Spray Foam Insulation Creates A Sealed Envelope and Biosecurity Inside a Barn
By Juan Sagarbarria
Biosecurity. By definition, a procedure intended to protect animals or humans against harmful biological agents. This is extremely important for farmers who raise livestock that will ultimately be diverted for consumption. Rightly so, since no member of the vast, ageless group of bacon lovers or those who cannot live without their honey baked ham come Thanksgiving time will want to feast on anything that could have been exposed to any type of disease from which they could later suffer.
While there are many methods to ensure biosecurity—a spray foam insulation application, it turns out, is one way to go about it. A recent SPF application onto two newly constructed barn buildings used to raise pigs and owned by Sager Family Pork LLC in LaRue, Ohio proved just that. Furthermore, the job also entailed applying foam to an office building next to the barns – which brought the total square footage of the job to 135,334 square feet. The job itself consisted of an insulation installation involving open and closed-cell spray polyurethane foam, as well as blown insulation.
For the installation, Sager Family Pork contracted Spray Foam Solutions Inc. (SFS), a company with a well-rounded reputation of being experts in spray foam installations across Middle America. SFS’ Aaron Raber pointed out that opting for spray foam as the method for insulation to control the air quality inside their new barns and facility was a wise move on Sager’s part.
“Spray foam creates a tight air seal: That is essential for raising livestock,” Raber adds. “The high R-value that spray foam provides per foot is second to none.”
Throughout the project, the SFS crew used a Graco Gusmer H20/35 proportioner that was set up with two 250-foot-long PMC hoses. The sprayers wore PPE consisting of coveralls, respirators, boots, and gloves, while those manning the rig or monitoring the application from the outside of the building wore full-face organic cartridge respirators. The barns had good ventilation with five-by-five exhaust fan openings on each ends. The location was remote and encompassed 100 acres of land, so any overspray damage to nearby properties was not a concern.
The entire project would take some time to complete though since SFS was tasked to insulate each building as it was being constructed—and to do this the five-man crew had to embark on a two-and-a-half hour daily drive from Dalton to LaRue. And so, the project involved putting some miles on the truck that hauled the rig containing their spray equipment. When the SFS crew arrived onsite, only the first barn had been constructed.
PHASE ONE: THE GESTATIONAL UNIT
The first unit—designed as a pen gestation barn—was the biggest unit of the buildings to insulate. Given its dimensions—142-feet-long by 375-feet-wide with nine-foot side walls and cathedral ceilings—the SFS crew used a scissor lift to spray-apply the higher areas of the exterior walls and apply insulation on the underside of the roof beyond the rafters. Using a Graco Fusion Clearshot spray gun, the SFS crew applied to the exterior walls two inches of Bayseal CCX, a 2.0 closed-cell spray polyurethane foam made by Covestro that provides high R-value and a seamless air barrier.
Then, the crew switched gears and connected A and B drums of Covestro’s Bayseal OC open-cell spray polyurethane foam to their machine. The use of open-cell, as previously stated, was solely for the sake of biosecurity towards the future pink-colored, oink-noise making residents that will overrun the barns. Raber sheds light on the subject.
“Technically, the open-cell foam applied to the roofline of each of the hog barns was not really for insulation purposes,” says Raber. “Sager installed air filters in their barns with the idea of bringing fresh, clean air into the barn through the attic. The entire attic is used as a duct to draw fresh air for the hogs. If the attic has air leaks, the air coming into the barn cannot be controlled. That’s where the foam comes in – it is simply an air barrier to help with biosecurity.”
The crew applied two inches of open-cell foam to the underside of the roof, followed by an eight-inch application of cellulose blown in the ceiling of the barn. While working in the attic, temperatures would reach the mid-90º, so the sprayers wore cooling vests to work more comfortably. The insulation installation for the first barn ran over just shy of two weeks.
PHASE TWO: THE OFFICE BUILDING
A few days after the first barn’s insulation application, construction was finished on the 50-foot-long by 90-foot-high building that will be used as an office for Sager’s LaRue-based operation. SFS proceeded with the insulation application. The condition of the substrate, which was OSB on the walls and house wrap under the steel roof – same as the barns, was dry and clean so the foam adhered well to the substrate.
The crew applied to the exterior walls two inches of FOAM-LOK 2000-4G, a 2 lb. closed-cell spray polyurethane closed-cell foam formulated by Lapolla; and six inches of Bayseal OC open-cell to the roofline. A greater depth of open-cell foam was added to the roofline to properly seal the envelope since no cellulose was used for this particular building. The office building was completely insulated in two days.
PHASE THREE: THE FARROWING BARN
The last step of the project took more time and effort than anticipated. Although it was a small building at 135 feet high and 284 feet wide, it was actually the most challenging building to insulate for the SFS crew due to the floor’s grating design that had been implemented to that building – meaning that using the scissor lift was not an option. The reason for this is because this was a barn designed for when pigs are farrowing – or giving birth – and a farrowing barn has crates for individual sows, allowing space for the piglets alongside their mother and room for the sow to move around and access her food and water without polluting them. Hence, the grating design.
To circumvent this issue, the SFS crew built scaffolding to properly access the roofline through the rafters and the higher areas of the exterior walls – naturally this constituted greater manual labor than anticipated. In a similar fashion as the first barn, albeit with a new type of closed-cell foam, the crew’s application consisted of two inches of FOAM-LOK 2000-4G closed-cell foam, two inches of Bayseal OC to the roofline, and eight inches of blown insulation. They completed the second barn in 12 days, capping off the project.
According to Raber, the owner of this Sager operation was thrilled with the quality of the application, as well as the indoor air quality benefits that spray foam brought to these buildings, noting that it’ll make his hog raising operation run a lot smoother and the end product will most likely not be compromised. In fact, the owner was so happy with the results that he hired SFS to install spray polyurethane foam to his own home. But that’s another story. •
Photos courtesy of Aaron Raber, Spray Foam Solutions
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