Sprayed Foam Insulation Removal

Spray Foam Insulation

spray foam insulation covering beams and stonework

Over the last twenty or so years, sprayed polyurethane foam (closed or open cell) has been used to provide an consistent, rapid and structurally sound insulation to the undersides of roofs. However, in more recent years, householders have found that when they come to sell, surveyors are unable to assess the wood work of the roof spaces (because the foam is stuck to it) and won't give any guarantee of a roof's quality as a result. The knock on effect of this is that prospective purchasers of the property can't get a mortgage.

spray foam - loft decked out for our works

We can remove the foam, although it needs to be noted than none of the 3 methods we use is without its drawbacks - and all are very messy, particluarly if there is no rooflight / window in the loft - and the only access is through a small hole on a landing. If that is the only way in, it is also the only way in and out for us and the only way out for the foam!

Option 1... Manually hacking it out with hand tools!

It takes a bit of time, but probably makes the least mess because the foam comes out in lumps rather than powder. If the property is inhabited, this is probably the best option. Some surveyors accept a 'less than total' removal of foam- so long as the wood is visible up to the tiles.

Option 2 - Dry Ice Blasting

Dry ice blasting shatters the foam and reduces it to a mixture of lumps and very fine flour like powder. One of the features of dry ice blasting is that the coldness means that condensation forms on freshly cleaned surfaces, and as a result in this instance means that the flour sticks to the cleaned surfaces. It is not a 'dustless system' (which it is typically advertised as) - the foam is the dust, and is copious! It is also quite a bit more expensive than option 3! If there is a membrane between foam and tiles, it will probably survive dry ice blasting.

Option 3 - 'Traditional dry blasting'

Traditional dry grit blasting effectivly shreds the foam,and is significantly faster than dry ice blasting. Yes, there is the disadvantage that abrasive is added to the foam that needs removing from the loft - but a large percentage of this bulk is the foam. All the systems are going to make a mess, and need the debris clearing from the loft afterwards. We wouldn't recommend using traditional dry blasting if there is a membrane below the tiles, because it will get shredded by the blast.