Question

The attic in our 2004 house has no insulation. Will spray foam irritate my asthma?

Asked by Marie
Richmond Hill, GA

We need insulation for the attic of our 2004 house in Savannah, GA. Currently it has no insulation at all. Our energy bills have been as high as $600 a month from May through September. We have two units in this house and it is about 2,900 square feet. It is fully bricked. We are desperate to do something, but we cannot seem to find anyone to give us an answer about what to do with our attic space. Every contractor I call for an estimate wants to put in spray foam; I have asthma, so I am afraid to get it.
 

Answer

Danny Kelly

Answered by Danny Kelly

Charlotte, NC

Kelly McArdle Construction

December 2, 2010

A 2004 house without any insulation in the attic? How is that even possible -- do they not have a building code and inspections down there?

  • First question -- is one of your HVAC units in your attic?
  • If not -- forget the spray foam and simply get a good air-sealing job done at your ceiling and install blown in insulation (cellulose or fiberglass) to R-38.
  • If you do have an HVAC unit and/or ductwork in the attic, you may want to consider a semi-conditioned attic -- where home foam insulation is one of the few options.

Although rare, I do hear of issues with reactions to spray foam, so if you are sensitive to plastics, you may want to avoid using it.

There are other ways to accomplish the same thing, or you can consider an HVAC “penthouse” to bring the unit itself into the thermal envelope of your home. Be sure your ductwork has an R-8 insulation on it. Insulating at your ceiling level in conjunction with a radiant barrier installed on the bottom of your rafters is another option that is similar in cost and performance.

 

For more information:

Check our best attic insulation Q&A to see what other homeowners and contractors are saying about spray foam insulation, etc.

Tagged In: home air quality, attic insulation

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