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stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/08/2011 5:05 PM EST

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oily dust, some flaking, and odor
It's been almost a year after Demilec Sealection 500 was sprayed in my attic. We have a finished office built out in part of the attic but about 2/3rd of attic is unfinished.

The unfinished portion (and to a small degree the finished portion) still has the much-discussed very strong sweet irritating odor that makes your throat raw and makes you cough -- I'm more "sore throat/closed sinuses (and then raging sinus infection)" and my assistant is more "cough/bronchitis" from it. Yes, it will irritate the bronchial tubes and cause extra mucus. You can get that from the smell.

I vented the whole attic, finished and unfinished portions, all last fall until the temps really dropped and have had to start venting again even though humidity is very high. If attic windows are closed and the roof vent fan is off, the smell comes right back. I am now closing off the finished portion to vent it separately because I see now that the odor can invade that space and be absorbed. Ick on the half shell.

Next issue, the items stored in the unfinished space over the winter (after I stopped venting) now have an oily fine dust all over them. This dust is not present in the built-out area. Is this dust "safe" or should I not store items in the attic? I am trying to cover everything and keep my kid out of there.

Also, there are flakes of insulation on the items that were stored in the winter, about 6 months after spraying. The attic was vacuumed after spraying before anything was stored so the flakes are new. It is possible that the flakes are from overspray on some of the wood but I can't be sure.

My installer has checked with others and hasn't heard of these problems. As to odor, a family member of his was sensitive to the odor for several months after he sprayed his house but it subsided within a year. Mine has not subsided.

I was wary of the foam so I KEPT the vertical roof vent fan in place, had a pipe extended from the fan to six feet above the attic floor, had it insulated with conventional insulation and keep a plastic bag over the vent pipe with a pillow stuffed into the bottom when I'm not trying to vent the attic. So I can get new air into the attic fairly quickly if I have to but humidity and heat can be a problem in Alabama for a lot of the year.

Is my first step to get an air quality test in the attic or call Demilec? Or both?

I see suggestions on the forum to paint over the insulation to try to stop the smell. Has anyone tried this? Has it worked? What odor abatement has worked, short of removal? Would like for those who've had the problems addressed successfully to write in. I see concerns but not as many reports of fixes. Help.

Many thanks to all.

Mason  

Moderator
Posted: 8/09/2011 8:57 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
First you need to determine what is causing the odor. I have seen sprayfoam that continued to have an odor a year after it was sprayed. If the foam is causing the odor, it may be a small portion of it that is causing it. A thorough inspection by a trained sprayfoam inspector can help determine if it is the foam and provide recommentations for remediation. In the worst case, the foam might need to be removed.

I am not familiar with foam "flaking" so I suspect that is something other than the foam. I would have to see it to know what you are referring to.

Indoor air quality tests can be performed, however, the sprayfoam odors are caused by the catalysts in the foam. It is very difficult to isolate and detect catalyst molecules in air sampling. But, the air sampling might be able to determine if other air quality issues are in play.

You should be in contact with the contractor about this issue. Notify him in writing about the problem and ask for his response in writing. Sprayfoam odors are usually the result of an application error rather than a formula problem. Copy the supplier with the notificiation and request their assistance in determining if it is a sprayfoam problem.

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/09/2011 3:24 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Thank you. I looked on the sprayfoam site for a listing of trained sprayfoam inspectors but didn't see it. Is there a directory?

The flakes are foam. Some "flakes" are chunk-sized and they are big enough to be readily identifiable. I am hoping that they are pieces of overspray or trim falling off the rafters.

I have kept the contractor apprised by email from the start and he's coming back over again to check the odor this week so I have stopped venting for now. He came by in the fall too but thought the odor would abate by now. He hasn't had these problems before so the issues are novel for him.

Will let Demilec know too.

Many, many thanks!

foamdude

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/10/2011 2:58 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
re: flakes,,,
these may be just some of the residual "drift" from the application...this is the stuff that gets out on the frameing members in a light aerosol like pass not really stickin well,,if you brush up on it it flakes off,,could be,,hmm,,
this stuff can be from a light glaze to a light foam pendin on,,,

...build tight,,ventilate right,,,
hey airpro,,,

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/10/2011 10:36 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
That must be the source of the flakes/chunks. If we hadn't thoroughly vacuumed the attic after the foaming, it would have just mixed with the foam debris on the floor and wouldn't have been noticed. It took a few months to loosen and fall. Thanks!

airpro  

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/10/2011 9:46 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Check out the thread from the guy in Portland under ask mason about high humity he also has a smell issue. With sealation and there is a link to a vidio about a sealation customer having smell issues in Florida

Airpro

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/11/2011 9:58 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Thanks, I did see those before I posted. I was wondering if any of the suggestions made to those postings worked to abate the situation.

As an update, I emailed Demilec and got a call the next day. D. is going to interview the installer (a sub of the company I contracted with) and will be arranging for a site visit.

I had an electrician in the attic yesterday moving some wiring and he commented on the odor. Some people have better senses of smell than others but this is bridging that gap.

Will update as the process unfolds for the benefit of others who have problems.

Thanks again.

Mason  

Moderator
Posted: 8/11/2011 1:43 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
There a couple of us independent accredited sprayfoam inspectors, Roger Morrison and myself. Check with SPFA for others. You can contact Roger at Deer Ridge consulting, and me at masonknowles@aol.com

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/11/2011 5:09 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Thanks, Mason. Appreciate it!

foamdude

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 8/12/2011 2:07 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
..,,stinky,,,
good deal on workin wif bid D,,
you will find they are good peeps,,

let us know how things go with the stinky stinky,,
smells are smelly,,,you can never be sure of their origination,,there are so many possiblities that play into the unvented-lid assemblies so it will be interesting to see where this goes,,,
good luck
dude

John P
Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/08/2011 8:09 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Oily dust? Flaking? Sounds like you need some head and shoulders. I've seen SPF do some strange things over the years - I cannot say I have ever seen these types of problems.

In all seriousness, the use of SPF in an unvented attic is the most energy efficient, indoor air quality improvement measure you can implement. I am sorry to hear your experiencing problems like this. Demilec, Icynene, BASF, Dow, Bayer...they all make quality products - In an economy like this they have to, to stay in business.

I've been reading a few blog posts here and there about Demilec. I'm sure everyone has seen the video. I can't figure it out. I've sprayed hundreds of thousands of pounds of Demilec for over 5 years and I have never seen these problems.

But I think I know what is going on....

I think there are a lot of angry ex-employees who have left Demilec (cough cough Bud...) who are using the web to drag the Demilec name through the mud. Frankly, I think its ridiculous. Posting fake blogs from names like "stinkyattic". Really? Little do these people realize that attempting to drag one manufacturers name through the mud drags the whole industry down.

While I am a firm believer that much of what I've been reading lately is made up - I do believe some of it is legitimate. But for some reason the liability always falls on the manufacturer. I would like to take a pole of fellow contractors out there. What percentage of you out there believe that the contractor or the manufacturer is to blame when problems like the fore mentioned occur? I would call it 90/10 (contractor / manufacturer).

If & when issues like this pop up we need to point the finger of blame at the likely source - the crappy contractor. No one wants to talk about how much influence the contractor plays in producing a tech data grade end product.

Manufacturer liability should end at triple ensuring their products are being installed by an authorized contractor who is properly trained. Sure, if they make a jacked up product the manufacturer should step up to the plate. As a community, we need to promote "quality influence" and place it on the contractor and shift it away from the manufacturer. Ultimately, it will drive demand for SPF to high quality contractors and not names like Demilec, Icynene, Dow, etc.

airpro  

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/08/2011 9:42 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
John

My only challenge with your thinking that these are made up problems is that all the cases have been during hot weather or in hot locations if you wanted to bad mouth one manufacture wouldn’t you bring up cases everywhere??

Personally I think these odor problems are a combination of dark colored roofs with high solar gain and less than the needed insulation to control the heat gain through the roof. And with higher attic temps “cooking” (for lack of a better term) the foam causing the smell and or the high humidity these customers are reporting.

The manufacture in question has had a marketing program promoting thinner applications to compete with fiberglass and get higher profits for their contractors. This is why I think they have shown up in these threads, if an R-value of 30+ had been sprayed instead of R-20 or a white roof installed I don’t think there would be these complaints.

Just my take

Airpro

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/08/2011 11:18 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Sorry, I am REAL. I am a single mom whose "hubby" departed when my baby was 13 months old and spent the next 3 years being an SOB in front of the child every chance he got. I used my savings to pay for the installation and foam because it would allow me to avoid putting HVAC into the top floor and buying monthly climate-controlled storage off-site for my business machines. It would save me money in the long run. I am not working to care for my child so the money my ex gives me via the divorce has to stretch. Does that sound real to you yet?

I have only one other time been accused of posting a fraudulent post and that is when my stepd. died when drunk killed her and I posted about how parents should keep their kids off the roads if they are going to buy them alcohol. The parents who buy their kids alcohol accused me of posting a fraudulent post. Talk about insult to injury. So maybe you take it a little easy on the accusations.

Demilec is working with me on the problem. You can call them to confirm. I am a customer of theirs in Vestavia Hills, AL. I can also give you the name of the guy I'm working with there, if you want to PM me. My son has asthma so I can't let this issue with the offgassing go.

And, by the way, I don't think you work for Demilec (which is the easy assumption since you are doubting the veracity of folks who post about problems) because the company was responsive to my first contact. Granted, I haven't heard from the company again but the contractor I used is very ill and I understand that they are waiting on him to be able to work on the issue.

My profession (lawyer) tells me that products that can be applied incorrectly with some ease should not be in production if the manufacturer cannot or will not remedy a poor installation. I understand that even the well-trained guys get it wrong sometimes. Manufacturers know that customer satisfaction with product and installation is what it takes to stay out of class actions, etc. Companies know this. Courts know this. Contractors go out of business and bankrupt too often for consumers to have viable recourse or to be accountable to the manufacturer. Demilec seems at this point to understand that because the rep told me up front that an odor after a year means there is a problem that they need to check out with a site visit. No denial or run-around. Not yet, anyway. I'm really not expecting them to duck this. I understand that it is somewhat easy to do a poor install with foam and it can happen from time to time. I don't know the cause of the problem but that is why the contractor and Demilec will be figuring it out for me.

I have referred a friend to spray foam and she has had the same problems with odor intruding into the bedrooms from the attic a year after her install. She used Icynene. I told her to run a dehumidifier in her attic (no electrical so that didn't work) but instead she had to run her AC to keep the odor down. So she, like me, is using electricity to deal with the stink. My power bill is about $40-$60 during the summer months that I have to run the fans to vent the attic v. a summer month when I don't (did the experiment this summer to see). Note: when I don't vent the attic, I can't use my upstairs at all so it's not a fun experiment.

The product is excellent at what it does. It just isn't always friendly. That is what we are working on.

As for your Head and Shoulders crack, I'm sure Demilec doesn't appreciate that anymore than I do.

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/08/2011 12:23 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Correction -- $40 to $60 MORE for electricity a month for months when I ventilated (sporadic because I have to close up the attic when it rains, which is often in the South East in the summer -- and then I have to run the dehumidifier and the fans inside the attic to keep mold from growing since the windows were open so much).

jimcoler  

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/18/2011 6:50 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Now we're getting somewhere? What is the relative humidity of the air in the area? I've found one or two cases with excess moisture coming in from the basement or floor where they continue to have odors. I suspected that the moisture was the issue but couldn't really verify this because they weren't willing to abate the moisture issue. So, we installed a bath fan to ventilate the space and in seems to be working. Sorry to hear about your problem and I can see how it' can be an issue. I suspect that when you just spray foam in the attic without dealing with the other portions of the house with regards to moisture, you can have a problem.

You need to stop the unwanted moisture from entering the house all together! Keep it from coming in and the smell should reduce!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/18/2011 4:14 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Humidity makes the odor worse, of course, but I have always kept the humidity between 38-45 percent in the attic. It is harder to keep the moisture super low in the summer because i have to put so much fresh-but-damp summer air from outside to keep the place ventilated because it offgasses so much more with the heat. Still, I follow my spray foam contractor's advice and get the humidity back under 50% asap by running the dehu and dumping it out frequently until the humidity is below 50%.

Ventilating in the winter is not as bad because the outside air is so much drier. Not as necessary in the winter either because offgassing slows in cooler temps. Still, now that I am so sensitive to the smell, I have to ventilate it aggressively even in winter and run the small attic fan to change the air before I try to work up there.

I understand that foam should not have an odor, even in humid conditions, so this is an unfortunate outcome.

In terms of the rest of the house, I don't have a basement (slab home) and the other part of the house does not have a moisture problem.

Thanks for your note!

eyjr  

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/18/2011 8:38 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
i would like to know where in southeast you are at maybe i can help.

stinkyattic

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/18/2011 11:24 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Hi, thanks -- I'm in the Birmingham Alabama metro area.

eyjr  

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 10/20/2011 5:18 PM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
sorry im in south georgia thought you might have been close by.

John P

Q&A Forums Registered User
Posted: 11/12/2011 11:23 AM EST

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RE: oily dust, some flaking, and odor
Stinky Attic,

It has been awhile. I've been a little busy.

Ok so you and your friend both opted to install spray foam insulation and both netted the same stinky, oily dust flaking result? And with 2 different manufacturers (Demilec and Icynene). That is a statistical anomaly if I have ever heard of one. Either the both of you decided to hire the two most incompetent SPF contractors in your area or Icynene and Demilec made bad batches of foam at the same time.

As I mentioned, I've been doing this for awhile and I have never seen SPF create oily dust or flake. The odor thing I have seen and was related to off ratio foam.

I will retract my liar comment. I don't know you and don't know what to believe. I am certainly not going to call Demilec to do a background check on you. I just know what I see, what my company produces and what my competitors produce. And its not and never has been what you are describing. Even the old timers that have been in the game for 30+ years can't comment on the problems you and your friend are experiencing.

I guess I am so taken back by this because I am so used to raving happy customers that call me after an install to let me know they had no idea how comfortable their home could be - And how much less they are spending on heating and cooling.

I truly hope the contractor or manufacturer comes to your rescue and makes the wrongs right. I also think you and your friend should play the lottery together.

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