A Feasibility Study on the Use of Foam-in-Place Urethane Insulation in Masonry Cavity Walls
CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING RESEARCH LAB (ARMY) CHAMPAIGN IL
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A thorough survey of manufacturers, system suppliers, and installation contractors of foam products was conducted to determine the physical properties and technical nature of the application. Building codes and standard military and federal specifications were researched to investigate the acceptance of urethane foam insulation in masonry cavity walls. Installation and operating cost estimates were made for the various insulation systems in temperature zones of -20 deg F, 0 deg F, and 20 deg F. This investigation revealed that rigid urethane foam has impressive physical properties. It has an excellent thermal efficiency and a high strength low weight ratio, and its closed cell nature gives it good moisture resistance and stability. Although small-scale ASTM tests give urethane a non-burning rating. Factory Mutual Research Corporation demonstrated that urethane will support combustion when the ignition source is removed. However, Factory Mutual concludes that foamed-in-place urethane that completely fills a wall cavity does not significantly contribute to the fire hazard of a building. Major drawbacks of the application include adverse effects of hot and cold temperatures, moisture, and humidity on foam quality, health and safety problems in installation, and high application costs. Foamed-in-place urethane is not recommended as masonry cavity wall insulation in standard military construction. The disadvantages of the foam outweigh its advantages, particularly since the foam has no economic advantage for such construction.
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