Project: Leslieville Semi
At Foam Comfort Inc. we talk the talk and walk the walk!
Not only do we provide and professionally install the best insulation products available in the market for our valued customers but we test them out by applying them in our own homes, garages and administrative offices. We use them to both better the comfort and health of our employees and to trim the company’s bottom line by reducing energy usage.
Spray Foam Insulation TorontoThe administrative offices are located in a typical East Toronto two storey semi-detached house built in the early part of the last century and with:
- Roughly 800 square feet above grade 400 square feet in basement Cantilevered/Bay window Mudroom/Enclosed Porch Peaked roof on front 1/3 of house Flat roof for remaining 2/3 of house Brick façade, 2”x4” framing
Since the building was in poor shape and there was no insulation present, all plaster and lathe was removed. As it was a wood frame structure, framing was not required.
With the 2”x4” cavity we were able to add R20 (3.3”) of insulation to all exterior walls on both the 1st and 2nd floors using Polarfoam 7300-SOYA*, a 2lb polyurethane closed-cell, medium density insulation. Because old houses are infamous for being crooked and full of cracks, gaps and holes, spray foam was the perfect solution as it goes on as a liquid and quickly expands to fill the space, creating a tight seal.
As the basement was unfinished and located in a south Toronto neighbourhood prone to flooding and presenting some efflorescence (whitish mineral deposit often seen on basement foundation walls), we took extra precautions to ensure the basement would be a warm, comfortable and dry living space by water proofing the exterior with a weeping tile first. The basement was then framed with 2”x4”’s spaced approximately 1” off the basement foundation wall. This allows the spray foam to completely cover the basement walls (thermal break) and preventing any thermal bridging from occurring where the wood framing meets the foundation wall.
Bay windows, as aesthetically pleasing as they are, are a source of frustration to most homeowners. In the majority of older homes there is no insulation under the overhang. For this reason there is continual air seepage from outside. The greater the temperature differential between the outside and the inside, the more the house will “suck” (stack effect) and can result in a bedroom or living space that is continually colder (or warmer in summer!) than the rest of the house. We addressed this problem by opening the floor and spraying 5” (R30) of spray foam insulation. Alternatively, had we not been able to cut into the floor, we could have insulated it from the exterior by removing any siding/facia in place and then spraying up onto the underside of the floor joists.
Like many similar houses of its era, ours has a small enclosed porch (mudroom) at the rear of the building. Because there was no insulation and no heating vents in this area and it is exposed on all sides (ceiling,floor and walls) it was wasted space . Rather than tear it down, it was decided that if we could change the climate of that room it would be perfect for storage. We sprayed all walls with 3.3” (R20) of closed-cell foam and then sprayed the underside of the floor (access through a small door in the exterior of the mudroom) and the shed roof with 5” of the same. We then removed the door to this room allowing it to be warmed by the house. The room now maintains a constant temperature and hey, who in their right mind wouldn’t want additional storage?
Our roofline was typical as well with the front 1/3 peaked with a traditional attic and the remainder a flat ceiling. An option that we decided on was to turn the front peaked ceiling into a cathedral ceiling. There was a small amount of cellulose fibre in the attic that we removed along with the plaster and lathe before spraying R28 (4.5”) onto the roof joists. The benefit to us was that the master bedroom appeared larger as a result of the high vaulted ceiling and unlike cellulose, the spray foam will never need a top-up.
Flat roofs in older homes are especially problematic as there is no easy way to correctly insulate them. Unlike an attic with an access hatch where cellulose can be blown in, there is no easy way to add insulation and the roofs themselves were never designed to be insulated. Because they are shallow and non-vented, the addition of cellulose installed by drilling holes and blowing in can result in mold as there is insufficient air flow to remove warm moist air that escapes into the insulation, resulting in condensation. As there is no vapour barrier (as the concept did not exist at the time these houses were built) condensation can seep into the drywall and propagate the mold issue.
We removed the plaster and lathe on the ceiling and sprayed 2lb polyurethane foam insulation to the entire surface to a depth of 4.5” (R28). Although 3” would have sufficed, we wanted to fulfill the requirements of the Eco Audit in order to maximize on the energy saving rebates. Because homeowners may be averse to a renovation of this magnitude or perhaps they have intricate plaster work that they do not wish to disturb, a work around would be to insulate from the outside. This is best done in conjunction with a roof replacement. Once the exterior sheathing/shingles and wood are removed, spray foam is applied onto the ceiling -there would be no disturbance to the interior of the home.
Because our office is located on three levels with 6 offices, we used Icynene, a ½ lb water blown foam insulation between the floors. This helps to dramatically reduce transfer of noise such as ringing phones, people talking and walking, chairs moving, printers, copiers etc. During the renovation process During the renovation process, while the ceilings were open in the basement and main floor, we sprayed 4” of foam onto the underside of the floor joists. I highly recommend this option when renovating as it adds to privacy between tenanted units, media rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms etc. The reduction in noise adds to the relaxation and enjoyment of a space.
Since the Polarfoam-7300 has a low vapour permeance ,(exceeds the Ontario building code requirement) we did not use a vapour barrier. Additionally, because of the structural nature of 2lb spray foam, the addition of the foam helped to reinforce the structure. Because of the high R value (6/”)we could use the existing 2×4’s and still have R20 in the walls. No lumber was required to reinforce or extend framing.
Because spray foam insulation is an air barrier it does not allow harmful pollutants, chemicals and allergens to enter the home. Polarfoam 7300-SOYA is Greenguard Certified Product http://www.greenguard.org/en/index.aspx which means it reduces chemical exposure and increases indoor air quality. In addition, the spray foam promotes an “even” temperature throughout the building with no “cold or hot spots” or areas that suffer from temperature swings at different times of day and in varying seasons.
Even though we are located at street level on an arterial roadway, our employees notice that their work environment is quiet relative to the outside. So, no matter where a building is located, it can benefit from the noise pollution reprieve that spray foam insulation offers.
Energy savings are the gravy in the whole equation. Although a healthy and comfortable work environment for employees is the guiding principle, the energy savings resulting from the use of the spray foam insulation provide an incentive that continues for the life of the building and makes a home more valuable in the resale market.
Mid way through the first year after the renovation was complete we received the attached Enbridge bill and much to management’s surprise a $1,235.08 credit! Because the house was so inefficient prior the renovation we continued to be billed at this rate. Once gas reading actuals were taken, a credit was applied against payments taken on estimated readings. This equates to a savings of over 80% in costs in comparison with the previous year’s heating and cooling consumption.
Because the renovation was done when the Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments were all taking part in eco-audit programs, substantial rebates for the increased insulation were granted. Due to the high R value and air barrier qualities of the 2lb foam, traditional insulation products such as cellulose or fiberglass would not qualify.