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Rhonda James
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 05:50 PM
Spray foam odor 3 months after installation
We had open cell spray foam insulation placed in our attic in December 2010. The insulation company said that the insulation would be odorless. On warm sunny days -- I would say 70 degrees -- we can smell the insulation. The same smell when it was installed -- somewhat less but still significantly strong. We also have continuous throat and nasal irritation and burning -- we speculate that the fumes from the insulation are the cause. The company salesman came by a couple of weeks ago and took 2 samples on outer part of the foam. They said the samples tested fine. The company technician who performed the installation is coming tomorrow to take some additional samples. The company has now suggested that possibly the "curing" process is taking longer or that odors are from the original installation. I don't think either sounds plausible. They suggested venting it for a few days. We ran a fan vented to the outside for about a week. Venting helped some, but the odor returned once the fan was turned off. And continually running a fan defeats the purpose of having the attic insulated for energy savings. The insulation is not suppose to have an odor! The odor is stronger in the afternoons and into the evening during warm and sunny days. We are in the Atlanta area, and I wonder how bad the odor will be in the summer when temperatures reach the 80s and 90s all day long. We have not discussed removing the foam at this point, but if that is the correct solution I would like to have it done and be able to breathe comfortably again. I know that with proper installation the insulation is considered non-toxic, but I don't know that we have properly installed insulation since there is an odor. Are these fumes that we are breathing toxic? The installer had suggested at one point coating the insulation with Kilz to cover the odor. Does this sound appropriate? Also, how is spray foam insulation removed, and is it more expensive to remove it than it is to install it? Any advice or suggestions? Thank you very much!
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 06:59 PM
i have sprayed hundreds of open cell homes attics both in conditioned lid assemblies(to the roof underside)and down to the drywalled ceilings as well....
once the ventilation of the airborne airosoles of the spray process have been ventilated,,,which is usually just a few short hours,,,there is no evidence of any odor...
particularly with the open cell products,,,

if the manufacturer is telling you there is nothing wrong,,
and the installer comes back after his sample and says there is nothing wrong.....

our industry is well represented by a few professional consultation service type busineses
who's service may be of intrest to you if you desire an independant professional opinion...
you may need one,,,

those busineses can be found right here on

(depth of application,,,where applied,,,that kinda stuff)
good luck
foamdude :)
maurice richter
Posted: Mar 18, 2011 08:34 PM
Rhonda, I am just a homeowner as far as spray foam is concerned. I intend no offense to the professionals on this forum, and as you may have read thru here, there are many professionals here (as opposed to fly-by-night). You used the word "we", on the chance that "we" is children, have you seen a doctor? Maybe contact an environmental health expert not in spray foam? I want to think the best of everyone, but there are some "salesmen" in all industries who may not have the customer's best interest in mind. I wish you well!
Dean Nash
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 09:44 AM
Vent it or better said, have it vented!
Simply put, your home now has a "plastic bag" over the top of it and without HVAC consideration & involvement from a qualified HVAC contractor, it stands to reason that ventilation, or the lack thereof, combined with the prevalent Georgia humidity may be exacerbating your discomfort.
Try having it vented. It is my belief that you will loose minimal efficiency by doing so.

I fully understand your frustration & concern however finding the root of the problem is the foremost consideration, not finding one to blame. That can come later. I know many qualified people in the Atlanta area that would be happy to assist you, don't hesitate to call me & on behalf of the industry, I humbly offer an apology.
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 11:57 AM
Do you know what product was installed? I am thinking this was a retro-fit application, was the existing insulation removed from the attic space? Any boxes or other organic items in the attic while the spraying was going on?

We did a job where the customer did not want to remove the existing insulation, the smell stayed around for 2-3 months. After a couple trips back we just decided to remove the insulation. The smell was still present but notice alot less in strength. We then remove the boxes of tax papers (4 large boxes) the customer had left in the attic while the crew installed the insulation.

The smell went away all together. The organic material had absorbed the smell.
Kay Smith
Posted: Sep 15, 2015 06:08 PM
Rhonda, did you ever find a solution to your problem? We are experiencing a similar situation with spray foam on hot sunny days.
Posted: Jun 28, 2016 10:06 PM
I'm also interested in the solution. Not sure whether we need to rip it out or try an ERV...

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