UFFI, what is it anyway?
UFFI stands for Urea Formaldehyde Foam Insulation. UFFI was commonly used as a “retrofit” insulation on existing houses. The foam was injected behind walls and in areas where installing other forms of insulation wasn’t practical. UFFI was most commonly used in the 70s. This was the period of the “Energy Crisis”, which was triggered by the OPEC oil embargo.
Between 1975 and 1978, the government implemented a program known as Canadian Home Insulation Program (CHIP), which offered financial incentives to homeowners to increase the insulation levels for their homes.
As a result of perceived health problems associated with UFFI, the insulation was banned by the Canadian government in 1980. UFFI remains a commonly used building product in Europe.
Due to this discovery, the fears of serious health risks began to have a declining impact on the value of real estate. This, coupled with the costs associated with remediation, in some cases, created a long term stigma attached to homes with known UFFI. It is important for both Sellers and Buyers to now educated themselves on this material.
Many studies have knowns that UFFI no longer poses any immediate threat to health. Houses that were built with this material are said to show no higher levels of formaldehyde than those without it. However, if it comes into contact with water or moisture it can being to break down and a specialist should be contacted to repair and remove.
Since 1993 a UFFI declaration was no longer required for mortgage insurance under the National Housing Act. However, a declaration is still required as part of your real estate listing and agreement of purchase and sale. It is also important to note that insurance companies cannot refuse (legally) to insure a home with UFFI though some providers will still not cover you. So make sure you disclose, and, ask the question(s)!
For more up to date information, here’s UFFI, in the news.