An investigation into claims made for Airfoam wall insulation have resulted in the Commerce Commission issuing a warning to David Rees, a former director of two companies that marketed the product.

The commission found conduct by Mr Rees, Airfoam Wall Insulation Limited and Airfoam New Zealand Limited was likely to breach the Fair Trading Act.

Mr Rees is a former director of both companies. He remains a shareholder of Airfoam New Zealand. Airfoam Wall Insulation is in liquidation.

In its warning to Mr Rees, the commission stated that claims made about the thermal insulation value and water resistance of Airfoam weren’t backed by evidence. Marketing materials claimed the product had an insulation value of R2.9/100mm and was “hydrophobic” (water resistant) but the commission found that wasn’t the case.

It also found customers weren’t told they needed to get building consent to install Airfoam. The commission said it believed the companies and Mr Rees knew that franchisees of the product were completing work without obtaining the required consents.

The commission is not taking any further action but told Mr Rees it would take this “warning into account if you engage in similar conduct in the future”.

Foam insulation

The Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) has previously raised concerns about foam insulation.

In a 2010 report, it estimated the actual insulation value of urea formaldehdye foam insulation (UFFI) – which has been the most common type of foam insulation – was about 50 percent lower than when measured in a test lab because the product shrinks when installed.

While UFFI still insulates walls, BRANZ found it doesn’t perform as well as bulk insulation. Poor installation can also affect the thermal performance of the product. Retrofitting installation into walls now requires a building consent or specific approval from your local council that a consent is not required.

See the full BRANZ report.