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Spray foam insulation help: one-year-old sleeps in room

user-7561312 | Posted in General Questions on

We recently moved into a house that was built in 2012. The attic has spray foam throughout, only in the roof rafters and rafters around the outside walls of the house. There is one room upstairs that is surrounded by the attic. The walls of that room are not insulated with anything. Our 1 year old sleeps in that room, and when we moved in, I noticed his room has a certain smell. It’s hard to describe the smell. Originally I thought it was a pee smell, but it’s definitely not. Another concern with the room is that there are NO windows in the room. So there is no ventilation at all except a high powered fan.

Removing all of the insulation is not really an option as it is very expensive. Would an exhaust fan built in to the attic to get rid of the trapped air be helpful? I believe it gets rids of 180 cubic feet of air per minute. Or do you suggest the baby not being in the room even after the exhaust is installed?  I’m concerned that him sleeping up there will effect his current and long-term health. We live in South Georgia and it can get quite hot down here in the summer months. I think the smell is noticeable when it is very hot outside. How concerned should I be that our baby sleeps in that room? Once the smell is remediated with removing the bad air, if we install a purifier, would you feel comfortable if it was your child? We have moved his crib to our closet, but obviously I don’t want that to be a permanent solution. 

Thank you.

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  1. JC72 | | #1

    IIRC...a bedroom with out a window is a code violation. I would not place a child in that room.

    The smell is a characteristic of spray foam and may indicate an install issue which would require deeper investigation.

  2. user-2310254 | | #2

    It is possible that the foam was not installed correctly. If you search this site, you will find several threads on foam-related smell.

    If the foam was not installed correctly, the seller should have disclosed that fact. I am assuming they did not.

    Do you have an active ventilation system? Tight homes need some amount of air exchange.

    On the room itself, it sounds like it was intended for storage. Not sleeping.

    1. user-7561312 | | #4

      There is a bathroom attached to the bedroom. The previous owners had their teenage son in the same room. There was no disclosure on improper installation.

      There is not an active ventilation system.

  3. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #3

    Properly cured spray foam should not smell after a week or two. A strong smell may indicate an issue with the application. If you have a vented attic, any residual offgassing shouldn’t be a problem since it can escape to the outdoors, but it sounds like you have a conditioned attic with the spray foam on the underside of the roof between the rafters?

    I agree with the others, a room without any ventilation isn’t a good place for anyone to spend significant amounts of time. Stagnant air is a bad thing regardless of how the space is insulated.


    1. MAinspector | | #5

      A sleeping room without a window could be a violation of multiple codes, the most important being R310.1. Emergency escape and rescue openings required. If there was ever a fire blocking the stairway to that bedroom, how would the person in the room get out and how would you or a firefighter get to that person?

      I have a one year old and she would not be sleeping in that room for this reason, and for the potential offgassing spray foam reason.

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