Foam Insulation Helps Even in Warm Climes
Already an established building material Up North, TOH introduced it in Key West to keep a project house cool and mold-free.
Key West's streets, never wide-open boulevards, may be destined for further constriction if a technology This Old House helped bring to the island catches on.
On February 3, a large truck pulled into town after a long drive from Naples, Florida, a few hundred miles back on the mainland. Aboard were the ingredient drums and pumping equipment that produce the expanding foam insulation we've used on several Boston-area projects, including Acton, Milton, and Watertown. Also aboard was insulation specialist Bill Fruecht, whose company had been tapped by the insulation company's headquarters as the nearest franchise to Key West. His orders: spread the gospel to your southernmost neighbors.
Making their first impression in town, Bill and his crew tied up traffic on Fleming Street for a short time, as they worked with a passing tractor-trailer to share the street. Soon however, the pumps were running, Bill was in his Tyvek suit, TOH cameraman Steve D'Onofrio was in his, and their sweat was beginning to flow.
As the shoot progressed, city building inspectors dropped by to check out the rapidly expanding foam, as did various passersby. Among them was the owner of a nearby bed-and-breakfast, whose building was the same age as ours—he put in his name as a future customer. So did one of the TOH job's carpenters, who plans to use it in a new house he's building. Homeowner Michael Miller, in his role as architect, is considering specifying it on future jobs.
One thing that caught several people's attention was the way the system insulates the entire building envelope, cutting down on interior condensation, a major cause of indoor air quality problems—through mold and mildew growth—in humid Florida.
Despite the commute, Bill looks forward to more business in Key West. "Most of the buildings down here are uninsulated," he says, "so there are plenty of potential customers. Maybe I'll announce weeks we'll be in town, and we'll knock off a whole bunch of jobs per trip."