Spray foam insulation is a valuable technique to raise living standards in a home. SFI can tackle moisture and air leakages throughout the year. However, its temperature and environmental requirements constrain it from providing excellent performance each time. So, how do you supply it with enough comfort to get the best out of it? Let's find out.
To apply spray foam insulation, you will need your surface components to be within the range of 100-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In open-cell insulation, the components can be as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure your hose is at the same temperature.
- In closed-cell insulation, you may extend the heating range to 110 - 130 degrees Fahrenheit
It is easier said than done. After all, what would you do on a freezing winter morning or a bright summer day? To understand all conditions needed for an SFI system to work perfectly, keep reading ahead.
Open Cell vs Closed Cell Insulation
To get an adequate understanding of spray foam temperature settings, it becomes essential to familiarize yourself with the difference between both of its types.
As the name suggests, open-cell insulation has a distinguished cell structure as compared to closed cell. The cells have openings, allowing in air and making the foam smoother and flexible.
In a closed-cell, the openings seal completely. Thus, no moisture or air may escape through its rigid structure, making it suitable for rough weather conditions.
R-value measures a material’s resistance towards the air, moisture, or any external influences that may hinder the insulation. Open-cells have an R-value around 3-4 per inch, which is significantly less than the other. A closed-cell foam displays an R-value of at least 6 per inch, making it a more reliable option.
At What Temperature Can You Spray Foam?
Any temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the substrate layer can be spray foam. The minute the temperature dips to extremes, adhesion and yield become significantly low.
Further on, we discuss how to deal with the situation whereby your ambient temperature falls below the mark.
Can Spray Foam Insulation Be Done In Cold Weather?
Yes, with a few extra considerations, you may carry out spray foam insulation in cold weather. However, you cannot do so while the ambient temperature sustains to be below the mark.
Here are a few essential pointers for choosing an SFI installation in the winter.
Choosing the Correct Material
Closed-cell foams are generally well built with better resistance towards moisture and air. Additionally, manufacturers now produce a variation with formulas specially designed for winters.
Within open-celled systems, the temperature of the site will remain an issue even after installation. The cell itself is not rigid enough to resist extreme wind and moisture.
Maintaining the Accurate Temperature
A strong material choice will set the fundamentals of your project right, but an appropriate temperature gets the game working.
You must use the methods below for safely deviating the temperature towards the ideal range:
- Keep your drums stored within the range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the weather turns it back to cold, your foam blend will likely be too thick to use. Moreover, this may make the machine incapable of being heated later on.
- Check your datasheet for any specific temperature requirements.
- Warm the bottom part of the drum as it will be controlling the temperature of the whole structure. Use a heater for this purpose.
- Install a pallet fan or a ceiling fan to circulate the heated air around the room efficiently. This step is to make sure that the drum maintains a uniform temperature.
- Use a thermometer or a thermostat in the vicinity to be sure of the room temperature. This step will help you decide how much more or less deviation is required.
- Place 3 ½" - 1 ½" wooden planks beneath the drums to lift them off the floor. Now, air from the fans will be able to reach the bottom and heat it.
Is It Unavoidable?
Nevertheless, give a good thought to whether you can delay the procedure to a relatively warmer month. The disadvantages of winter installation include but are not limited to:
- If you are applying spray foam on a surface like metal, fiberglass, or concrete, chances are you will be incapable of sticking the foam on. Yield will be poor, and temperature regulation will be inefficient.
- Since closed-cell surfaces can produce adhesion problems, the project will take longer than expected. You might have to do double coats, start again or bear the material loss.
- As the time duration is conditional, the entire procedure can end up being heavily costly. You will have to pay for extra material, labor fees, and energy bills for the heaters.
How Warm Does It Need to be to Spray Foam Insulation?
Within the ambient temperature range, maintain at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit to carry out spray foam insulation. Now, in theory, you may extend this range to up to 180 degrees for different components.
Keep in mind that this is the maximum range you can stretch to without melting the system down. However, below 80 will only shrink your foam and cause it to drip off.
Where Should You Not Use Spray Foam Insulation?
Spray foam insulation may be exceptionally versatile but remember it has distinct properties compared to other options. Due to its shape-shifting nature, you must never use spray foam:
- Between an electrical box
- Atop recessed lighting
- Around windows and doors
- As roof insulation
- In rooms for people with any respiratory disease
Between an Electrical Box
The space between an electrical box and the outside wall might be a tempting prospect for insulation. However, don’t forget about the vulnerability of the electrical wires and the burnable nature of the box itself.
Should you accidentally stuff any bit of foam into the box, you will impair the electrical system. If it is the main supply, the damage is even more far-fetched. Moreover, spray foam may ignite and burst if exposed to excessive energy. Thus, for your safety and your house’s, refrain from using spray foam between electrical boxes.
Around Locks for Openings
Spray foam expands up to 30 times as compared to the liquid volume you apply on the surface. If your use of foam is a high-expanding option, the multiplication rate goes even higher.
In general, do not use it closely around windows, doors, support boxes, or any other openings you would not like stuck. As the foam’s expansion can quickly take over the locks, you will find these things stuck in place.
To avoid this, reduce the amount of foam used. Apply a small layer first, let it expand, and then rest. Then, if you feel the need, fill in the remaining space carefully.
Atop Recessed Lighting
Recessed ceiling lights act as an outlet for air when installed on the underside of the roof. If you were to insulate atop the ceiling lightboxes, you would be setting the floor for an immense heat trap. This process not only nullifies the function of insulation but can also result in fire or explosions.
The US Department of Energy allows insulated ceilings to be fitted with LED lights only when the fixtures are IC-rated. Also, place it at a distance of 13mm from combustibles. Spray foam can burn, so keep the energy code in mind during installation.
Open-cell spray foams have a lower R rating than closed-cells and are ineffective in the face of extreme weather. Thus, if you are looking for roof insulation, do not opt for an open-celled structure. Not only would it allow moisture to pass and insulation to reverse, but it will also eventually lead to material waste and roof damage.
People with Medical Issues
Spray foam consists of Isocyanate, a highly reactive class of chemical compounds and many other chemicals. These substances are irritants to human skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Thus, if you have a history of such a medical illness or sensitive skin, do not install spray foam in the room you use most.
How Do You Heat Up Spray Foam?
To heat a spray foam, you may use one of the following methods. Without heating, you will not be able to achieve a thick consistency for the foam.
- Use a heating blanket
- Soak in warm water baths to raise the temperature
- Use space heaters to warm up the storage space for the foam
There you have it! Now, be it winters or summers, you have the information to get your spray foam insulation kit right. Get the insulation down and live a safe, happy life.
Before you go, are you wondering how thick foam insulation should be in a basement? For more information, check out our post here. And, if you want to know more types of thermal insulation, check out our post here. Until next time!