Bird Family Insulation has been installing spray foam insulation in retrofit (existing)
homes around Atlanta for about 12 years now.
We’ve probably sprayed foam in 2,000 homes by now.
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: Homeowners are concerned about the
lingering spray foam odor.
Before we settle on the price, they’re asking about “spray foam odors”.
Oddly, they don’t ask me these questions …
“Bob, what brand of foam are you putting in my house?”
“Bob, how long has your crew been spraying foam?”
“Bob, what type of equipment are you using?”
I don’t blame them. When I tore my ACL & MCL, I didn’t ask Dr X, (Emory Sports
Clinic) “What brand of stitches will you use on my incision?” Or “What brand of
anesthesia will you use on me?”
I only needed to know, “ What’s your success rate, Doc? ”
After walking through the clinic, seeing the 100’s of pro & collegiate athletic jerseys
signed by athletes with msgs like: “ Thanks Dr X for restoring my career! ” … I had my
Read my other articles to learn how your contractor can protect you from spray foam
odors. That’s not my intent in this article.
But, what happens in REAL LIFE, when you get that one client, who always
smells your spray foam insulation installed in their attic?
I got this idea from Jeffrey at Energy Vanguard, ( www.Energyvanguard.com ). We hired
him as a consultant for exactly this type of client. The team at EV are amazingly brilliant
when it comes to home performance.
BTW, this isn’t theory… I’ve installed these… and it works.
High up in the attic space, (as high as you can get it) install the Panasonic Whisper
Value variable speed exhaust fan. Terminate the duct to the atmosphere.
It’s so quiet! Wire it to run nonstop… 24/7.
Install a “pass-through” vent in the living space ceiling. Strategically locate this
pass-through vent in the distant, opposite end of the attic.
The vent will allow the Panasonic fan to pull fresh, conditioned air from the living space
into the attic, to replace the stale, trapped air that is being vacuumed from the attic with
the exhaust fan.
The Panasonic is super stingy… only using about 17 watts on the low setting. Did I say
it was super quiet?
This is a simplified explanation. Get with Jeffrey at Energy Vanguard for the full details,
such as the formula for calculating the fan speed setting, sizing the pass-through vent,
Everybody has a NOSE ...
We had another client who asked for a follow-up visit from me, 18 months after we had
sealed his attic with spray foam. As I entered his home, I could not smell our foam! I
walked upstairs (2 story home) with him, … no smell . We opened the pull-down attic
stair, … no smell . We climbed into his sealed attic, stillno smell !
He couldn’t smell ”the foam” either. As I questioned him, he said,“ Bob, I get a whiff of it
when I walk down the hallway, (passing under the pulldown stair), on hot summer
afternoons. That’s the only time. And really, it doesn’t bother us too much. We just want
to know, are we safe?””
My suggestion?“ Buy our zippered, insulated Attic Stair Cozy, and install it on your
loose-fitting pulldown attic stair” . He did,... and it worked.
Honestly, I haven’t smelled our spray foam insulation in a single one of the homes
where we have made a follow-up visit. But, I don’t live there. It’s real to them.
We have also found in our experience, if a homeowner is hyper-concerned about a
lingering spray foam odor in their home, they probably won’t be disappointed. They will
smell it. In my opinion, too many variable factors make it impossible to predict how long
“it lasts”, or “how strong it’ll be”, etc.
I remember one guy called, and I learned that he only smelled the foam when he went
up into his attic. I wanted to say, “ So… what does that matter? Do you live up there? ”
There are no guarantees in life, when it comes to smelling, hearing, feeling, tasting,
seeing. Everybody has their opinion, their experience. Most of our clients have a nose.
With homeowners, we inform them of the risk / reward, and are transparent as to our
protocols, brands, processes, and follow-up policy.
To hedge our bets, we study - study - study. Our spray foam crew follows strict
ventilation protocol. We buy the absolute most odor-free foam chemical I am aware of:
Lapolla. Our equipment is well maintained and serviced.
But I haven’t found a way to control those 5 senses most every homeowner has!
Till then, we’ll use the Panasonic fan, and Attic Stair Cozy, and call Jeffrey for the really
Spray Foam Insulation… It’s not math, it’s not linear. It’s science, mingled with the
elements, and human interpretations and senses, and maybe, just maybe, some fake
news tossed in.
Got Questions? Email Bob at Bob@Birdinsulation.com or call our office to speak with
Savannah (his daughter & office manager), 404-538-9168.