Remediating a spray foam project

Remediating projects that have spray foam insulation can be a complicated and costly process. Solutions can vary from “Oh, it’s not the foam.” to having to remove and replace the foam and/or the building components it was applied to.  Unless occupants are hyper-sensitive to the chemical compounds, or the chemicals are unreacted and out-gassing at very high levels, removal is generally not required.  The most difficult decisions are related to knowing in advance which approach will render an acceptable resolution of the problem. Following is a broad outline of the process and the options for remediating a project.

First, identify the foam problem type and extent

  • Building enclosure system
  • Foam materials and installation
  • Codes and standards violations
  • Determine the extent to which foam is defective or does not comply

Second, identify the risk level of the foam problem

  • Health Risk Projects
  • Nuisance Odor Projects
  • Project design issues
  • Building Performance Problems Only

Remediation options

  • Determine if any building design problems that were identified can be rectified without removing the foam or modifying the foam installation.  Repair the design issue.
  • General cleaning of surfaces combined with short-term ventilation (odor issues.)
  • Neutralization (chemical reactant application for surface chemicals and substrates only)
  • Isolation (coating or membrane for odor and localized health issues)
  • Long-term continuous general ventilation (minor odor and health issues)
  • Long-term continuous local ventilation (Usually combined with at least some type of isolation – localized sources)
  • Removal and replacement of the problem foam (usually requires some or all of the above to address residue in the substrate materials)
  • Complete demolition and re-construction of the affected building components (severe health issues that cannot be addressed with any of the above)

If a removal process is required (primarily health risk projects)

  • Site preparation
  • Worker and Site protection, CAZ (combustion appliance zone – typically focusing on back-drafting fired appliances) safety
  • HVAC system protection (cleaning and air sealing may be required if contaminated)
  • Sequencing
  • Removal
  • Close out procedures and long-term monitoring
  • Final cleaning/ventilation
  • IAQ verification
  • Re-installation of building envelope and HVAC components
  • Foam replacement; or,
  • Alternative building envelope materials or systems

Site and occupant protection that may be used for either the repair or the removal process

  • Work zone isolation
  • Product and/or residue neutralization
  • Product and/or residue encapsulation
  • Ventilation
  • High or low level
  • Short or long term
  • Remediation followup
  • CAZ safety verification
  • Radon testing\Air quality monitoring
  • Follow-up options

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