Problems With Icynene Home Insulation

Written by linda richard
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Problems With Icynene Home Insulation
Insulate a new home during construction. (new home image by Greg Pickens from

Icynene is a soft spray foam insulation thought to be a move toward greener living. This insulation has the Energy Star label in an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Icynene advertisements include "quiet" as a byproduct of the insulating effects. New sustainable living and green construction in the U.S. is looking to new products like Icynene for insulation in new homes.

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Icynene is developing a following, and many insulation contractors claim to use Icynene, but products used may not be Icynene. The Materials Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) shows that Icynene insulation is cream-coloured foam the consistency of angel food cake. It may become yellow with sunlight. Two products combine to form the Icynene insulation, and water and carbon dioxide are the foaming agents that comprise much of this open-cell fibre. The Department of Interior observed in an undated report entitled "Environmental Considerations of Building Insulation" for the National Park System that the product introduction to the U.S. was "about four years ago" and that there were about 30 licensed installers at the time of the writing. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports show that Icynene provided an MSDS in November 2008. More contractors may claim to be licensed installers using the product than actually exist.


As with most new products, the cost is high while the product is new. Icynene is an expensive insulation product, but if the properties improve insulation by 50 per cent as claimed, a few years in the house will recoup the cost. Martha's Vineyard Times discusses the extra cost as about £3,250 in 2006, returned in energy savings in six to seven years. Icynene is a member of the voluntary partnership between U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and insulation manufacturers who agree to educate the public on benefits and appropriate insulation levels in exchange for an Energy Star label.


Air exchangers to warm the incoming air in winter are a concern in the Martha's Vineyard Times article. A Texas A&M University report from Randy Nicklas of Icynene, entitled "The System Approach to Thermal Performance--'Control of Condensation and Mold in Buildings'" discusses this as a potential problem. The article recommends proper sizing of the air conditioning unit as a solution to lack of ventilation as a result of a sealed housing envelope.

Other Issues

Since imitations exist, problems resulting from an Icynene installation or an imitator are not easy to establish. A report of mould occurring from a leak in a wall seems disproved by a study referenced in the Texas A&M University article if the reference to research by Dr. David Strauss is correct. Dr. Strauss is a leader in sick building syndrome studies at Texas Tech University. Energy Savers website refers to resistance to water intrusion also. Indications are that the installation process for Icynene is messy and requires cleanup. It also requires a 24-hour wait after installation. Icynene may be prone to infestation by wood-boring insects but is new enough on the market that no data is available.

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