Education, the Homeowner’s Most Powerful Tool: Part 2 – Education Choice

In part one of this series we examined the importance of education in making a sound decision for home improvement needs. We illustrated the trickle-down effect these educated choices can have on one’s own economic situation, as well as the benefits to the national economic state. Now, let us move on to the core of our purpose: to provide a solid overview of the types and characteristics of polyurethane spray foam insulation.If your home was built during the late 1980′s and beyond, there is probably a fair amount of fiberglass batting or blown-in insulation around the home. Up until the mid-2000′s those were very common options available for thermal insulation. Fiberglass and blown-in insulation certainly were a healthier alternative to asbestos, but coupled with single-paned aluminum windows the result was wet moldy window sills and walls. Drafts coming from nooks and crannies in soffits, attics, ceiling voids, crawl spaces and other areas, were not stopped up. The result was a constant adjustment of the thermostat and higher energy bill. Alas, what could the average homeowner do? This was simply the way of the world! But was it?Polyurethane spray foam insulation has been in use in some way or another since the 1950′s. Its first use was in the bodies of airplanes, then motor vehicles and eventually residential buildings. Polyurethane foam is made from polymers and urethane combined together in one tank, and at the time of application is mixed with a catalyst producing the desired foam. There are two basic types of foam, closed cell and open cell. Closed cell means the air pockets within the foam are not inter connected. Open cell means the air pockets are interconnected. The functional difference between the two lies in both air and moisture penetration. When closed cell polyurethane foam is applied to an attic, and fills in all nooks and crannies where air is entering the home, the sealed characteristics of the air pockets in the foam mean zero water and air can become trapped. Therefore a superior thermal barrier is present.Open cell polyurethane spray foam insulation has its benefits too. While the air pockets in the applied foam are open, and can hold moisture, the open cell foam is an excellent product for insulating interior walls. When an existing wall needs to be insulated either for thermal or noise purposes, it is important to consider as little impact to the wall as possible. If you’re not going to take down drywall, the application process involves a small opening in an unobtrusive place on the wall, and spraying the foam in the cavity via a specialized wand. You can use open cell in these interior walls because there is no opportunity for moisture penetration from the outside. Thus the open air pockets are not an issue. Instead, the wall is now thermally insulated and has become a sound barrier.As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to know your investment inside and out. Every tiny nuance should be familiar to you. It is a sub-culture all itself, that home of yours. Each room has a purpose and a history, just as each person who lives there does. Protect all those characteristics with ongoing learning about the latest technological advancements, including thermal insulation.