Paul and Mary Stowman of Rothsay, Minn., were desperately seeking a solution for their home’s indoor air quality issues. Dean Mahlstedt, an RIA-certified Mold Professional from ProCare Services Inc., helped the Stowmans determine that mold in the basement may have been triggering severe reactions in Mary and their two adult daughters, Hannah and Elsa.

Mahlstedt put Mary and Paul in touch with Peak Spray Foam Insulation, a full-service insulation contractor based in Annandale, Minn., to perform a full insulation analysis. The Peak team collaborated with Matt Kargas of Pure Breathing Solutions, a mold-remediation specialist, to complete the Stowman job. The Peak crew installed spray foam over already installed dimple board and then applied a closed cell, low-VOC spray foam insulation to the structure’s envelope walls. From top to bottom, these measures were performed to help manage the home’s moisture problems.

Due to the home’s vulnerabilities, spray foam was deemed the best option for its air sealing qualities by Peak, short of re-excavation and waterproofing the exterior side of the foundation. The spray foam was applied directly to the dimple board, leaving no air gap on the interior side of the room.

A strong advocate of the benefits of spray foam, Wayne Dearing, Peak Spray Foam’s president and owner, felt this was a sound approach based on the conditions in the house. His team used Ultra-Pure which is a new GreenGuard Gold-certified, low-VOC spray foam insulation from Natural Polymers, which was acquired in 2022 by Owens Corning.

What sets a low-VOC spray foam insulation apart are features, such as Odor Scavenger technology, designed to minimize odors and VOC emissions before, during and after installation. The product’s FlexTemp formulation was designed to deliver consistent performance year-round with a smooth surface texture.


Go the Extra Mile

Once Mahlstedt completed a post remediation verification, Dearing’s crew installed spray foam to attic spaces, basement foundation walls/rim joists and all house exterior walls after another contractor removed the siding and sheathing. The family was moved to an off-site RV during the process. Additionally, the spray foam team took a holistic approach to help this family and even traveled to the Natural Polymers plant for a three-day training on the insulation system, including completing its S.A.F.E educated installer training program for effective installation and product performance.

Communicating constantly with the homeowners, the Peak team then proceeded with extreme care when introducing the spray foam insulation into a home with hypersensitive individuals. First, the requirement for low-VOC emissions led to a novel application strategy. In advance of the project and with the family doctors’ approval, samples of the spray foam were supplied to the family for compatibility with the product. After an extended period without any adverse conditions among the family members, the project advanced.

Since the family had been relocated to a travel trailer in the front yard, timing was essential to quickly install the spray foam and make the home suitable for re-occupancy. Overall, the spray foam was applied in a single day and the exterior wall insulation was completed later with additional insulation products. In 48 hours, the family was able to return to the home. With Peak Spray Foam’s successful whole-house approach, the Stowmans reported no issues.

“I’ve used Ultra-Pure on five or six jobs now, but this family’s related indoor air quality really brought it home for me,” Dearing says. “It’s a tried-and-true part of my insulation arsenal as we assess using the right products for the right applications.”

Receiving Recognition

Dearing was recently honored for the Stowman house project with a 2023 National Industry Excellence Award presented by the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance in Daytona Beach, Florida. The award is presented each year to honor the innovative projects of the organization’s contractor members. Peak Spray Foam’s project was chosen from nearly 100 entries.

“This honor represents our ongoing desire to exceed customer needs with the highest quality services and products available,” Dearing says. “This was demonstrated at the Stowman house through mold remediation by Pure Breathing Solutions and Basement Water Control and the thermal and moisture control provided by the spray foam. After the full remediation, the application of low-VOC spray foam insulation served as a preventative.”

There were several takeaways for spray foam, all of which contributed to their winning edge in the SPFA competition. For example, the Stowmans were able to stay in their home after the installation, which provided significant cost savings of not having to relocate. “We’ve lived here our whole lives and wanted to stay,” Paul says.

Additionally, because Minnesota is in a colder climate (Zone 7), the insulation needed to provide outstanding R-value and air sealing characteristics for long-term energy savings, as well as pass inspection to complete the job. “We notice better room-to-room comfort and balanced humidity already,” Mary says.

Dearing said that with the collaboration of the mold remediation specialists, it feels great to have helped this family stay in their home and to show improvement. “Every installation is important from start to finish,” he says. “The Stowman family was extremely pleased with our services and the above and beyond dedication and attention we showed for their unique circumstance.