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Spray Foam in the Building Envelope

 The building envelope is a total system of construction materials and design components that control the temperature, movement of air, and moisture both into and out of the building. A building's insulation, air barrier and vaplemeted to extend the sustainable service life of buildings and homes.

Build it Tight, Ventilate Right.

Ventilating the Attic and the Crawl Spaces has long been the traditional and code required method of home design and building. However, ventilation of these spaces was required because standard materials and building design practices were not capable of addressing radiant heat transfer, condensation, and the results of “stack-effect issues.”

In order to address heat transfer form weather issues, utilities, and the formation of moisture due to condensation and air infiltration, the only option was to ventilate the attics and crawl spaces. The major problem with ventilating these spaces is that the air brings moisture, pollution and other adverse problems and challenges with it. Furthermore, the vents to allow it in create voids in the building for insects and rodents to enter, and all our nice conditioned air that escapes, or is pulled from the living spaces to exit.

In fact, in the summer, the incoming air needs power consuming fans to bring it in, and it will never get any cooler than the outside air temperature. Why would we want 95 degree hot, humid, potentially pollution ridden air into our attic and crawl space? In the winter this air is freezing cold. 

If our heating/cooling utilities and ducts are located in the attic and/or crawl spaces (most usually are) then their radiant contact with the ducts will cause them to lose up to 10% or more of the hot or cold air flowing through them due to radiant transfer. Worse yet, moisture and mold can also form within the ducts during certain temperature conditions, causing adverse health effects to the building occupants or your family.

Another major reason that traditional methods call for attic ventilation is that during the hot summer months, heat from the sun builds on the roof and radiates into the attic space. In fact, it can build to upwards of 130 to 150 degrees or more. (see our section on Urban Heat Islands). This extreme heat radiates into the attic and the living space causing condensation and the potential for mold. Our air conditioning systems also need to work harder and consume more energy with all this heat directly above our heads. The extreme heat also makes it very uncomfortable to enter these spaces. 

Most builders and design professionals are not familiar with modern materials and progressive building science techniques that can virtually eliminate all of these problems that force the traditional, less effective requirement for ventilation in these building spaces. 

Builders and design professionals will also make the argument that your home needs to breathe. Well, they are absolutely correct. But why rely on cracks, gaps and holes in your building for passive ventilation, when you can build your home tight, healthy and energy efficient, and let the mechanical ventilation systems due the job properly.

Spray foam insulation can still provide benefits far greater than traditional materials such as fiberglass and cellulose, regardless of whether you decide to ventilate these spaces or not. By using spray polyurethane foam insulation you can increase your home's energy performance, structural integrity and air quality.

For Spray Application

Spray Polyurethane Foam Application Helps Wine Tanks Maintain Optimal Temperatures

American Foam Experts applied closed-cell SPF to 98 wine tanks at a California vineyard. 
By Juan Sagarbarria

SACRAMENTO, CA– September 19, 2013 – A major concern for wine makers and operators is keeping their product cool inside their tanks after the fermentation process. With energy-consuming cooling systems, vineyard operators are usually having to deal with high power bills that can be easily lowered with robust insulation in place. Case in point: when a California wine maker decided to open his own vineyard, he opted to have SPF installed on the tanks he was constructing for wine storage.

The tanks' size ranged from 12 feet tall and 15 feet in diameter to 36 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter. According to AFE's Norm Bahr, the temperature inside the wine tanks will have to be consistently kept at as low as 28ºF, and the application of SPF insulation was the optimal product to guarantee such temperature consistency.

"SPF insulation is the best way to be able to keep the temperature ranges, as requested by their wine maker, inside the tanks," said Bahr. "By and large, it is the most readily effective method of insulating a tank because of its flexibility in dealing with the inlets and outlets of the tanks coupled by the R-value it provides."

After the SPF application, the crew applied 35-mil base coat of polyurea, followed by a top coat application of 16 dry mils of aliphatic coating on each tank to protect the foam.

Bahr affirmed that the SPF application will help the winery in producing the best wine possible while cutting energy cost.

"The wine makers are confident that insulation provided by SPF on their tanks enables them to closely monitor and control the fermentation process, which creates a lot of heat, in order to produce a better quality wine," said Bahr. "By insulating their tanks, they can substantially downsize the energy consumption of their cooling units and constantly provide the closest temperature to the ideal reactive temperature that the wine makers are looking for."

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Spray Foam Improves on Insulation

Foam keeps heat in by sealing cracks and spaces in your house.

From HGTV Remodel article:

An energy audit can discover lots of heat escaping through a home's attic and walls. However, a new approach to air sealing and insulation can make a big difference.

To build a better thermal envelope, we need to look at the second law of thermodynamics. This law states that heat flows in one direction, from a warm space to a cold one. For example, warm air inside a home will flow to the cooler air outside during winter months. Fiberglass batt insulation helps prevent this from happening, but there's a better method for preventing heat loss — one that is easy to install and is within your budget.

The best practice for insulating is to use spray foam insulation to fill the spaces between the framing studs in the walls and attic. Spray foam insulation is nontoxic and typically has a lifetime guarantee. It expands to about 100 times its original volume, so it fills in air gaps unlike standard fiberglass insulation. Over time, as the house expands and contracts, so will the foam insulation. This eliminates cracks and spaces for warm air to escape.

If you're insulating a small part of a wall or several small spaces, you're probably better off buying your own tanks of spray foam from a local contractor. However, for areas larger than 200 square feet, such as an attic, you should consider hiring a professional. It's cheaper for you, and they'll have the equipment for such a large-scale job.

For more information go to here.