Inspection & assessment

Inspecting, analyzing, and remediating problematic foam installations can be straight forward or very complicated, depending on how much information is available about the product and the installation.  In the worst case, the brand of foam is unknown and the installer is no longer available.  In some projects, there is good documentation and the installer is not available or is uncooperative.  In ideal situations, the installer stands behind his work and all of the information necessary to assess the project is readily available, including information about the circumstances of the work itself.  Foam problems may be localized or widespread throughout the project, and in some cases the foam is installed properly, but the application the foam is used for is not appropriate.  A diagnostic process would typically require some combination of the steps outlined below:

I. Data collection

  1. Project design/application review
    1. Intent of the assembly – performance goals and thresholds, enclosure use
    2. Foam and A/V barrier product/material selection assessment
    3. Substrate compatibility
    4. Environmental operating conditions
    5. Material and installation specification correctness
    6. Code compliance assessment
    7. Material/substrate compatibility analysis
    8. R-value and air barrier continuity
    9. Vapor control (dew point calculations, WUFI analysis, etc.)
    10. Water management
    11. Buildability and durability
    12. Wall and roof assembly ventilation requirements
    13. Design choices related to indoor air quality (mold and mildew)
    14. Intent communication
  2. General building envelope analysis – assembly performance goals and thresholds, enclosure use
    1. Design appropriateness
    2. Preview the architectural drawing to help in predicting the building envelope problem areas
    3. Make field inspections of building envelope problems
    4. Building performance testing (Pressurized theatrical fog, Blower door, Infrared, etc.)
    5. Building performance monitoring (RH, moisture, and temperature monitoring, etc.)
    6. Review the monitoring data to help prioritize the repair work
    7. Review ice, frost, and melt patterns
  3. Installer and capabilities analysis
    1. Installer qualifications (training, certifications, experience, etc.)
    2. Processing equipment capabilities
      1. Typical processing settings and documentation
      2. Quality assurance and documentation capabilities

II. Inspection of the foam installationLocalized shrinkage

    1. Identify defects and symptoms
    2. Flag and catalog the problem areas
    3. Identify patterns of the defects and symptoms
        1. Localized or intermittent problems
        2. Consistently in one type of project condition
        3. Widespread problem(s) throughout the entire project
    4. Test the air quality
    5. Prioritize the problems with respect to:
        1. Air quality
        2. Building envelope performance

III.  Making determinations about the installation process

    1. Were industry standards and best practices followed
    2. Were the manufacturer’s recommendations followed
    3. What substrate preparation was performed
    4. What were the conditions during the installation
    5. What installation techniques were used
    6. What quality assurance measures were used
    7. What documentation was maintained
    8. What post-installation protections were utilized and for how long

IV.  Foam materials analysis

    1. Test material for physical properties
    2. Test material for processing problems

V.  Report conclusions/recommendations

    1. Conclusions
      1. Design problems identified
      2. Materials problems identified
      3. Installation problems identified
      4. Use and conditions summary
      5. Architectural measurements, as-built drawings, and problem mapping
    2. Recommendations
      1. Cost-benefit analysis of remediation options (Repair/Remove and Replace)
      2. How to verify and maintain the repair or replacement work performance

Services available for problem solving and insurance situations:

    1. Field inspections of building envelope and foam installation problems
    2. Diagnostic testing
    3. Contract and documentation reviews for liability assessment
    4. Remediation planning and protocols
    5. Expert testimony

Ultimately, the goal of any diagnostic process is to understand what the problem is, what the cause is, who is responsible for the problem, and what the lowest cost approach is for remediating the problem.