Applied Spray Foam Founder, Dana Demello, talks about the right and wrong things homeowners do when tackling home insulation projects using popular do-it-yourself spray foam insulation kits.
Applied Spray Foam Founder Dana Demello
SBT: Right now spray foam insulation is popular for homeowners because of the high levels of energy-efficiency it brings as opposed to fiber glass insulation. Many homeowners have decided to look into do-it-yourself kits. What are some common pitfalls homeowners need to consider before tackling their home insulation projects with a do-it-yourself kit?
Dana Demello: Well, one of the things they need to lookout for is everybody thinks the tighter they seal their house up the better, and that’s not necessarily true. If they seal their houses up too tight they are actually hurting their energy-efficiency. You have to have an air exchange within the home, number one, for the quality of the air in the home and, number two, so the home can breathe.
If you take a shower or use the dishwasher or use anything that creates any kind of moisture in your home, then that moisture has to have a way to escape.
Let’s say a homeowner has two 2X4s coming together on a header of a window, and you have a little bit of drywall that has got a crack in it, which means the air can get in, you will start to see black streaks on your drywall if you seal it too tight, because that’s where the air and moisture would have to pass through.
SBT: So they could be creating a much bigger problem by going too far with their efforts, that’s interesting.
Dana Demello: Yes, they can create a problem going too far if they spray it up too tight, and another thing they’ll do is when it comes to crawlspace, they’ll decide to spray their whole entire floors. The problem is, in most homes, your heat ducts in the home run into the crawlspace which means spraying the entire floor would block the heat from getting to the floor, because with spray foam insulation you are creating a solid barrier where air and moisture cannot pass through. So instead of spraying the whole entire floor of your crawlspace if you just spray the exterior walls of the crawlspace and, maybe lay some plastic down if there’s no hard bottom, and allow the heat to be saved, you’re then saving it within a confined space and you’re conditioning the crawlspace letting the warm air get to the floor and heating your home.
SBT: Wow, that’s an amazing piece of advice. Thank you for that. Are there any health issues to be concerned with before starting a do-it-yourself spray foam insulation project?
Dana Demello: Just make sure you wear protective gear. If you were to get any foam in your mouth or lungs while spraying, because the expansion rate is so fast, it would seal off any air passages that you have. I mean, it would kill you if that happened. So you always wear protective gear just like we would if we were doing it commercially as a company. It also burns if it touches the skin when growing, if it’s hot enough, and it is a son of a gun to try and get it off. You also want to have great ventilation when you are doing it because the fumes are so strong so we recommend you get a fresh air respirator for that.
SBT: Are there any additional tools a homeowner would need if they decide buy a spray foam insulation kit?
Dana Demello: Well, for the most part, spray foam is permanent once you put it in. You literally need to chisel it out once it is in there. So for any of the excess we recommend a spray foam insulation saw or we also use scrapers that have a super sharp edge on one side. That’s pretty much it for tools if you want to get the job finished correctly.
SBT: Why would a homeowner want to hire a professional rather than use a do-it-yourself kit? I mean, it sounds like a lot of work to begin with.
Dana Demello: Great question. It depends on the square-footage a home needs covered. For small projects do-it-yourself kits are an excellent option. For example, let’s say you have a basement and you want to seal it up because you see some leaks. Well, all you have to spray is the joists area in your house, because that’s where a lot of homes are losing air, or, if you’re a person who has an old farmhouse and you want to take out your bathroom wall because you’re doing some plumbing work and you’ve got a little 4×8 space you need to do, that’s a perfect application for a do-it-yourselfer and it’s a lot less costly than what a more commercial applicator would charge because the pure cost of the product is so high they will only do jobs starting at no less than five hundred dollars.
But for large projects do-it-yourself kits are not a cost-effective option because the pure cost of the product is so high. It is two to three times more costly than fiberglass insulation. Do-it-yourself kits are only about 5 or 6 gallons, so if you start adding up the price for a much larger project like an entire home that is 4,000 or 10,000 square feet the cost would be substantially more using a do-it-yourself kit because a professional is able to buy foam in bulk – 55 gallon drums or 200 gallon containers – cheaper than a homeowner can buy in do-it-yourself kits.
SBT: Is there any reason why a person should not go the do-it-yourself route aside from the cost of doing projects with several thousand square feet?
Dana Demello: Well, once you put it in it’s there so if you put it in the wrong spot you are done. You have to cover everything you don’t want it to touch, and I mean, it sticks to everything that it touches, so you want to make sure that you prep well.
SBT: That’s fantastic, the things that you shared here were outstanding and will help a lot of do-it-yourselfers with their smaller spray foam insulation projects. I certainly appreciate the frankness about what needs to be done and what does not need to be done and I know that’s why you have such a great reputation with your clients is because you talk them out of giving you money sometimes which is the right thing to do. I appreciate you sharing that with us today.
Dana Demello is the Founder and Co-Owner of Applied Spray Foam in Pinconning, MI which services all of Northeast Michigan. For more information about Dana Demello and Applied Spray Foam please call (989) 326-1484.