When Insulation Advice Goes Bad

Hindsight is 20-20. If you don’t believe the old adage, just ask Bill Hurley. He learned the hard way that not choosing the most knowledgeable, dependable, professional contractor can leave you – and your wallet – in worse shape when the job is done, than before it started.

When bad insulation advice leads to mold and termite infestation

When energy-conscious Bill Hurley decided to have spray foam installed in his New Orleans home, he initially worked with a contractor who recommended that he encapsulate the subflooring with open cell spray foam. Crawlspace insulation can indeed be a great idea, protecting homes from moisture damage and both mold and insect infestation. But there was one big problem with this contractor’s advice: Subflooring should be insulated with closed cell, not open cell spray foam.

Why closed cell spray foam is the best choice for subfloor encapsulation

In flood-prone Louisiana, impenetrable closed cell spray foam is the only smart choice for subfloor encapsulation. Fema is now recommending closed cell spray foam insulation not only as a sub floor sealant but as a future flood damage prevention for home in flood plains or home in areas of high water tables. Not only does it improve a home’s energy efficiency and form an airtight moisture barrier, but it also keeps termites away from all that tasty hardwood flooring.

Porous open cell spray foam, on the other hand, allows moisture and vapor through. While open cell spray foam is an excellent insulation material for places like roof decks (because it prohibits water from building up under shingles and exacerbating leaks), it can be really bad news for your crawl space.

In Bill’s case, the bad advice that he got from an inept contractor left him with far more to worry about than energy costs: a huge mold and termite problem.

What to do when you’ve got an insulation disaster on your hands

The good news, however, is that Hurley found a solution to his problem. He called the experts at Sunlight Contractors to get himself out of the mess that his previous inexpert contractor had gotten him into.

The SPFA-certified mold remediation professionals at Sunlight Contractors performed a blower door test and other inspections and discovered that lots of conditioned air was leaking out of the home while lots of moisture was leaking in.

When Sunlight Contractors removed the nearly 1200 square feet of open cell spray foam from beneath Hurley’s home, they discovered that  all the moisture had apparently invited termites to join the party and destroy six delectable wet rafters. Sunlight repaired the damaged rafters, rid the home of termites and took appropriate steps against future infestation, and applied closed cell spray foam to the entire subfloor area.

They also installed open cell spray foam to the bottom of Hurley’s metal roof deck and gable end walls. Now Hurley’s home is year-round comfortable, energy-efficient, and properly protected from moisture and termite damage.

The take-away? Far too many Louisiana contractors claim to be spray foam experts, but few truly are. As a result, bad insulation advice is far too common. Trust your home to a highly trained, certified, experienced contractor with the knowledge, expertise and determination to get it right the first time. Take it from satisfied customers like Hurley and trust your home to Sunlight Contractors.

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