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Room to foam: Johnsburg company specializes in spray insulation

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(H. Rick Bamman -hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Active Foam Specialists owner Mike McNish of McHenry sprays foam insulation while working in a Twin Lakes, Wis., home.
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(H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Active Foam Specialists employee Steve Horsfall of Wonder Lake trims foam insulation.
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(H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Active Foam Specialists owner Mike McNish (left) and employee Steve Horsfall trim spray foam insulation in a home.
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(H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Active Foam Specialists owner Mike McNish works in a Twin Lakes, Wis., home.
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(H. Rick Bamman – hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Active Foam Specialists, owner Mike McNish of McHenry.

JOHNSBURG – For Active Foam Specialists, a move toward energy efficiency in the home has kept the phone ringing.

Like the 2009 code before it, the 2012 Energy Code placed tougher efficiency requirements on builders, in the process putting an importance on an airtight house.

Doing business at residential and commercial buildings from McHenry County to the North Shore to Milwaukee, the Johnsburg-based company applies a spray-foam insulation called Icynene. It goes on like pancake batter, then expands to about 100 times its original size.

“I believe that one day we’ll replace fiberglass,” said Kristeen Keyzer, the company’s office manager and estimator. “The new 2012 code is so stringent on air sealing the home.”

Created about 25 years ago, Icynene is a water-blown combination of chemicals that mix in the spray gun, Keyzer said. Active Foam Specialists ships the product in from Canada, and recently received “Silver Dealer Status” from the supplier.

Still, there’s a technique to applying the product. The company brings two 55-gallon tanks of chemicals to each worksite.

“In order to make the foam happen, it has to be perfect,” Keyzer said. “The chemicals have to be coming out of the sprayer at the right ratio, the right temperature. If there’s one more than the other, it will create bad foam.”

Because employees can simply pack everything onto a truck and go, the company has been able to do business within a wide radius.

And after the application of Icynene, Active Foam provides several other services to keep the home airtight.

The “attic tent” and “attic mate” keep air from transferring from the home to the attic through the attic door. The attic tent is a zip-up insulator that seals off air from getting through the attic door.

The attic mate is designed to create an air transfer barrier between the attic and the rest of the home.

The company provides thermal imaging to help troubleshoot areas of lost heat from a home, and they offer removal of existing insulation.

Started by owner Mike McNish in 2002, the company has been making strides ever since.

And with efficiency codes continuing to tighten, that growth should continue.

“It’s definitely gaining popularity,” Keyzer said.

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