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Spray foam and building code in Ontario

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  • Spray foam and building code in Ontario

    Good morning everybody,

    I'm trying to air seal my basement headers as they are letting a ton of air inside my furnace room and I was wondering about the building code in Ontario (Toronto).
    At this point, I understand that spray foam insulation is flammable and that it needs to be covered by a thermal barrier.

    My questions are:
    - Where can I find the actual document explaining this?
    - Does this apply to small patches? E.g. small line along the seam of two pieces of wood to seal a gap?
    - Does this kind of product (Fireblock spray foam) change anything to the rules? https://www.homedepot.ca/en/home/p.s...001181677.html

    Thanks!
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  • #2

    Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

    https://www.finehomebuilding.com/201...ing-rim-joists
    Last edited by Mike in Waubaushene; 01-10-2019, 09:39 AM.
    Me: How do you spell “apathy”?
    Reply: Who cares!

    Comment


    • #3

      Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

      The code has this to say about the covering of Foamed Plastics. ...Not Canada Building Code, Not Ontario building code.

      fp.pdf

      also note the interior finishes it references in 9.10.17.10 1) a))

      are:

      plastering
      Gypsum wall board (taped joints)
      plywood
      hardboard
      insulating fibre board
      Particle Board, OSB, or waferboard.
      When someone tells you it can't be done, it's a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

        The relevant sections of the Ontario Building Code are 9.10.17.10 - Protection of Foamed Plastics, which refers to 9.29.4 - 9.29.9 for acceptable barriers (see Chimera's post, but the code spells out exactly how these need to be installed). It also refers to section 3.1.5.12.(2)(e), which you have to read alongside the product you are using because there are different requirements for products with different flame spread ratings.

        In terms of the product you're referencing - you'd be best to reach out to the manufacturer to determine its suitability. It reads more like a firestop than a fire-rated insulation product... firestops prevent the spread of fire via penetrations (like a water pipe or electrical conduit through a wall) but often have a maximum gap width for what they are filling - they react to heat by expanding or solidifying, so are limited in how they can be applied. Steel can be protected with something called intumescent paint which forms a heat-resistive barrier, but that's not something you can use on sprayfoam.

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

          Thanks, this is really helpful!

          Follow-up question; in the article sent by Mike, there is a reference to spray foam no needing to be covered in the rim joist area: "Spray-foam requirements differ from those for rigid foam. As long as your cured spray foam is no thicker than 3-1⁄4 in., the International Residential Code (IRC) allows spray foam at the rimjoist area to be left exposed, without any protective drywall. The relevant provisions can be found in section R314.5.11 of the 2006 IRC and in section R316.5.11 of the 2009 IRC."

          I could not find any reference to this in the document shared above. Does this apply in my case? I'm trying to assess if I need to ban spray foam altogether (even for small areas) and use caulk instead. In my particular case, the space that I'm trying to seal is really oddly shaped (weird structure, pipes and wiring everywhere, hard to reach). Because of that, it would be near impossible for me to do a proper job at covering anything that needs to be.

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

            That article refers to Dow Thermax polyisocyanurate as one not having to be covered as it has its own thermal barrier.
            Rigid foam cut to fit with a caulk seal would stop air flow and give some R value.
            Me: How do you spell “apathy”?
            Reply: Who cares!

            Comment

            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

              I went on the "great stuff" website and they claim that the product is UL listed which means it's been tested to meet the BC for use in fire separations.

              You should be able to leave this product unprotected .... I would still contact my local building department to see what their view is on the matter since if, heaven forbid, there ever is a fire in your house the insurance company will be contacting them to find out if the product was used in an approved manner. Get their answer in writing if possible.

              The trouble that I see is fireblocking is used to block the spread of smoke and flame through a fire separation. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a risk of creating toxic smoke within an area which may still require mechanical protection from ignition. As always the devil is in the details.

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

                Originally posted by dave_k View Post
                I went on the "great stuff" website and they claim that the product is UL listed which means it's been tested to meet the BC for use in fire separations.

                You should be able to leave this product unprotected .... I would still contact my local building department to see what their view is on the matter since if, heaven forbid, there ever is a fire in your house the insurance company will be contacting them to find out if the product was used in an approved manner. Get their answer in writing if possible.

                The trouble that I see is fireblocking is used to block the spread of smoke and flame through a fire separation. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a risk of creating toxic smoke within an area which may still require mechanical protection from ignition. As always the devil is in the details.
                ULC designation is what's required in Canada, generally.

                It doesn't mean the product can be left unprotected, per se. As you say, it's for use in fire separations. Not as standalone fire protection. The difference is entirely in how it's applied. If it's applied to seal small gaps then it may be fine, if it's applied on a surface (say, covering an entire rim joist) or to fill a void then it probably isn't.

                flofloflo , if all you're trying to do is seal small gaps, you could consider a caulk, firestop-type or not.

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

                  Originally posted by dave_k View Post
                  I went on the "great stuff" website and they claim that the product is UL listed which means it's been tested to meet the BC for use in fire separations.

                  You should be able to leave this product unprotected .... I would still contact my local building department to see what their view is on the matter since if, heaven forbid, there ever is a fire in your house the insurance company will be contacting them to find out if the product was used in an approved manner. Get their answer in writing if possible.

                  The trouble that I see is fireblocking is used to block the spread of smoke and flame through a fire separation. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't a risk of creating toxic smoke within an area which may still require mechanical protection from ignition. As always the devil is in the details.
                  ULC designation is what's required in Canada, generally.

                  It doesn't mean the product can be left unprotected, per se. As you say, it's for use in fire separations. Not as standalone fire protection. The difference is entirely in how it's applied. If it's applied to seal small gaps then it may be fine, if it's applied on a surface (say, covering an entire rim joist) or to fill a void then it probably isn't.

                  flofloflo , if all you're trying to do is seal small gaps (1/4" or less), you could consider a caulk, firestop-type or not. If the gaps are larger than that, you could use a foam backer rod to stuff the gaps and cover it with a firestop product to protect it, whether it's caulk or something else

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

                    Thanks!

                    I have done what you suggested for one of the gaps I'm trying to fill:
                    - Backer rod + caulk
                    - A piece of wood to fill the gap + caulk around it.

                    I have to say, I find it surprising that the code tries to enforce the thermal barrier rules for canned foam. I understand the need for it, no-one wants a fast propagating fire at their house.. But it seems to make the product almost irrelevant. Who's going to go through the hassle of drywalling an area after applying a bead of spray foam?

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

                      it's more for new construction - when's the last time you called in an inspector when you applied a bead of spray foam? In localized areas, it's not a big deal - as an overall strategy for a new build or comprehensive reno, it makes sense to protect it if it's being done in a lot of places.

                      Comment

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                      • #12

                        Re: Spray foam and building code in Ontario

                        Absolutely, that’s totally fair.
                        My concern was more about insurance and the fear that they would decline a claim because the house is not up to code in case of fire. Not sure if it’s a valid concern.

                        Either way, I find it interesting to understand how this works and how it should be done right

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