the owner to “right size the mechanicals” and further improve the building’s efficiency, it also means that mechanical ventilation becomes more important. Keeping pollutants, cold/hot/humid air, and allergens outside means that the conditioned space (interior) of the building needs good, consistent, mechanically-produced air-flow to avoid the possibility of unexpected odors from people, carpeting, furniture, or other building products being trapped inside. To realize the best performance, occupant comfort, and satisfaction look at these combined elements as a system, and make sure that the building’s HVAC is providing regular, adequate and consistent ventilation.
It is essential that any combustible gas appliances, such as water heaters, furnaces, etc. are properly vented to the outside of the building. This is the case with any structure for the safety of occupants, but particularly in the case of a highly insulated and air-sealed building, to avoid the build-up of Carbon Monoxide (CO) fumes. For the additional safety of occupants in any building, especially residential, SPFA recommends using at a minimum a plug-in CO detector in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use of the CO detector, along with other fire alarm, security or building safety systems should be among the suite of common practices by all building owners.
Always use a professional, experienced and trained SPF contractor and consider consulting with a BPI Analyst, RESNET Hers-Rater, or other energy and environmental professional when making decisions that can result in substantial changes to your building’s operation and performance.