Is your insulation flood damage-resistantNot your average question, right?  However, if you live in a coastal area like Louisiana, you probably spend plenty of time thinking about —or at least hearing about—flooding.  If you’re a homeowner, you definitely know a little something about your home’s flood rating.  If you don’t know, or can’t remember, it’s probably a good time to call your insurance company and check on that!

Your home’s susceptibility to flooding is important on many levels, insurance and maintenance costs just to name a few.  Did you know that in 2008 FEMA published a bulletin on Flood Damage-Resistant Materials?  It’s Technical Bulletin 2, and it was published in August 2008. Not only does this bulletin classify building materials into 5 categories, it also lists over 100 building materials, classifies them based on the above-mentioned categories, and discusses the use of said materials on a structure.  See the table below :

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As you can see, only materials that meet the specifications of Classes 4 and 5 are suitable for use in areas below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) in  Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). What?!  I know.  I’ll explain it all in a moment.

To understand BFE, you need to know what the base flood is.  The base flood is more commonly known as the “100 year flood,” which is used to determine who needs to purchase flood insurance.  It’s basically a prediction of the worst-case scenario, and it sets the standard for possible flood caution.

The BFE is the height of the base flood, so anything below the height of the base flood (or the BFE) must meet the minimum acceptable standards established by FEMA and the National Army Corps of Engineers. Finally, SFHAs are areas located on the flood map that are noted to be “subject to inundation,” or areas that are more likely to flood.

According to the bulletin acceptable materials are “…any building product [material, component, or system] capable of withstanding direct and prolonged contact with flood waters without sustaining significant damage.”

To further clarify, FEMA defines terms that might be considered vague:

  • “prolonged contact”-72 hours maximum
  • “significant damage”-more than cosmetic damage (cleaning, sanitizing, and/or resurfacing)

In addition to the defining cosmetic damage vs. significant damage, the bulletin specifies that the cost of correcting cosmetic damages must be less than that of repair or replacement of the product.

Why exactly do you need to know all of this? Because closed cell spray foam meets the standards of Class 5 materials as established by FEMA.  Closed cell foam is suitable for interior and exterior uses in floors, walls, and ceilings.