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DIY two-component spray foam kits can produce smelly foam

Martin Holladay | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

Those who have been following the stories about smelly spray foam may be interested in reading an interesting post on the Up Hill House blog maintained by Larry Burks and Jill Burks of Cambridge, N.Y.

In their latest post, “Friend or Foam,” they write about problems encountered with a DIY two-component spray foam kit they used to insulate their rim joist.

Here’s an excerpt of the blog: “The foam did not appear to be expanding as usual or curing properly. It looked a little more yellow than white and felt rubbery when poked. By the time we realized something was not right, we had sprayed some 40 linear feet of band joist area in the basement. We’re still not sure what caused the problem. Was it a bum kit or bad hose and gun? We had followed all the same precautions as before, but we had very different results. At first the manufacturer told us to just let it air out, it would cure on its own, it just might take longer than usual. So we vented and waited a month. All we had was a sticky smelly mess.”

You can read the full story at their site: http://uphillhouse.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/friend-or-foam/

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Replies

  1. Keith Gustafson | | #1

    It is interesting, I used several of these kits in my renovation, and had issues because we were working in the winter, and they don't like the cold. I had one particular day a line clogged or one tank ran out[ they are obviously different viscosities, and the lighter colored side always runs out first] Never a real odor. Had to squeegie the stuff out of the one small cavity but it didn't stink.
    I think I even used one of the brand they showed using. but mostly 'Handi Foam'

    I wonder if the formulations are that different. Maybe I didn't have enough 'bad' to notice

  2. TJ Elder | | #2

    The Up Hill House blog is quite good. These people are really trying to make good choices. Here's another reflection about their experience using foam:

    "If we had hired a professional crew to come in and spray all the areas and I wasn’t there myself watching the process, I might think this was the best stuff in the world. But having gone through the process of doing it ourselves, I would absolutely not use this much foam again. I’m so glad we decided against the ‘flash and batt’ approach. This stuff is nasty, and we can’t even recycle the containers. The instructions that come with the containers didn’t even mention using air breathing masks. We had to call the company to get a recommendation on the right type of mask to use. Get one that blocks organic compounds and make sure you have plenty of fresh air while working."

    "I knew the foam was not a green product, but I was willing to trade the hazards for the long term benefits of a more air-tight, super insulated envelope. Now I’ve changed my mind. A little foam in strategic spots is fine. But if I design another home like this I would go out of my way to find other solutions."

    http://uphillhouse.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/foam-continued/

  3. Larry Burks | | #3

    Thanks Martin. It was your post on smelly foam that convinced us to remove as much of the bad foam as we could. One thing I didn't mention in our post, after we encountered the bad foam, we called a few foam installers in the Albany area that were recommended by the foam manufacturer. They all had experienced bad foam problems. They said it was rare, but it does happen. None wanted to approach our house because there was already a problem. Something to think about for the DIY crowd. You may not be able to find anyone else willing to come in and clean up the mess.

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