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Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Three years ago, American entomologists published reports describing the termite-related hazards associated with the presence of spray polyurethane-foam insulation within homes. This form of insulation is often referred to simply as “spray-foam insulation,” and it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to typical wall insulation throughout the US. Spray-foam insulation (SFI) is relatively cheap and easy to install within new homes and old homes where original insulation has become warn, ineffective, and in need of replacement. However, SFI may not be the most economical choice in the long run, as numerous urban entomologists, pest control professionals, and inspectors have claimed that the foam hinders their ability to visually detect indoor termite infestations and related wood damage. Therefore, homes containing SFI are vulnerable to termite infestations, as it makes homes next to impossible to inspect, let alone treat.

SFI is applied within crawl spaces, attics and wall voids, which are three indoor areas where termite infestations and associated wood damage is most commonly found. In response to this industry-wide claim on the part of pest control professionals and other experts, the executive director of the Spray Polyurethane-Foam Alliance (SPFA) has claimed that pest control professionals only fail to detect termite infestations within homes containing SFI due to their primitive termite-detection methods. The executive director specifically stated that termite infestations could be effectively detected within SFI homes using acoustic detection devices, microwave devices, infrared monitors, air emission-detectors, and/or termite-sniffing dogs. Since the pest control industry is always interested in adopting more convenient methods of termite-detection within homes, several university and government entomologists had multiple 20 year veterans of the pest control industry inspect an infested basement for termite pests and damage.

One group of pest control professionals were tasked with using typical visual inspection tools to find the termite pests,  while another group relied on the above-mentioned “advanced” inspection tools. With the exception of one moisture meter, which is already a common inspection tool, neither a visual inspection nor an inspection involving the devices led the professionals to the active infestation or damaged wood sites. Also, since subterranean termites thrive in moist conditions, moisture meters may indicate where the pests are most likely located, but a moisture meter alone is not sufficient to detect termite pests. Unsurprisingly, the infestation was rapidly found following the removal of the SFI.

Does your home contain spray-foam insulation?

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