Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Does Spray Foam Work?

How Is Spray Foam Insulation Made?

This is a very popular question that most homeowners and business owners alike have when the initial thought of using spray foam insulation in the Myrtle Beach, SC area come to mind as a Energy Saving Alternative.  What I intend to do in this post is educate everyone a little bit on how Spray Foam Insulation Works, and why it saves not only Myrtle Beach, SC residents money on energy, but all over the Coast of NC, SC, and GA.  You'll hear me talk a lot about these areas as these are the main areas I worked when I was in the Spray Foam Insulation business.  So Lets Explain a little bit about how spray foam insulation is made.

Spray Foam insulation is made by combining 2 chemicals, pushed together with air, which react to form the foam:
  1. Part A: A Isocyanate or Isocyonine Product
  2. Part B: A Poly Based Resin, usually specifically designed for the part A Chemical.
  3. Air: One of the most important parts of the spray foam process.
  4. Heat: Heated by two powerful heaters on the proportioning unit, in hot climates like Myrtle Beach, SC the heaters may actually cool the chemicals in extreme heat conditions, without the proper heat requirements, you will not get good foam.
With the two chemicals pumped into the proportioning unit, they are heated up to the proper temperature to achieve proper spray foam insulation, once heated they are pushed thru 2 seperated hoses wrapped with a heater cord into the spray foam gun.  The gun is powered by an air line which forces the chemicals into the gun's mixing chamber, where they begin the chemical reaction which makes spray foam.  The process happens so fast that the two chemicals are pushed out mixed in almost a paint like looking substances.  Within 10 seconds on Open Cell Foam the paste or paint like substance will expand 100 times of itself within this 10 second time lapse.  Closed Cell foam will expand, but not as much, and generally takes 30-40 seconds to expand to full width, Closed Cell Foam is generally applied in two layers to meet the building code requirements for spray foam insulation in Myrtle Beach, SC and Coastal NC and SC areas. This expansion is a part of what makes spray foam insulation work so well at saving energy, as this creates the best seal you can get when it comes to insulation.

How Do Spray Foam Contractors Make This Work?

Spray Foam Insulation Contractors have specialized equipment, and when I mean specialize, only one equipment maker on the market, and only there parts fit them on repairs.  This is a huge investment for a spray foam insulation contractor, so you can tell a good one by the cleanlinest and respect they treat their equipment rig.  Plus all chemicals MUST be heated to at least 120-150 degrees for Open Cell, and I recommend 100-120 degrees for closed cell, however, closed cell foam is very tricky, and you should only use a contractor that has references for closed cell application.  Spray Foam Equipment Rigs cost a lot of money, with a fully stocked rig running $80,000 on the low end, to an avg. cost of $120,000.  Below is a general list of what a good spray foam rig should have on it:
  • Industrial Size Generator - The backbone of the rig, without it nothing else works.  Should produce enough electricity to power the other equipment and then some.
  • Proper Proportioning Unit - A proportionate unit that is specifically designed for proportioning the Part A and Part B chemicals.  This is crucial as well, it doesn't have to be new, as so much as well maintained and able to handle the air pressure and heat requirements the chemicals demand to create proper spray foam insulation.
  • Well Maintained Hoses - the chemicals stay seperated, being pumped thru two seperate hoses, wrapped with a heater cord.  These are the only hoses that are made for spray foam insulation now, if you see anything different, your contractor is way out of date..
  • Hose "Whip" - Sometimes you will see spray foam contractors that use a "whip" on the end of there hoses before going into the gun.  A "whip" is made of the same material as the hose, but can give the chemicals a last boost of heat, to help insure proper foam.  These are generally seen more in colder weather conditions
  • Spray Foam Guns - Most serious spray foam contractors have more than one spray foam gun because the chemicals react soon as they touch, and tend to "cross-over" easily in extreme weather, so to keep the production going, they have a back-up ready to go.  Some even have more than 2 guns.  Graco models are the top of the line, however there is another maker of a spray foam gun, but not favorably liked by spray foam installers.  The Graco Fusion is personally the best gun I have seen on the market, however their Probler 2 is a popular gun as well.
  • PPE or Personal Protection Equipment: A good spray foam contractor puts Safety number one, Sprayers should wear a protective suit, heavy duty gloves, and a forced air mask or respirator designed specifically for spray foam.  Helpers should have a respirator, goggles, and nitrile or heavy duty gloves when handling chemicals or entering into the construction area when spray foam insulation is installed.  As said before, Part A and Part B react immediately upon touching, this can also happen in your lungs, so Safety is a Must when in comes to spray foam insulation in the Myrtle Beach, SC, NC and SC areas, or any other part of the country. 
  • Ladders, Scaffolding, aerial equipment, etc. - Spray foam contractors generally carry any type of necessary equipment to get to hard to reach places. 
  • Masking Material - Some spray foam insulation contractors seperate their crew into teams, and have a prep team ahead of the sprayers.  But there should always be plastic and tape on the spray foam rig because good spray foam insulation contractors care about their customers personal belongings, merchandise, and homes.
  • Gun Cleaning Tools - Specialized Tools designed to clean the spray foam guns.
  • Fuel - A good spray foam contractor will keep spare fuel on site to make sure generator never runs out of fuel.
  • Trailer or Box Truck - Last but not least, you can tell a true professional spray foam contractor by there truck or trailer, if they come in with the generator, and proportioning unit and materials all on seperate trucks, you might wanna find another spray foam contractor.
Many Spray Foam Contractors have all kinds of other ends and outs on their rigs, but this is a general list of must have things.  If anything from the list is missing, you might wanna consider a new spray foam contractor.   I hope this has been an informative blog post on How Spray Foam Insulation is actually made, and feel free to post any questions to my comments.  As you can see from all the specialized equipment, it cost a lot for a spray foam contractor to stay in business.  This is also what makes spray foam insulation a little more costly than traditional fiberglass or blown insulation, however a good contractor can keep cost low and offer you a competitive price at installing spray foam insulation in your home.  The Part A and Part B chemicals are also very costly, however this is the portion of the install that you can use for tax credits or deductions for using energy saving products.  The good news is a lot more chemical manufacturers are making these chemicals used to make spray foam insulation, so the cost have steadily been on the down swing, making it more affordable, and definitely paying for itself in 3-5 years generally.  If you would like more information on spray foam insulation in Myrtle Beach, SC or SC and NC in general, then give Dan a call at: 706-951-0158

Banner 468x60 Static