Floor Insulation in Iowa

Floor InsulationDept. of Energy recommends floor insulation

Floor insulation in your Iowa home can help keep your Iowa home more comfortable and also reduce your energy costs. Most people underestimate the importance of floor insulation. It can keep your entire home more energy efficient and keep your energy costs down. Approximately 25% of heat is lost if your floors are not insulated. The Department of Energy
recommends floor insulation to save on energy costs.

Floor Insulation Solutions in Iowa

Iowa Spray Foam Insulators, LLC uses spray foam insulation for floor insulation in Iowa. We use the best products available for floor insulation. These products include Sealection500 and Heatlok Soy 200.

The Sealection500 is an open cell spray foam that will not sag settle, deteriorate or Floor insulation in Iowadecompose. The Heatlok Soy200 is a closed cell spray foam insulation. The difference between open cell and closed cell is the closed cells are filled with a gas that makes the foam rise and expand. Open cell spray foam is a semi-rigid 1/2 pound per cubic feet spray foam that is low density.

Foam spray insulation for your floors in Iowa will create an effective thermal barrier. It will provide a resistance of moisture penetration and will give your home long-term R-values that are superior to other types of insulation for your floors. Other benefits of floor insulation in Iowa are:

  • Quieter home
  • Saves energy costs
  • Increases home comfort
  • Reduces risk of moisture damage
  • Helps guard against pipe freezing

Contact Iowa Spray Foam Insulators, LLC for all of your floor insulation needs in Iowa.

 

 

 

Why Choose Spray Foam Insulation for Iowa Winters

Spray Foam Insulation for Iowa Winters

We know that winters around the Carroll, IA area can be very harsh For this reason, it is important that you make sure your home is well insulated. This can help to keep you and your family warm even on the coldest days this winter. While traditional methods of insulation, such as fiberglass, may not be enough to properly insulate your home and withstand several years of cold and harsh storms, the spray foam insulation from Iowa Spray Foam Insulators, LLC. can keep your home warm for years to come.

Besides being more effective than the traditional fiberglass insulation used in most homes, spray foam insulation can be more convenient to install and can be fitted to every room and area in your home. Here are a few of the different applications that you can use spray foam insulation for in Iowa homes:

These are just a few of the areas that can benefit from spray foam insulation services. Keep the cold air out of your home this winter with spray foam insulation from Iowa Spray Foam Insulators, LLC.

Why Choose Spray Foam Insulation for Your Iowa Home This Winter

Spray Foam Insulation Iowa WintersSpray foam easily fills all of the gaps and spaces behind your walls, underneath your floor, and above your ceiling, This leaves an insulating barrier between the cold outdoors and you and your family within the home. As it is sprayed, closed cell spray foam expands to 30-40 times itself, meaning that a small amount can fill large areas in a short time period. Open cell spray foam expands even more, up to 120 times itself in just a few seconds. This quick expansion makes it simple and fast for our experts to install spray foam insulation in your home.

Fiberglass and other insulation materials may let some air through, but both open and closed cell spray foam completely block outdoor air from entering, making them a great sound barrier as well as an insulator. Certain kinds of closed cell spray foam can even help to seal moisture out of your home, keeping you and your family dry and warm all winter long, no matter what the weather is like outside. Other kinds of spray foam, open cell spray foams, allow water to pass through and make it easier to tell when you have a leak in your home that needs repaired. Because the spray foam insulation does not soak up the water, it is less likely to develop mold issues.

Contact our team today to find out which type of spray foam insulation is the best choice for protecting your Iowa home from the bitter cold this winter.

Documented Payback: Spray Foam Insulation

Documented Payback: Spray Foam Insulation

One of the most popular questions we get from prospective customers is “when can we expect a payback from spray foam insulation?” The answer? Well that can vary greatly depending on multiple things. So I thought I would try to answer that question with an independent source study.

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In 2009 as part of the US DOE Building American Program, the Florida Solar Energy Center, CPS Energy, and Woodside Homes built three homes. They all had the same floor plan and size. These three homes had different types of insulation (blown fiberglass and spray foam) and used different HVAC systems in the upgraded homes. The idea was to see if the upgraded homes would really save energy. What they found was what we expected and what we see on almost every job we do. The spray foam insulated homes simply outperformed the “build to code” homes.

In fact, the improved homes (those with spray foam insulation and upgraded HVAC systems) saved anywhere form 55-77% in energy on average. This was tested in July of 2009 and continued until it ended in April of 2011. I would say that’s impressive!

There are a couple of things I would like to point out here. First, on the improved homes they used open cell spray foam in a conditioned attic assembly. In southern climates, this is key to keeping energy costs low. However, conditioned attics work in most climates.

Second, HERs ratings on these homes ranged from 86 on the controlled home to 54 and 37 on the improved homes. I think this gives the HERs rating system validation. It is a really good predictor of how to analyze the home before and after it is built and the amount of energy being used.

The third thing that needs pointing out is the amount of air changes per hour, or ACH50. On the control home built to standard code, it had 5.84 ACH50 versus the improved home with open cell spray foam insulation only had 1.95 ACH50. Basically, the spray foam home was over 66% tighter home. Meaning it leaks a third of the air that a blown fiberglass insulated home does. Now, from previous blogs we have learned that air leakage is important.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the control home had R-30 blown fiberglass installed in the attic. The improved home had open cell spray foam installed at R-28. Just as we have said before, R values do not indicate actual performance (see this blog for further explanation).

So what we have learned is investing in upgraded insulation (even with a lower R value) and building a tighter home equals a quick payback. Keep in mind these are not our findings, but rather that of several independent organization’s findings. Invest in your building with spray foam insulation. Give us a call.

How To: Marketing Spray Foam Insulation for Builders

How To: Marketing Spray Foam Insulation for Builders

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Sometimes I think that over the last ten years I’ve been in the business of spray foam insulation that everyone has at least heard of spray foam insulation. It’s hard for me to believe that there are quite a few people who have never heard of spray foam insulation. It still amazes me when I walk into a model home in a subdivision that a builder or realtor never mention anything about energy efficiency of the home or what the utilities will cost to run on a monthly basis.

This video is a great example of how realtors and builders simply miss the boat when it comes to energy efficient upgrades:

So why is this? My guess is that most builders focus way too much on profit and not enough on building a quality home. Most builders think spray foam insulation is an expensive upgrade to a home. But what consumers have figured out is that spray foam is a no-brainer investment that pays out big (take a look at a previous blog that explains the life-cycle cost of spray foam insulation).

What builders are really missing out on is offering an upgraded package that could add profits to a new home that still offers real value to the consumer. I have written many blogs over the years on the value of spray foam insulation. So in this blog I am going to give the builders a few pointers on how to market spray foam insulation to consumers.

Marketing Tips for Builders:

Spray foam insulation offers more comfortable homes. The real key to selling spray foam is to realize that it has nothing to do with the cost savings of the product. Yes, it does pay back on the return investment. But the real advantage or benefit to the home owner is the comfortable home. No more cold rooms or drafty homes. It takes different sales skills to sell a product that is hidden behind the walls. Much of this work has already been presented to the consumer from just about every Saturday morning home improvement show known to man. The consumer sees these shows using spray foam insulation on almost every project. If you doubt me, turn on one this weekend and watch.

While I could go into great detail on how we market to the consumer, I won’t (I’d like to not educate my competitors – I know  they watch my blogs on a regular basis).

But what I will do is offer our services. If you – as a builder or realtor – are interested in offering spray foam insulation, give us a call. We have a very detailed sales process that we are more than willing to offer builders. We will set down and train you and your sales staff on how to sell spray foam insulation.

Roof Coatings DFT: Mil Thickness

Roof Coatings DFT: Mil Thickness

There are a ton of different types of roof coatings out on the market. The basic key to most of these roof coatings is the Dry Mil Thickness (DFT). Mil is a reference to thousandth of an inch thickness. One mil is one thousandth of an inch thick. To give you perspective, standard copy paper is about 8 mils thick. A standard credit card is anywhere form 20-30 mils thick.

DFT Guidelines

All manufacturers have guidelines on how thick their coating should be applied. Most often they are given in DFT. How they reach that thickness can vary greatly depending on how they are applied and the percentage of solids the particular material is. As a customer what you really want to know is what the DFT will be. This will give you a good idea as to how you should compare roof coating quotes between companies bidding on your project.

Quotes should include how thick the contractor is applying the coating and to what manufacturers specifications they are following. Our quotes state that we are installing the roof to the manufacture’s 10 year specifications. For instance, Gaco Western’s silicon roof coating is applied at 1.5 gallons of silicon roof coating per 100 square foot, which is approximately 22 DFT.  There are many other aspects that also matter when it comes to roof coating thickness.

Percentage of Solids by Volume

Roof coat thickness is only one aspect of roof coatings. The percentage of solids by volume or weight are also an important aspect. This means that if a coating has a 50% solids by volume, when you apply one gallon of coating about half of the coating cures off (leaving only half the material you applied). As an example again, Gaco Western’s silicon roof coating is 95% solids. 95% of the roof coating will still be there once it dries.

Fun fact: all liquids applied at one gallon per 100 square foot have a wet millage of 16 mils.

It is also important to consider how thick the coating can be applied in a single pass. Most acrylic roof coatings need to be applied in several passes. If you apply them too thick in a pass they will mud crack, leaving big cracks in the coating. Since polyurea roof coatings dry very quickly they can be applied in very thick passes, over 40-60 DFT.

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How is your contractor going to check and prove that he is applying the proper thickness? Using a wet mil gauge is the most common way, but you can also use a coating thickness gauge.

When it comes to roof coatings, don’t let someone sell you a quick paint job when you really need a roof coating. Call us today!

The Dangers of Spray Foam: From a Spray Foam Contractor

The Dangers of Spray Foam: From a Spray Foam Contractor

So this may not seem like a typical blog – when an industry professional writes a blog about how their product can cause issues. But I think it’s time to clear the air (pun intended) regarding the dangers of spray foam.

You don’t need to go far in a Google search to find a whole host of websites, YouTube videos, and newspaper articles regarding the dangers of spray foam insulation. Being an industry professional with almost 10 years of experience, I would be the first to tell you that there can be and will be problems with spray foam insulation when installed incorrectly. All it takes is one bad apple out of hundreds of thousands of good installations to give an industry a black eye. So I thought I would go over what they are and how to prevent them from causing problems.

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Spray Foam Problems

Fishy smell – The majority of the time when spray foam results in a fishy smell results from one of two things: improper mixing or their ratio is off. Spray foam is designed to be installed with the two parts at a one-to-one ratio. When this doesn’t happen, the foam never cures out to the proper end product. The second option comes from installing closed cell spray foam in too thick of passes which in turn may not let the foam cure properly. Most manufacturers will tell you to never install closed cell spray foam in lifts or passes more than two or three inches thick.

Charring or catching fire – As we just mentioned, closed cell spray foam needs to be installed in controlled lifts. Since closed cell spray foam creates an exothermic reaction when it is processed, this creates heat and if installed too thick can potentially create a fire hazard.

Respiratory issues – When spray foam insulation is installed, the applicators and helpers are required to wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Once the product has been installed correctly and allowed to off-gas properly, spray foam insulation is a very safe product. While spray foam is as safe as the things that you come in contact with on a daily basis, you don’t want to be breathing it in while it is being installed. Now with that being said, some people who are hypersensitive to chemicals in general or who have asthma and related respiratory problems; while I would like to sell product to everyone, these people may want to look to other insulation options. I look at it like this: those without peanut allergies don’t worry about being in contact with peanuts. But for the population that is allergic should we stop growing and using peanuts? No, we simply need to take the proper precautions.

How Do We Prevent The Problems From Occurring?

This is the really easy part, do your homework: hire a certified, properly trained, and reputable contractor. That sounds easy, so how do you know if they are certified and reputable? Start with asking if they are SPFA certified. Next, find out what manufacturer they are buying their product from and check to see if they have completed the manufacturer’s training program. Not all manufactures have training programs and will sell product to just anyone. Spray foam insulation is not a “do it yourself” project nor should it be done by just anyone. We are manufacturing foam plastic insulation on the jobsite. This takes proper training, equipment, and skill.

 

However the easiest way to prevent all this is just to call us.

 

Air Barriers: Getting it Right

Air Barriers: Getting it Right

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There has been a lot of information over the years regarding air and vapor barriers. The information over these barriers has evolved quite a bit. I recently came across this article from Buildingscience.com covering a few of them and I thought I would add a few things to this thought process.

Joseph Lstiburek usually does a great job of breaking down technical engineer jargon, but I thought I would go a step or two farther and highlight what I think are some of the most important parts of this article. At the basic level this article talks about two different things: air barriers and vapor barriers.

Air Barriers

Air barriers are important because most insulations are fibrous (meaning they allow air to move through them), thus we need to add some kind of air barrier to stop the air flow. Think of it this way: during the winter you put on a nice wool coat and if you go outside it will keep you warm. But if a gust of wind sweeps by the air will pass through the wool coat and make you cold. The same idea is transferred to fiberglass insulation and cellulose insulation. This is why they need an air barrier to help them work properly.

Vapor Barriers

Vapor barriers are designed to stop the vapor from travelling through the wall cavity and soaking the insulation. Let’s go back to the wool coat idea again. Take that wool coat and soak it in a bucket of water then put it on. You will find very quickly that wet wool or wet fiberglass and cellulose conducts temperature very quickly. As Joseph Lstiburek points out, “Vapor is principally transported by air flow not by vapor diffusion. We needed air barriers not vapor barriers to control vapor flow. It took decades for that distinction to be appreciated.”

It was widely thought that vapor diffusion was causing insulation to become saturated with moisture when it was really air flow or air movement. He covers many different ways that have been tried or are currently being used to add an air or vapor barrier. While most of these will work if perfectly installed, in reality most of these do not work because they are not perfectly installed. Joseph points out that in the real world applications are just not matching the designed standards. Talk about labor intensive, check out this fluid applied air barrier:

What Really Works

So let’s cover what does work in the real world: spray foam insulation. Pretty much all of the wall assemblies mentioned here could easily be fixed installing open or closed cell spray foam. Both open and closed cell spray foam are an air seal or air barrier. While some people may think there is a lower cost way to stop air movement in a wall cavity, I would argue that most of these ways require great attention to detail which in turn equals great cost. Spray foam insulation quickly sprays into place filling cracks, holes, gaps, etc. air sealing the wall or attic assembly.

You may try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to air barriers, but you really need a good spray foam contractor!

Importance of a Good Subcontractor

You Need a Good Subcontractor

During the construction process you will be in contact with a lot of subcontractors. While sometimes I feel as though subcontractors can get a bad rap on the jobsite, most of the time they do not deserve it. During the construction process, you will be faced with making tons of decisions at a rapid pace. While a lot of these decisions will be made on cost alone, choosing a subcontractor based solely on that is a bad decision.

subcontractors

A subcontractor should be chosen on many different factors which also includes cost. I could generalize this blog for most subcontractors, but because we are spray foam contractors I will focus on them for this blog. Here are a few factors to consider:

Experience: Experience is a key factor in the spray foam world. Purchasing a rig on eBay and spending a few minutes watching YouTube tutorials does not make an experienced Spray Foam Subcontractor. My general rule of thumb here is finding someone who has been in the business full-time for at least 5 years. You don’t want someone learning on the job during your project.

Training: What kind of training has this subcontractor and their employees completed? The bare minimum here would be training from the manufacturer they purchase their products from. The next step would be completing SPFA certification. Do your homework and ask for documentation.

Proof of License and Insurance: Simply asking for proof doesn’t cut it. Get written proof.

References: Get a list of recent customers from the spray foam contractor and check them. Ask the customers about their good and bad experiences with the subcontractor. Did they show up when promised? Was the work completed in line with the scope of work or quote provided? Was the work done on time? A little careful listening can tell you a lot about the character of the spray foam contractor.

General Contractors: What other general contractors does this spray foam subcontractor work for on a regular basis? What major companies have they completed work for? Large companies have offices full of people on the lookout for potential problem subcontractors. They also have very strict rules before letting subcontractors onto their premise. Leaning on their experience can help you steer clear of issues.

Cost: I left this one for last for good reason. Too many people focus on the cost alone when choosing a spray foam contractor. Price is what you pay, value is what you get. The sweetness of a low price quickly fades when the work being done is not up to standard.

Like most things in life, doing your homework will create the best result when selecting a spray foam contractor for your project. Contact us today for any spray foam needs you have!

Rising Utility Cost Increasing the Value of Spray Foam Insulation

Rising Utility Cost Increasing the Value of Spray Foam Insulation

 

After reading an article from the Business Record, I’ve been thinking about some of what I would call the “core benefits” of spray foam insulation. I have talked many times in the past about comfort being the largest value of spray foam. And it is, but spray foam insulation has many values associated with it including lowering utility cost. As utility costs continue to rise it becomes an even better asset to saving you money.

 

Electric Rate graph

 

According to a CNS News article, Mid-American Energy has implemented the second part of a 3-phase plan in raising electrical rates $45 million dollars in three years. This goes back to the basic supply vs. demand problem. As of January 2014, the US has the smallest supply of electricity since 2007 with an increase in demand of over 14 million people. This problem is only going to worsen as time continues.

Supply vs. Demand

Not only is demand putting a pressure on supply, but environmental groups are mounting legal cases on any new coal-fired electrical plant plans. Many existing coal-fired plants are being taken offline due to legal pressure or expensive upgrade costs to pass tougher emission tests. This site shows a growing list of plants being taken offline.

This leaves us with three choices to increase supply: build new natural gas fired plants, wind generated farms, and lower usage. Natural gas fired plants are relatively clean burning, but when we use natural gas to generate electric power we are also creating a higher demand on natural gas, driving its costs up as well.

Use Less!

Adding spray foam insulation with other energy-lowering options can reduce demand. A properly insulated house or building using spray foam can lower heating and cooling costs by as much as 50%.

Demand per household is also up at this given time. Think about it: back in the 1970s we had one TV per house, one refrigerator, no computers or 4-5 cell phones per home. How many of you now have a refrigerator in your kitchen but also in your basement and garage? How many TVs do you now have in your home? We have all switched to compact fluorescent lighting but demand still increases because of all of the other things in our homes. The problem is it is only going to get worse – how long until we all have 2-3 cars plugged into our garages? That meter is going to spin faster than a Harlem Globetrotters’ basketball!

Spray foam insulation is an investment that will pay increasing dividends as time goes along. Remember, you buy spray foam insulation once, but you buy energy to operate your HVAC system every time it comes on and the costs always goes up over time. To start investing in a lower-usage future, contact us today!

Insulation and Knob & Tube Wiring

Insulation and Knob & Tube Wiring

This time of year Mother Nature reminds us how powerful she can be. We receive numerous inquiries from prospective customers wanting to know if we can inject spray foam insulation into existing walls. While we can most certainly do this if the wall cavity is empty, the first thing our Salespeople and Certified Applicators look for is Knob & Tube wiring within the structure. If there is any, we always recommend bringing in a certified electrician.

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While we are definitely experts in spray foam insulation, we would never undertake wiring a home. We here at Iowa Spray Foam always refer to a professional electrician for their services.

Why is insulation and Knob & Tube a bad combination?

Knob & Tube wiring needs space to keep it cool. When spray foam insulation (or any insulation for that matter) is installed around it, the insulation restricts the wiring from dissipating the heat in the wire when electricity is energizing the circuit. If the heat is not properly dissipated, the wiring could overheat and potentially cause a fire. This is part of the reason that the tubes come into play: they prevent the wire from touching the framing or other materials, preventing fires.

You must also keep in mind that some of this wiring could be as old as 80 years old. We have witnessed some homes where the protective insulation wrap around the wiring has fallen off or has even been chewed off by rodents. So while most people don’t really want to spend money on upgrading their homes, it is really a good idea.

Don’t believe us? See what This Old House has to say about Knob & Tube: “Faced with drafty houses and high heating bills, homeowners often add thermal insulation to their attics and walls. Insulation on top of knob and tube wiring is a major fire hazard.”  They go on later to state,  “In 1987, the National Electric Code prohibited the placement of insulation in contact with this type wiring.”

These concerns come into play not only inside a wall cavity, but also in attics, crawl spaces, or even basements when installing spray foam insulation. This is just another reason to make sure you are looking for professionally trained and certified spray foam insulation contractors for your projects. Call us at Iowa Spray foam for your next home project.