What to Expect?
If you will be having spray polyurethane foam (SPF) installed by a professional, you should be well informed about the kind or kinds of SPF that a contractor may use in your home. Here are a few considerations when working with a professional contractor to have spray foam insulation installed in your home.
For more detailed information on potential worker exposure to SPF chemicals and to characterize potential SPF emissions that a home owner may encounter, please see the High Pressure SPF Insulation in New Home Construction and Retrofit Applications: Worker and Homeowner Health and Safety Information.
Your Role: Learn, Choose & Understand
Learn about the products
A great way to start learning about the product or products selected for installation in your home is to ask your contractor a lot of questions. Start by asking for an explanation of the different types of products available, and their performance characteristics. Importantly, an informed contractor can discuss the specific chemical constituents of the material that will be mixed and reacted to make foam, and will have access to all the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for the product available during the job. If you have any questions about the chemicals that will be mixed and reacted to make the finished foam product, or what to expect during and after the installation, you can ask your contractor to review the SDS with you. The product label and literature from the manufacturer can also be valuable information sources for you.
Choose your contractor carefully
As with any professional you would hire for work in your home, a few things you might want to look for in a professional contractor or weatherization contractor include:
- Appropriate training or certification in SPF installation
- A good reputation and references
He/she should be able to advise you on the following:
- Where to install SPF insulation in your home (and what type)
- What to expect throughout each stage of the installation
- Safety precautions and technical specifications for the products being installed
- The need to leave your home during installation and an appropriate time after
As an added service, your contractor may also offer guidance on how to take advantage of local and federal utility rebates or tax credits.
Understand reoccupancy guidelines
The home should not be occupied during installation. Before the job, consult with your contractor for guidance about the period of time before people and animals may return to your home following two component foam installation. This is the reoccupancy time.
Reoccupancy time is dependent on a number of factors, including SPF formulation, the amount of foam applied per volume of space, temperature, humidity, the rate of ventilation, and other variables. Evaluation reports for many types of building products, including SPF insulation, often include the suggested reoccupancy time, which is variable: for an interior application using two component high pressure SPF, some manufacturers recommend 24 hours before reoccupancy, and for an interior two component, low-pressure SPF kit application, some manufacturers recommend a one-hour reoccupancy time. Ask your SPF contractor about reoccupancy guidance appropriate for your specific SPF installation to minimize potential risk.
If you live in an apartment complex or work in a commercial building where two component SPF insulation is being installed, consult with the building manager and/or SPF contractor regarding measures to keep building occupants from potential exposure while the foam is being installed. Consult with the building manager and/or SPF contractor to ensure appropriate site controls are in place.
Your contractor’s role and responsibilities
Safe and effective installation
Your contractor can review with you details about the entire project, from start to finish, including safety measures he/she will take on the job. Part of this review may include items such as:
- Taking steps to minimize overspray and to control dust (protecting exposed surfaces from SPF overspray by covering them and/or masking them off)
- Isolating and marking off the work area
- Addressing ventilation of an interior application, such as opening windows and/or setting up fans
- Extinguishing all sources of ignition in the spray area, adjacent rooms and behind neighboring walls, including pilot lights to gas stoves, dryers, furnaces and water heaters
- Clearing the area of children, pets and other workers/adults without protective gear until the home can be safely reoccupied
During spraying, expect the contractor to:
- Limit site access only to workers using the proper protective gear, including eye protection, gloves, full-coverage clothing and appropriate respiratory protection
- Take appropriate precautions to avoid high heat or flame near the application site, including having all workers avoid smoking on the job site
To finish the job, the contractor:
- Is responsible for cleaning the work site thoroughly so unprotected workers or occupants can safely occupy the building
Proper storage, handling and disposal practices
Your contractor must be well informed and conscientious of acceptable workplace practices regarding safe storage, handling and disposal of empty or partially used SPF product containers (i.e., 55-gallon drums). The contractor must not leave any chemical containers or drums with the homeowner at the conclusion of the project. SPF chemical containers (i.e., drums) must not be used for any other purpose other than chemical storage. Once empty, the contractor typically arranges for the drums to be recycled by a professional firm authorized to handle such containers.