SPF Insulation Installation Concerns: Backed by Defensible Data


Henri Fennell, the force behind H.C. Fennell Consulting, sought critical laboratory assistance to enhance his role as a visual assessment expert witness.  In his pursuit, he encountered a series of challenges and opportunities that demanded innovative approaches.

Henri’s quest led him to consult with multiple indoor air laboratories, only to encounter a reluctance to venture beyond the confines of conventionalTO-15 and TO-17 testing methods. The predicament lay in the unconventional nature of the compounds present in SPF (spray polyurethane foam) raw materials and the generatoin of unknown chemistry from the catalytic reaction used to generate SPF These compounds defied the established norms of TO15 or TO17 compound lists typically employed by laboratories.

Further complexity arose from the on-site manufacturing, mixing, and reaction processes, raising questions about the chemical by-products and/or third-party compounds that emerged when exposed to common indoor air contaminants or building materials. The aspiration was to bridge this gap by securing laboratory support that could transcend the ordinary.

Henri aimed to understand the laboratory test results, their implications for clients, and potential exposure risks. Additionally, he sought a method to substantiate his claims with concrete analytical evidence in situations where SPF insulation had been misapplied – either through incorrect chemical processing or improper installation methods. These missteps often culminated in troublesome off-gassing, adversely affecting the well-being of building occupants.

He needed a comprehensive solution that could not only fortify his visual assessments and conclusions about the SPF quality, but also serve as incontrovertible evidence in a legal arena to support his expert witness credentials. Our collaborative laboratory support, coupled with advanced chemical analysis, emerged as the solution, equipping him with the backing essential for delivering chemical information and value to his clients.


Without the establishment of a testing protocol and a comprehensive chemical list, the potential for increased misdiagnosed SPF Insulation cases was large. While SPF insulation offers long-term energy efficiency, misdiagnosis had significant and wide-ranging consequences:

  • Homeowner worries about safety for their families: Many owners have concerns about whether the building is safe to occupy.
  • Unnecessary Removal Costs: Misdiagnosis could lead to the costly removal of properly installed SPF insulation. In cases where other building materials, common contaminates, etc., not insulation chemicals, were causing occupant respiratory problems, this removal would be an unnecessary financial burden for homeowners just trying to improve the energy performance of their residences.
  • Homeowner worries about property values: Without proof of safe indoor air quality, owners worry that they might not be able to sell their homes at a fair market value.
  • Surge in Insurance Claims: Wrongfully accused installers might file additional insurance claims, straining insurance resources and harming the reputation of professionals in the industry.
  • Implications for Consultants: Consultants who relied solely on visual inspections faced potential legal repercussions. Off gassing from uncured foam in inconspicuous corners or concealed areas. Alternatively, removal of the foam without confirmation it is posing a health hazard or the source of symptoms/complaints, may result in no resolution for the owners. Legal actions against such consultants could damage their professional reputation.

Addressing these challenges with a comprehensive testing protocol and a comprehensive chemical list became paramount to protect the interests of property owners, insulation professionals, and individuals susceptible to the adverse effects of SPF insulation misdiagnosis.


Enthalpy’s team diligently researched compounds relevant to various SPF formulations and developed a custom list to complement standard testing methods. Drawing on our extensive experience in indoor air quality, we ensured these markers specifically targeted SPF while minimizing interference from other sources.

We went beyond data collection, providing meaningful interpretations of the results. Our comprehensive VOC test of air samples and foam off-gassing offer a holistic view of the situation, aiding consultants in making informed data and chemistry driven decisions. The ‘SPF Data Summary’ report, born from our efforts, empowers professionals like Henri with clear assessments, enabling them to make decisions regarding causation, health risks, clean-up, removal, and other types of remediation in buildings impacted by SPF insulation concerns.

Our commitment to educating indoor air quality professionals and consultants has yielded tangible benefits for countless families and builders/contractors. By systematically addressing SPF insulation concerns, we’ve played a vital role in curbing the unnecessary disposal of properly applied, fully-cured SPF. Our air testing services not only pinpoint indoor air quality issues but also educate occupants/owners about the origins of various harmful VOCs (from personal care products, cleaning supplies, furniture, coatings, etc.). This knowledge empowers them to safeguard their families’ well-being.

In cases where SPF insulation installation goes awry, our collaborative approach with property owners, builders, and consultants ensures that homes are restored to safe, habitable conditions accommodating both current and future occupants. Even individuals with heightened sensitivities can find relief, sometimes necessitating alternative housing solutions, even following the removal of problematic foam insulation.

During our custom analysis journey, we’ve completed over 50 projects for more than 20 clients. Our findings revealed:

  • In 40% of cases, we detected significant SPF Insulation off-gassing, highlighting potential installation or mixing issues.
  • An additional 10% showed probable concerns that warranted further testing and inspection.
  • In the remaining 50% of projects, there were no SPF Insulation issues, indicating a successful and safe building enclosure.

Our results unquestionably demonstrate our expertise. Allow our team of experts to assist you with your SPF testing requirements.

Additional Information/Project Features

Resources and Links

H.C. Fennell Consulting (Home Page)

Test Method for Spray Polyurethane Foam During and Following Spray Application (US EPA Site)