With summer just around the corner, many homeowners are looking for ways to lower their air conditioning bills. Installing spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is one option.

How to Select a Spray Foam Insulation ContractorThis type of insulation has many benefits, including reduced air infiltration that can lower energy costs and improve indoor comfort.

When having SPF insulation installed, homeowners should work with a professional contractor who can fully explain the product and the installation process.

“Spray polyurethane foam can help homeowners keep their houses cooler during the summer because it resists the transfer of heat very well, but installing SPF is not a DIY project,” said Peter Davis, chair of the Spray Foam Coalition, part of the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry of the American Chemistry Council. “It’s important for homeowners to select a professional contractor who can educate them on the product, installation process and industry best practices.”

Consider these tips from the Spray Foam Coalition when selecting a professional SPF contractor.

There are several ways to find and select a professional contractor. The membership directory of the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance lists contractors by area, and the contractor directory of the Insulation Contractors Association of America lists contractors by product and service.

Always choose a spray polyurethane foam contractor with proper training in SPF installation. Also ask them about their experience, insurance and licenses, and be sure to request customer references.

Your professional SPF contractor should tell you about the benefits of the product, the appropriate areas to use it in the home, its properties, and which type of SPF is right for your climate and application.

Contractors should discuss in detail what homeowners can expect during the installation process. Important topics include mechanical ventilation needs during and after SPF installation, and safety best practices, such as how the contractor plans to isolate and mark off the work area. You should also ask about the time needed for the product to cure, and how long people and pets must remain out of the home.

The Spray Foam Coalition also outlines some things to expect when having SPF installed.

Installation time varies depending on the size of the job and the ease of access to the site. A small amount of SPF applied to a home’s interior can take as little as an hour or two to complete. Most homes can be completed in less than a day once any prep work is done.

The SPF contractor will extinguish all flames in the area where SPF is being applied. This includes flames in neighboring rooms and behind walls, such as pilot lights used in natural gas stoves or ovens, furnaces, water heaters and clothes dryers.

The SPF contractor will limit access to the site to workers wearing proper personal protective equipment. SPF installers wear personal protective equipment during and immediately after application to avoid contact with the reacting chemicals.

While the foam can be sprayed and completed in a matter of hours, people and pets need to remain out of the home for the amount of time recommended by the SPF manufacturer. Different factors affect how long it takes for SPF to cure, including temperature, humidity levels and the SPF’s formula. You should discuss with your contractor the amount of time they need to wait before re-entering the home.

The contractor will clean the work site thoroughly before the homeowner, family and pets re-enter the space.

With proper installation and mechanical ventilation, SPF insulation is not odorous after it has been applied and allowed time to cure. If you are concerned about odors you think may be related to the SPF installation, you should contact your contractor.    

For more information about SPF and its benefits, visit www.whysprayfoam.org.