Nothing's perfect. Not ice cream, not puppies, not Icynene. Here are some of Icynene's areas of concern:
- Landfill additions: Because Icynene is an open-cell foam, it's applied in a thin layer and expands quickly. It's common for a filled area to overflow, and then the extraneous material needs to be sawed off. What do you do with this surplus? If you need your attic insulated, you can toss it into the surrounding cavities, but leftover Icynene is often deposited in landfills.
- Artificial venting: Once again we revisit nooks and crannies. Because the foam fills in everywhere, Icynene can seal a house tightly. This is effective in the prevention of heat transfer but could cause problems in ventilation. We do want some fresh air inside; we just want it there under our own terms. An Icynene-insulated house may need artificial venting, and, in cold weather, that outside air may need to be heated upon entering. Otherwise, you're losing your insulation benefits.
- Unpleasant odors: This is not an issue with the Icynene product itself, but with the installation [source: Dura-Foam]. Icynene Inc. requires its installers to undergo a training program to ensure proper procedures, but in the rare case that something goes awry, a chemical smell could linger.
- Moisture problems: Icynene is a good air barrier, but interior water vapor can still pass through it to the underside of the roof, potentially leading to condensation. Dampness could, over time, be damaging to the structure, so a vapor diffusion retarder is often recommended. These devices are very common in colder climates for slowing down the diffusion of water vapor through insulation. Vapor retarders can be painted on or placed as a physical barrier such as plastic, aluminum, or steel sheets [source: Energy Design Update].
Pluses and minuses, pros and cons -- what's a consumer to do? Your next step could be to compare Icynene to other insulation. In fact, let's do that on the following page.