Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

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ebartgis6
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Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#1 Post by ebartgis6 »

We recently had replacement Vytex windows installed. Spray foam insulation was utilized around the window, however there are some gaps in the spray foam allowing air infiltration to occur. This was in Maryland, where it is currently hot and humid out, and the air that is coming in through these gaps in the insulation is musty and smells like mold/mildew on rainy/humid days.

One of the the windows has the interior window sill/apron removed and that is where I am able to see the spray foam insulation gaps. Other windows in the house smell as well, so I am assuming that the spray foam insulation is lacking in multiple windows.

I plan to caulk the sill and apron of each window better to minimize air leakage, but should I be concerned with too little spray foam insulation?

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HomeSealed
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#2 Post by HomeSealed »

When applied, the foam will shrink a little bit sometimes leaving spots that need more foam added. Ideally that should be addressed during install, but things can be missed from time to time. Have you contacted your installer about this? It wouldn't be out of line to ask them to come out and address....

As far as being "concerned about too little spray foam", what do you mean? If concerned as in should that be addressed to mitigate the current air leakage, I'd say yes. If you are asking if you should be concerned on a larger scale or about some other aspect, perhaps you could elaborate?
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ebartgis6
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#3 Post by ebartgis6 »

Thanks for the reply. What I mean by concerned is any long term issues caused by the on going presence of moisture/condensation in a confined space.

I have been in contact with the installer since the smell started the week of installation. My first guess was capped over lintels causing some condensation issues. They have been responsive to calls and emails but hesitant to do anything that would require removing the aluminum capping that has been installed and caulked into place.

He also does not seem to agree that the spray foam should be a perfect air seal:

"I do not believe that having more foam will have anything to do with the odor. This is a low expanding foam. We are only supposed to spray in about an inch deep. It does not mean that your windows will be air-tight; however, this foam helps mitigate air leakage."

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HomeSealed
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#4 Post by HomeSealed »

hmmm... If the foam is applied consistently it really should seal the perimeter pretty close to 100%. That of course doesn't mean that you won't still have air infiltration through the window itself or through other interfaces in and around the window, but the foamed area should be pretty well sealed.

As far as the smell, that can be a tricky one and requires tracing the source of moisture which may not be this little bit of air leakage. In fact, if I had to list several potential sources, it would not be anywhere near the top. Can prolonged moisture presence cause issues? Yes, absolutely. The smell is an indication of that, that this is becoming something that you should be concerned with, but again, it may not be due to this issue, and potentially not even due to the window at all.

As an example, we had a client a few years back with a similar complaint ( the smell, not the foam), and we tore a few windows apart to ensure that there was no water infiltration through or around the windows that we installed. Ultimately he cut open some drywall to find moisture and mold growth that had been entering elsewhere.
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ebartgis6
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#5 Post by ebartgis6 »

It looks like the foam was not applied that consistently and that is why it there are some areas where there is obvious air infiltration. I can post a picture later to show the spray foam area that I can see.

We had the windows installed in April and never had any smell issues until the first rain storm the week after they were installed. The smell is very distinctly coming from the gaps in the spray foam insulation, which I assumed was coming from condensation that formed behind the aluminum capping or something.

We did have a leak in this window before it was replaced, however the window sill, apron, and a couple inches of drywall were removed from below the window and there is no smell or mold at least below the window. The guys who replaced the windows said there were no signs of rot or water damage on any of the rough openings.

That does not mean there aren't other issues behind the drywall, I just assumed that since the smell was coming through the gaps in the spray foam insulation, it pointed to an issue that was not inside of the drywall.

ebartgis6
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#6 Post by ebartgis6 »

Here are some pictures. The second one shows the gaps in the spray foam. I just added spray foam insulation to this area. However, I cannot add anything to the windows that still have the sill and apron in space. The best I can do is caulk the trim.

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipM ... dSYTllU3RR

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toddinmn
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#7 Post by toddinmn »

You’re a promlem seems odd And i I never had it. If the windows were capped that would be youre first air seal . Not saying you’re wrong but I’d be a amazed if the problem would show so quickly. I’ll be following for my own learning experience.

Delaware Mike
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#8 Post by Delaware Mike »

That's definitely not the prettiest foam application I've see. Did they not caulk the bottom sill cap area? Some installers don't as they have a theory that capped wood needs to breath and water needs a way out. Before foam became popular, installers would just add fiberglass insulation to that area and air would have penetrated through it if the exterior cladding and caulking wasn't mechanically sealed correctly. I'd be more concerned about that?

The Vytex lift rail looks drooped down on the left? If so, you may need to massage it back to straight with a heat gun if my eyes aren't deceiving me.

masterext
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#9 Post by masterext »

That foam expands very well and i would be shocked if there were gaps. You may see what “ appears” to be a gap in the front but in actuality, the foam expanded more towards the back and you may not see it. Im also amazed that you feel air in July. You may have issues elsewhere that have nothing to do with the windows.
If that is fiberglass i see , that could be wet and causing the smell. Again, that would have nothing to do with the window install.

ebartgis6
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#10 Post by ebartgis6 »

I have added a picture of the exterior capping. It was caulked and capped all the way around.

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipM ... dSYTllU3RR

The lift rail is bent a little. I have had to bend a couple of them back in place, but it bent back no problem.

There are definitely gaps in the foam. I looked at it very closely and you could stick something all the way through to the capping. There was clear air infiltration coming through the gaps in the photos. You could easily feel the warm humid air coming through the gaps and the smell is very concentrated at the gaps.

The fiberglass insulation that is below the window frame is completely dry and there is no smell coming from that area.

I have added spray foam insulation to this window, and also caulked and/or spray foamed under other window sills in the house to try to minimize the air infiltration if there is any, and will see if the smell is gone once we get some good rain again.

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HomeSealed
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#11 Post by HomeSealed »

Ebart, can you snap a couple more pics on the exterior showing the top of the window/trim/caulking, and another from a few steps back where we can see the window and siding system/brick immediately surrounding it?
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ebartgis6
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#12 Post by ebartgis6 »

I added a couple pictures to the album. Sorry for the close ups, but it is a third story window. I also took some from the ground as well. The window without the transom has been the biggest smell culprit. The window with the transom has also smelled before, but not recently.

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipM ... dSYTllU3RR

Delaware Mike
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#13 Post by Delaware Mike »

Well, there is certainly enough exterior sealant there. I would not have not capped lintels on your house. The guy or guys on that crew working the foam gun and caulking must be new to the trade as that is very poor workmanship. I'm kind of at a loss as to where that smell could be coming from unless there is some rotted sheathing from prolonged water intrusion that really didn't show up on the inside?

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Windows on Washington
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#14 Post by Windows on Washington »

+1. No shortage of exterior sealant.

Not a fan of capping the lentils like Mike added. It can be an issue long term depending on the home.

ebartgis6
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Re: Spray Foam Insulation Air Infiltration

#15 Post by ebartgis6 »

Thanks everyone for all the replies. I really appreciate it. This forum was very helpful when I was shopping for windows.

You do not want to see the interior caulk job either. I think they used the same OSI Quad on the inside and it is not the prettiest. We picked one of the best Angie's List rated provided in our area and they were definitely not the cheapest, so its unfortunate that my opinions on the quality of the finish work are confirmed by you guys as well.

The lintels was the first thing I brought up with the installer after we had the smells in the house. I found multiple places in this forum where people said capping the lintels is not the best thing to do. Unfortunately, the installer thinks capping the lintels is not bad at all and has always done it that way. I wish I had known about this topic while shopping for windows.

The rotted sheathing guess might be something to look into. We recently did some air sealing and insulation work on our house because it was so leaky. Now that the rest of the house is sealed up better, the poor installation of the foam on the windows is probably one of the leakiest areas of the house. It could be drawing in more air from the window area than before and there could be some rot that we did not know about previously. Any ideas on how to check this out? I am going to try to look behind the insulation below the window that still has some drywall removed, but that will only allow me to see one very small area.

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