It’s increasingly common for builders to install rigid foam on exterior walls and roofs. And among green builders, polyisocyanurate foam — a type of foam that often comes with foil facing — is generally perceived as the most environmentally friendly foam available.
The popularity of foil-faced building products raises an interesting question: If you install foil-faced foam or a radiant barrier on your walls or roof, will the foil interfere with cell phone reception in your house? In hopes of pinning down some answers, I recently posed the question to several experts and building material suppliers.
The answers I received were inconsistent. Representing one end of the spectrum was an unidentified spokesperson for cell phone provider T-Mobile. The spokesperson was quoted by Lauren Koszarek, an employee of Waggener Edstrom Public Relations; according to Koszarek, it is T-Mobile’s position that foil-faced building products “can sometimes act as reflectors to signals or can block signals so that they do not penetrate into the structure.”
Representing the other end of the spectrum is Mary Edmondson, the executive director of the Reflective Insulation Manufacturers Association (RIMA), who said, “There have been no studies that indicate there is any interference with cell phone usage where a radiant barrier is present. In other words, no, reflective products do not affect cell phone reception inside a house or structure where both are present.”
To begin our investigation of this issue, let’s look at some complaints about cell-phone problems attributed to foil-faced building products.
I recently received an e-mail from Don Johnson of Nassau Bay, Texas, whose complaint is typical of the genre. “I had a new roof installed a couple of years ago and the installer asked if I wanted a radiant barrier on the foam insulation,” Johnson wrote. “I thought that it would…
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