Anyone else have problems with new "green" insulation?

missyokaJanuary 15, 2013

My DH recently installed certified "green" insulation by Certainteed in our home. We noticed that it smelled like rancid coffee (it even had dark streaks in it), but we thought, hey, it's green, so it must be healthy. (In hindsight, we did find it strange that some bags of insulation smelled much stronger than others.)

Well, my DH decided to immediately rip it out of every crevice of every joist of our home after he had installed it just 5 days prior. It made his nose feel stuffed up, but more problematic it triggered an asthma reaction in me... so severe that I had to move into a neighbour's house until all the stuff had been removed and all the joists vacuumed clean (and this from a man I can't even get to vacuum the house).

I contacted Certainteed who sent a guy who took some samples he said would be tested. But months later I would learn via email(and only after I prompted him to respond)that he did not even test the samples he took from our home, and instead "tested" other unopened bags he picked up from the dealer! Huh?!? My followup email received no further response.

My question is, has anyone used the Certainteed green insulation that smells like burnt coffee? And has anyone had an adverse reaction to it? Or is this just me? Wish they'd tell what they put in that stuff!

So much for me persuading DH to go "green"!

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"Green" only describes certifications the insulation has received from independent agencies that monitor sustainability, etc.

Give us the name and type of the insulation. Certainteed "Sustainable Insulation" is fiberglass made with a plant based binder instead of formaldehyde and has medium brown streaks in it.

If it has a kraft paper facing the petroleum based asphalt coating will smell for a week or two. For many reasons it is best to use unfaced batts with a polyethylene vapor retarder.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 6:29PM
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The insulation we used that gave us so many problems was Certainteed Sustainable Fiber Glass Insulation without kraft backing.

These are UNFACED batts.

Not only was this a costly mistake for us, it really shocked us that something ok'd for California indoor use triggered an asthmatic reaction!

Would love to hear if anyone else has experienced problems with this type of Certainteed insulation!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:40AM
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I realize this is an old thread, but I wondered if there were any more users of this product that could comment if they had the same issues as the OP or not. This brand of insulation is sold for a great price at Lowes and we thought we would give it a chance. However, if it smells bad for a long period of time that would be an issue as we are living in the house.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2014 at 11:41AM
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I'm in the process of installing Certainteed Kraft Faced R30 in my attic. Worked on it about 1 1/2 days & am 3/4 the way finished. When I install it, I wear a dust mask as suggested. However, today I wasn't installing it but went to the attic to put something in storage, of course I wasn't wearing the mask. I immediately noticed a burnt, roasted coffee smell. I assumed some of the new insulation must be too near a heat source- like the back of a can light, hot wires, etc. Even though it's supposed to be fire resistant, I didn't like it. Looked all over the attic for the source w/o any luck. Finally, I sniffed the insulation paper itself in an area w/o anything that would create heat. It was the insulation itself! After a bit of research online, I have found others have similar odors (or even a petroleum smell) it's common. The manufacturer's website says "The smell is a by-product of the manufacturing process that occurs from time to time. Though it may be initially strong, it is not hazardous and will generally dissipate within a few weeks". Another page said it is common when the insulation has recently been manufactured. My insulation has a "born on date" from about a month ago. I can't detect the odor inside my house, none of my family is having breathing issues & nothing is on fire, so I'm no longer worried about it.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2015 at 10:58PM
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Thanks ejg593 for your comments - I appreciated your input.. We gave the product a try -- the non paper faced variety (R20). We found it smelled better than the pink fiberglass insulation we have used in the past, and irritated the skin less too. All in all it was a good product for the money, and given we are living in the house, I was happy it did not provoke breathing or allergy reactions and the smell was almost non-existent.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2015 at 8:21PM
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Wish I had known to read this before today. My husband and I are finishing our basement and the contractor has used Certainteed insulation. Wish I had realized what an awful smell there would be.... I'm fairly sensitive to certain smells and after one night in the house, I have a headache and I'm nauseous.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2015 at 3:19AM
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That is a drag. We used it in December and I found it a lots less bothersome (headachewise) than the pink insulation. Roxul insulation also does not smell, but it costs more. Maybe we got lucky with the Certainteed (or the variety they make in Canada is less noxtious smelling).


    Bookmark   March 17, 2015 at 11:37AM
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