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What questions should you ask when selecting a spray foam contractor?

In the past, picking an insulation contractor was simple. Put out several bids and pick the lowest price. Spray Foam is much more complicated. Not all foams are created equal. Not all spray foam companies are equal either. Spray foam is applied by the mixture of multiple chemicals at a high temperature. An inexperienced or careless applicator could spray on the foam too cold causing it to split and/or lose an air seal.

Here are some simple questions to ask your spray foam contractor:

How long has your company been in business?

Most problems with spray foam happen in year 4 or 5. Manufacturer's warranties are for the cost of materials. Many companies have encountered many problems simply because they used foam based on price so they could be the lowest bidder. They go out of business once they are overrun with customers who need them to fix these problems. You want a company that has been in business for a minimum of five years preferably ten. This way you know that your guarantee will be honored should any problems arise.

How long has the applicator that will spray my project worked for you?

Quality spray foam applicators are hard to find. Good companies don't let them go. Run like the wind if the answer is less than a year!

How long has the applicator that will spray my project been spraying foam? How many jobs have they worked on?

A common practice of low price leader insulation contractors is to use cheap labor. This works for conventional insulation but does not work for spray foam. Do you want a doctor to operate on you that has never been in an operation or who is learning from your operation? Spray foam is the same. You could lose all of the energy efficient benefits of spray foam if it is not applied properly. Make sure the technician who will apply the foam for your project has been through training by the manufacturer of the foam. Visit a job site and meet them.

Does you proposal meet all code requirements?

Ask this question when applying foam in an attic or roof system. You want to make sure your project is code approved. We recently sprayed a customer's home whose house burned to the ground from a grease fire. The fire spread rapidly once their cheap spray foam lit up. Had the customer used a quality product the fire would not have spread as quickly and the fire department could have limited the damage. All foam sprayed in an attic assembly must have a fire retardant sprayed on top of it in order to meet code. There are no exceptions.

What foam will you use? When was the last time it was recalled or reformulated?

Spray Foam is like a recipe. Companies try a recipe and use their customers as guinea pigs and then reformulate the recipe to get it right. Let someone else be the test market and only buy a product that has not been recalled or reformulated in the past five years.

How often do you work in this area?

There are many gypsy spray foam contractors that have rigs that travel from state to state looking for large jobs to spray. They win jobs by hiring cheap labor and only taking the larger jobs which they bid low on. They spray and leave and will charge a trip charge to come back and fix a problem. The cost you will save using an out of state contractor will cost you headaches when you need them and it is inconvenient for them to come and fix the problem.

What type of warranty does your product offer? Does this warranty cover materials and labor?

You want a company that backs their work and does not charge you to fix a problem that you did not create. We have been paid to go back and fix warranty problems from subpar contractors who refuse to own up to their mistakes. They blame the manufacturer and the manufacturer blames the applicator. A lifetime warranty is obviously preferred. Who will be responsible for taking care of the warranty and will you get a copy of the warranty. Mistakes happen. Does the company stand behind their product?

What size HVAC system would you recommend? Will your company help in the proper sizing of the HVAC system (new construction)?

You do not want a sick home/building. A sick home/building is caused by the improper sizing of the HVAC system. Only hire an experienced contractor that understands the how the HVAC system works with spray foam. Avoid spray foam contractors that can't answer this question and would prefer to refer you to an HVAC contractor. They are saying they do not know what system is best and are putting the responsibility on you to make sure the system is sized correctly.

Does your company have a contractor's license?

Make sure who you hire has passed the test. Some will tell you they don't need a license. This may be true in some states but do you want to take a risk on a contractor that is unwilling or not knowledgeable enough to get a license?

Can you provide me referrals of customers that had similar work done that are more than 5 years old?

Get referrals. The company should have hundreds of satisfied customers who would be willing to speak well of their company.

What type of equipment do your employees wear when spraying the product?

Quality companies will have OSHA standard fresh air breathing systems for their sprayers. A company that only provides a respirator for their employee is a company that does not care about the health and safety of their employees. If they do not care about their own employees then how do you expect them to care about you?

How soon can you start?

If the answer is right away or less than a week then you should go somewhere else. Beware of the contractor who can start right away. There is a reason they are not busy. A good spray foam contractor will have two or three weeks of work always on the books. A solid contractor will have a list of contractors and architects that refer them work and keep them busy.

Does your company do the work or do you subcontract it out?

Many traditional insulation companies sub out the work. It is important that you deal with the company that will do your work so you are protected.


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