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Considerations and obstacles with sprayed foam in roofs

Spray foam insulation within pitched roofs, lofts or attics has been an method used for many years to help homeowners prevent heat escaping their property. It can be viewed by many homeowners as an easy and simplistic fix, when in fact the installation of spray foam should really be seen as a significant and fundamental alteration to a home that needs careful consideration, understanding and planning.

This lack of clear understanding and consideration has sadly impacted some homeowners when buying, selling or refinancing a property. Concerns by valuation surveyors who are (in some occasions) unable to accurately evaluate roof/attic spaces with sprayed foam applied have in recent years concerned lenders, insurers and wider surveying professionals. This has consequently impacted the valuation of some homes and lead to certain mortgage companies refusing to lend on a property with sprayed foam applied to the roof.

If you are considering applying sprayed foam, the PCA advises homeowners to carry out appropriate suitability checks before installation (see useful checks below). If however, you have sprayed foam already applied in your roof space and you are concerned, there are professionals you can talk to. Click on the button below to find specialist near you. 

Find qualified spray foam assessors >

The hidden problems associated with spray foam insulation in roof spaces

Accurate inspections:
Spray foam creates a thick, continuous layer that completely obscures the underlying roof structure, including trusses, rafters, and sheathing. This makes it very difficult for surveyors to visually inspect the condition of the wood, identify cracks, rot, or other signs of damage. For example, if there is a roof leak behind the spray foam insulation, it many situation it would not be seen.

Trapped moisture and condensation: 
Spray foam, particularly closed-cell varieties, can create a barrier that traps moisture within the roof cavity. This can lead to condensation buildup, especially during cold weather, potentially causing timber rot/decay, mould/mildrew growth, rust and corrosion with metal components and potentially structural issues

Ventilation issues: 
Spray foam's ability to seal air leaks can come at a cost. It can also restrict proper ventilation in the roof space. This lack of airflow can further exacerbate moisture problems and contribute to:

Improper installation: 
Applying spray foam correctly requires trained and certified professionals, as improper installation can significantly increase the risk of problems and cause difficulties for surveyors to evaluate properties. This includes overspraying, use of wrong spray foam types to even the thickness of the foam applied. Improper installation in turn can lead to uncontrolled condensation and damage to the roof.

Removal difficulties: 
Removing spray foam, if necessary, is a complex and expensive process, often requiring specialised equipment and expertise. This can be a major drawback if you need to make repairs or modifications to your roof in the future. 

Checks to consider before considering spray foam insulation

If you are considering applying sprayed foam in your roof space, we recommend you consider the following:

  • Is your roof nearing the end of its lifespan (around 20-25 years). If so, it might be more cost-effective to replace the entire roof system before applying spray foam
  • Is your roof free of leaks, cracks, moisture damage or any other defects?
  • Have you considered the ventilation of your roof space? This is crucial to prevent moisture build up
  • Will existing insulation need to be removed to control condensation risk?
  • Will the spray foam applied require additional materials such as vapour control layers?


Industry groups working together to help homeowners

The Property Care Association (PCA) has been at the forefront to try and alleviate issues for homeowners who are having difficulty selling their homes since issues with spray foam have become publicly known.

In the absence of authoritative guidance describing how surveyors may consider and manage risks associated with spray foam applied to roofs, we have created an industry working group made up of lenders, policyholders and the wider surveying community that has led to the creation of new inspection protocols for valuation surveyors.

We have also been actively promoting information for the professional surveying community to help educate professionals further through webinars, guidance documents and information papers.  This has also been supported by the creation of a new specialist ‘spray foam assessors’ membership category at the PCA to assist homeowners seeking guidance, information and assistance. 

The principal goal of everything mentioned above is to help alleviate the obstacles homeowners encounter when sprayed foam becomes an issue. This work however, is ongoing. The PCA remains committed though to providing good guidance and information that will hopefully in time, alleviate the issues. 

Concerned? Professionals you can talk to…

The newly created PCA membership category of ‘spray foam assessors’ lists surveying professionals that have demonstrated their experience, knowledge and experience. They are also carefully vetted before being awarded membership and are then subjected to rigorous ongoing auditing procedures once admitted to the association.

If you need to consult with one of these specialists, simply run a search using the tool below for a spray foam assessor near you.

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