Why 75 degrees is NOT effective for measuring R-value performance

By: John Cowan, Regional Sales Manager

Cowan 75 Degrees

Are you curious why 75 degrees is used as the temperature for measuring R-Value insulation levels? Were you aware of this standard? You may be thinking no one cares. If you are a building owner paying  the bill, you should care. Let’s look at roofing insulation.

The FTC mandates that each products R-Value is tested at  75 degrees and will be the standard design criteria for residential construction. This standard is part of the building code and energy code which also encompasses commercial standards.

Let’s take a quick look at Polyiso rigid insulation. Polyiso accounts for approximately 2/3 of all the insulation used in commercial roof construction. For starters, Polyiso has had declining published R-Values for years. This is due in part to changing the blowing agents used in the manufacturing process over the last 20 years. The design R-Values, LTTR aged R-Values, and recommended “in service R-Values” are all different.

These R-Values will vary from R-6 per inch to R-4.5 per inch for a 50 year LTTR . The NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association) has recommended using an R-Value of R-5 per inch of thickness in all climate zones when specifying Polyiso (Tech Bulletin 3001). There are numerous  commercial structures where the design R-Value used for Polyiso was R-6 per inch of thickness and higher.  If the standard used is the  R-Value at 75 degrees for all products, what difference does it make what the actual climate may be like?

It does matter. Polyiso and Expanded Polystyrene behave differently at temperature extremes. For example, Polyiso actually loses R-Value as the temperature drops. At 75 degrees, the R-Value will be approximately 5.6 per inch. As the temperature drops to 40 degrees, so does the R-Value. It is now R-5.0 per inch. As it continues to get colder the R-Value continues to drop. At 25 degrees it dips to R-4.5 per inch. The highest R-Value for Polyiso is at 75 degrees, when you least need to condition the space (Tech Bulletin 3016).

Not only is Polyiso losing R-Value due to aging and out gassing, it also loses R-Value when you most need it, as the temperature drops.  Expanded Polystyrene on the other hand is predictable. Not only is expanded polystyrene stable, it does not out gas or lose R-Value over a period of time. The R-Value actually increases as the temperature drops. At 75 degrees Foam-Control® PLUS+® 150 has an R-Value of 4.2 per inch. At 40 degrees, the R-Value increases to 4.6 per inch. At 25 degrees it is 4.8 per inch (Tech Bulletin 3016). Foam-Control® PLUS+® 150  out  performs Polyiso. It is more prudent to use R-Values measured at temperature extremes and not at 75 degrees.

When designing and specifying insulation for commercial roofing,  Expanded Polystyrene should clearly be the preferred choice.

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Specifications – Are they important?

By: Dale Mullikin, Regional Sales Manger

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Architects, engineers, and contractors all agree that specifications are really important. Specifications are written by architects and engineers to make sure the project is built with appropriate materials and provide details for specific use of products. Contractors use specifications to guide them through the bid process and actual construction of the building.

Reality at the jobsite can be different from the specification and that causes confusion and change orders. So correct specifications are really important on any project. As a material supplier, ACH Foam Technologies looks at hundreds of specifications every week, and the main issues for suppliers are incomplete or incorrect specifications.

I recently looked at a specification that listed geofoam as the desired product. The specification went on to include information for two completely different products, one of which was not geofoam. Contractors are sometimes confused and normally rushed to meet a bid date, so when they ask for guidance from suppliers, many suppliers do not even look at specifications but depend on the contractor for information. This leads to wrong materials showing up at the jobsite that are not what the architect or engineer intended. Who loses? The owner loses! The material is on site or even installed before anyone realizes it, or even worse, no one even catches the mistake at all.

How can this be solved? Architects and engineers need to find material suppliers that meet their criteria for a quality product and ask for help with writing the specification. They also need to ask for specific submittals. In one specific instance a submittal paragraph asked only for shop drawings. How does the architect or engineer know they received the material they specified? It doesn’t stop there. Architects and engineers need to ask for third-party certification to make sure the material meets their minimum requirements. It must be clear that providing documentation is very important in the submittal process. Providing brochures and tech data sheets is not assurance that a material supplier has third-party certification.

It would be easy for the architect or engineer to say, “I wrote the specification and if the contractor doesn’t provide the correct material then that absolves my liability.” Again, who really loses? The owner loses because the material is not performing to specification. Sure there can be ramifications but all that costs money. Why not solve this problem before it becomes a problem?

ACH Foam Technologies is ready and willing to help in this process. We will help you make sure, when specifying our products, that you choose the appropriate material for your project. We will also guide you with developing the correct submittals. While this is not a complicated process, it can help any designer or contractor avoid having to tell the owner that the wrong material is on a project.

Specifications are important! Incorrect, misunderstood, or incomplete specifications can cause more headaches than you can imagine. So if you are specifying geofoam or insulation for a roof, wall, or below grade application, contact ACH Foam Technologies and we will guide you to the right product for your next project.

Posted in Below-Grade Insulation, Sheathing & Wall Applications, Geofoam, Perimeter & Below-Grade Insulation, Roof Insulation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Behind the Scenes at ACH Foam Technologies, Kansas City

By: Chris Benson, Packaging Specialist

There are many employees that make ACH Foam Technologies function. The following employees in Kansas City help ACH run on a day to day basis and are usually behind the scenes ensuring your orders Industrial/OEM DuraTherm® products are processed and manufactured correctly.

Brandon Rhoads blog pictureBrandon Rhoads – Kansas City 3rd St Plant, Production Manager

Brandon is a seasoned veteran in the ACH Foam ranks and is the production manager for ACH’s 3rd St fabrication facility in Kansas City. Brandon oversees scheduling and production for the plant. Anytime there is a rush order or a hot sample request, Brandon is the man that makes it happen!

Sean Thomas blog pictureSean Thomas – Kansas City 3rd St Plant, Production Supervisor

Sean, besides being Brandon’s right hand man, oversees the production on the floor, keeping the foam cutting lines running smoothly and ensuring products are manufactured correctly. He will tell you all he does is cut samples for the author off this blog post! Sean is a team player as long as donuts are involved!

Mike Dunsmore blog pictureMike Dunsmore – Industrial Products Design and Sales Support

Mike is our packaging/oem design guru. He has been with ACH only a little while, but brings packaging knowledge and a fresh set of ideas to ACH Foam. Learning everyday about the all the foam types is quite a task. Designing packaging concepts utilizing expanded polystyrene (EPS), Arcel, Neopor, expanded polyethylene (EPE) and other foam types can be difficult as each has it’s own nuances. Mike has been up to the task in designing packaging concepts that ensure your products arrive in perfect condition.

Tyra Cobbins blog pictureTyra Cobbins – Customer Service/ Order entry

Tyra has many roles, from entering orders to handling issues that arise, she is a very important employee within the ACH team. She communicates daily with everyone listed in this post along with other employees to ensure we meet the customer’s expectations and deadline on orders. Communication is key in Tyra’s role and she is always on top of orders and what needs to happen.

Shawn Allen blog pictureShawn Allen – Inside Sales Support/Industrial Products

As with everyone else listed, Shawn wears many hats within ACH Foam. Quoting, customer service, sales, mediator between sales staff and production, helping on design, keeping sales staff in line, she does it all! With over 15 years of experience, her industry knowledge and insight on DuraTherm® products are unmatched. A true team player in every aspect, Shawn is an integral part of the ACH Foam team.

There are so many employees, from production to other inside personnel not listed. I have to keep this somewhat short as it is a blog, not a novel. Thank you to all the amazing ACH Foam employees that do such a great job!

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Problem: Compressible Building-Site Soils / Solution: Foam-Control® Geofoam

By: Pat Austin, Sales Representative

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When a potential building site is evaluated for its suitability to a proposed construction project, the load-bearing capacity of the soil supporting the structure is a major concern.  Geotechnical engineers are often consulted to evaluate the site and generate conclusions based on their testing.  Frequently, this testing reveals that the site cannot support the proposed construction without enhancement – meaning that mitigation must be undergone to reduce the impact of the structure on the underlying subsoils.

One method of mitigating the effects of proposed construction on a site’s subsoil is by excavating and replacing a volume of fill material with Foam-Control® Geofoam.  Because geofoam can offer a wide range of compressive strengths, at a weight of approximately 1% of the excavated material, a tremendous strength-to-weight improvement can be realized.  The loading of the subsoils left after excavation can be greatly lessened, if not eliminated completely, by replacing potential overburden with Foam-Control® Geofoam.

There are other advantages to implementing geofoam in compressible-soil mitigation projects:

  • No compaction is required of the geofoam fill, construction can occur immediately upon completion of fill placement
  • Geofoam can be placed in sub-freezing temperatures
  • Predictable strength – grades are available which offer a range of 320-2,680 psf compressive resistance
  • Ease of installation – geofoam can be placed quickly, modified easily, and requires minimal heavy equipment

These factors combine to make geofoam a preferred solution for compressible building-site soils.

Give Foam-Control® Geofoam the opportunity to lighten the load on your next building project.  Contact your ACH Foam Technologies’ regional representative for a quote and put geofoam to work for you.

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New: DuraTherm® GPS (Graphite Polystyrene) Packaging

By: Greg Aron, Regional Sales Manager

DuraTherm GPS Cooler 2

ACH Foam Technologies’ DuraTherm® GPS (graphite polystyrene) offers the same benefits of DuraTherm® EPS with the added ability to reduce material thicknesses by up to 20% while maintaining the same thermal performance.  DuraTherm® GPS is comprised of many small pockets of air within a polymer matrix containing graphite. The graphite reflects radiant heat energy like a mirror, increasing the material’s resistance to the flow of heat, or R-value.

In addition, DuraTherm® GPS is a strikingly sharp, beautiful silver/grey color and can be beneficial in reusable packaging and OEM applications that require the use of colored material.  DuraTherm® GPS can be block molded, shape molded, and fabricated in the same manner as DuraTherm® EPS and is available at ACH Foam Technologies plants nationwide.

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