Steve: If your spray foam installer leaves the vents open, he will be committing the 2nd of the 4 problems I described above. You will most likely have comfort and efficiency problems. You may well have condensation problems. You will be spending a lot of money on a product that likely won't perform as it should. Don't let him leave the vents open. If the installer you've chosen doesn't understand this, you may want to choose someone else. https://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=share
Sean, thanks for jumping in and answering John's questions. About choosing the right foam, I intentionally avoided the open cell vs. closed cell foam debate. I did this partly because it's worthy of an article all by itself, but mainly I didn't include it because, despite all the warnings the two sides issue about the other, I've never personally seen a problem caused by using open cell where they should've used closed cell or vice versa. I'm sure things like that happen; I just haven't seen it yet.
SPF insulation applied by professionals is usually described as either a high- or low-pressure foam and is available as either open- or closed-cell. Each type has advantages and disadvantages depending on the application requirements. The comparison chart below can be helpful in explaining or understanding which type of SPF insulation is best suited to a specific application.
The process by which heat energy in the form of light (usually IR unless the substrate is hot enough to glow in the visible range) is emitted more strongly by warm surfaces and absorbed by other materials especially those of low IR reflectivity (think matte black finish). Radiant heat transfer does not require a medium. Foam insulation materials, such as spray foam insulation, are opaque to thermal radiation, like most solid materials.
Spray foam is a very specialized packing material, often required for use in shipping valuable fragile items. Engineered packaging principles are designed to protect sculptures, vases, large fossils, lamp bases, busts, computers, furniture, chandeliers and other objects of unusual shape. By virtue of the liquid foam expanding by up to 30-60 times the volume of its liquid state, it efficiently protects almost any size, form and weight.
In addition, it's difficult for an inexperienced installer to evenly spread the insulation foam over a surface. Miissing spots can leave holes and gaps for cold air to get through. Proceed with this project yourself only if you're doing a small insulation project -- such as installing foam in a crawl space or around your plumbing. Leave larger projects like the attic, basement or garage to the professional insulation contractors. Insulation professionals have the tools, equipment and background knowledge necessary. Moreover, they know how to accurately price insulation, whereas you could inaccurately budget for a DIY project and end up paying significantly more. Don't take the medical, physical or financial risks that come with pursuing this as a DIY project unless you're absolutely certain you have the skills.
Jennifer, I'm not an expert on the health effects of closed cell foam. A lot of people live in houses with closed cell foam and have no health problems from it, at least not short-term, acute problems. I do know of one person who had it removed from her crawl space because she was convinced it caused her dog to get sick, but I know only what she told me.
Spray Foam Existing Wall
I've seen this only once, and it was with closed cell foam, but I've heard of it happening with open cell foam, too. I don't know the details, but I've heard it could result from a bad batch of chemicals, improper mixing, or too high a temperature. Whatever the cause, it's not a good thing. The photo below shows how the spray foam pulled away from the studs. A little bit of uninsulated area like that adds up to a lot of heat loss/gain when the whole house has that problem, as it did here.
How Much To Spray Foam Basement
The United States has adapted to using sprayfoam insulation and a new technology called Wall Injection to retrofit existing wall construction by drilling small holes between wall studs in the structures framing and filling the void with a less aggressive expanding water based foam. This allows existing home and business owners to conserve energy by creating a thermal envelope in their existing structure.