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Old 11-08-2020, 11:03 AM   #1
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Spray foam option for new Escape

We are a couple of months away from finalizing the build on 5.0. I had the spray foam with insulation firmly on the option list as a no-brainer. But...

I have been reading threads on the gray water leak issues and followed on to read about the difficulty of getting to the components underneath when spray foam is on. I had not appreciated the implications of that until now (due to my own ignorance). Now I am confused on which way to go on the spray foam option.

We live in a place that gets cold (below freezing today, I think). Normally, we'd camp in the cooler locations during the summer and the warmer locations in the winter, but we will certainly encounter into temperatures while camping enough times. As of now, we aren't afraid of cold (we have been on and planning the next post-Covid trip to the high altitude locations in the Everest region in December next year). We are very well equipped for cold, but we will (hopefully ) age more and it will become important in not too distant future.

I saw the pictures of the beautiful work that Ron in BC did to put in his own removable custom foam solution. Really good stuff but way way beyond our abilities. If there were third party solutions along the lines, we could pay for them but self-created ones such as Ron's are not feasible for us in this lifetime.

Any feedback / advice is highly welcome!
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Old 11-08-2020, 11:19 AM   #2
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You are correct, loss of access to the components under the trailer is the trade off for the insulation. It's really a personal choice. With the rash of grey water tank issues I'd be inclined to pass on it on a new trailer.

FWIW I had it on my 5.0TA and had no issues with it.
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Old 11-08-2020, 11:22 AM   #3
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Certainly there have been a number of reported issues with leaking gray tank connections recently. It's always difficult to know whether this is a tiny percentage of all the trailers made, or an indication of a larger problem. We have not had any issues so far with our 5.0 that was built in Dec. 2018 and has the spray foam.

There is no perfect answer - pros and cons both ways. If I were doing it over I would still get the spray foam. There is a 100% chance that we will camp repeatedly in conditions with freezing temps and I like the extra insulation that it provides. There is a hopefully small chance that I could experience a leak in a gray or black tank connection, and if that were to happen it would simply be more difficult, not impossible, to address. Other than the gray and black plumbing there really isn't much under the trailer that gets covered up by the foam and might need to be accessed. On our previous trailer in 15 years I never needed to access anything underneath.

One other factor for me in choosing the spray foam was the insulation and protection that it provides to the fresh tank, especially the small tube from the bottom of the tank that feeds up to the water pump. Without the spray foam it is very exposed and I would think would be the first thing to freeze in very cold temps....with the foam it is well covered and insulated and more protected from road hazards.

On the 5.0 both the gray and black tank drain pipes exit the tanks very close to the dump valves and have only a short amount of pipe. The spray foam covers that up completely, right up to the dump valves - on our old trailer we encountered several situations where we were unable to dump because a gate valve or contents of the pipe right at the valves was frozen.

Here are "before and after" photos so you can see the difference. The "after" photos are our trailer, the "before" photos I took of the showroom model at ETI in Chilliwack. Up close the spray foam is unattractive, but when you are standing back looking at the trailer I find that it is barely noticeable.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Spray foam 2.jpg (86.6 KB, 84 views)
File Type: jpg Spray foam 3.jpg (285.3 KB, 65 views)
File Type: jpg Dump valves 1.jpg (76.1 KB, 53 views)
File Type: jpg Dump valves 2.jpg (251.3 KB, 53 views)
File Type: jpg Spray foam 1.jpg (218.5 KB, 46 views)
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Old 11-08-2020, 11:32 AM   #4
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Here is my thought process on the spray foam.

You already know about the difficulties of working on stuff covered with foam. So there's no need to rehash that nightmare.

Just what R value do you think that thin layer of spray foam is adding to the bottom of the trailer? The R-value of closed-cell foam is R 6.5-7 per inch. The 13k trailer heater will negate that difference easily and if you don't have the heater running, no amount of insulation would make a difference. If getting cold feet from the floor is the issue, a urethane padded carpet runner takes care of that. So the question is - what are you really gaining by adding spray foam over the bottom of the trailer?

Did I mention that spray foam is flammable?

Oh, I would cover the pipes / tubing with foam pipe insulation. Any hardware store has it and it will insulated the pipes without causing the maintenance headache the sprayed stuff does.

So between the headaches of spray foam when doing maintenance / repairs vs the slightly increased insulation factor, I vote for no foam!
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Old 11-08-2020, 11:56 AM   #5
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My 19 is now 5.5 years young. I have had very few issues, and been a fantastic trailer. However, the trailer is now reaching the point where things are needing attention and replacement. Also, doing more aggressive mods now, since I don’t mind drilling holes in the trailer any more for both interior/exterior mods.
I would be very angry if I was dealing with the spray foam on top of trying to do the work necessary to maintain and improve the trailer. I’m not convinced the gains are there with the foam that are worth the aggravation it causes.
Ron, has the right approach if you feel you need foam underneath.
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Old 11-08-2020, 12:33 PM   #6
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Thank you very much for the very thoughtful and serious replies. I had got a fair idea reading the other threads but the responses here help understand it better.

It is still clear as mud (or foam) as to what we ought to do. As the responses here show, there are serious pros and cons either way. We will be in colder environment for sure. Will watch for any other responses and discuss it with my wife before finalizing...

One thing, however, is quite clear. The serious modifications that owners take on here are not in our skillset or priority (in terms of time and effort) - and that's not going to change. If we really need anything modified - it'd have to be done by some third party. We might yield a screwdriver or glue a hook, but that's the extent of our ambition in self modification. So, the difficulty of doing future modifications isn't a factor.

For us, the tradeoff seems to be between the camper floor warmth (low priority) and the protection and insulation of the underbed pipes (very high priority) vs the difficulty of access to the underbed fittings for diagnosis and repair (high priority).
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Old 11-08-2020, 12:41 PM   #7
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Do not forget the foam also keeps the trailer cooler in the summer after driving over the hot roads as well as warmer in the winter. Playing the odds of maybe 100 owners out of maybe 5000 have had recent issues. I would however not forget to mention to your sales person and have them put on the build sheet to insure the drains are properly installed correctly. Also your distance from the factory could play on your decision. At least they are painting it black to make it less noticeable, my 2012 had the fugly orange yellow color right out of the can.
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Old 11-08-2020, 12:53 PM   #8
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I think KAVM's comment says it all for many of us.

"I saw the pictures of the beautiful work that Ron in BC did to put in his own removable custom foam solution. Really good stuff but way way beyond our abilities. If there were third party solutions along the lines, we could pay for them but self-created ones such as Ron's are not feasible for us in this lifetime."

We selected the spray foam simply due to having lived all across Canada and near all three coasts. So being weather wise, with no predictions of where or when we'll be using our rig over the long term, we chose most of the options provided by ETI at the time. Snow-birding south into the States seems a very unlikely option for most Canadians for at least another 2 years.

The second aspect is personal capabilities, both physically and financially. Flexibility prevents me from doing many things under the trailer, and certainly slows me down when queued up at a dump station. There's many things to consider, and this forum will help in deciding - it certainly did with us.


As David mentioned (BTW thanks for the photo's David which clearly illustrate with/without on 5.0TA), evaluating needs, potential usage and risks of a problem (that's why we didn't go stick built), should guide you in determining what you need and can afford.

Like I mentioned...we chose most of the options from dual solar to foam underneath for our 21NE, and no radio or electric awning for the same reasons - evaluated need.
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Old 11-08-2020, 01:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kavm View Post
....
I saw the pictures of the beautiful work that Ron in BC did to put in his own removable custom foam solution. Really good stuff but way way beyond our abilities. If there were third party solutions along the lines, we could pay for them but self-created ones such as Ron's are not feasible for us in this lifetime.

Any feedback / advice is highly welcome!
The highlighted text is what catches my attention and which gives basis for some perhaps twisted 'logic' for your situation ....
  • The existence of foam has been a nuisance for some folks undertaking DIY repairs and/or mods
  • It doesn't sound like you are likely to undertake DIY repairs or mods
  • The existence of foam hasn't precluded repairs when necessary (it just adds a bit to the complication of the task in some situations, and that may mean a bit more cost if the repair is done by a 3rd party)
  • The necessity of a future underlying repair is not a foregone conclusion
  • Based on feedback here foam does predictably have some benefit as an insulation, protection for some components, etc
  • You seem willing / inclined to pay for the foam option in return for some of those benefits

Maybe I mis-judge. Maybe you can see where my 'logic' leads me (pretending to be in your shoes I'd probably go for the predictable benefit and take my chances on the downside which is not insurmountable IF it even arises).

Just for your consideration

I might add that either way you choose to go .... I doubt this will have any really significant impact on the great enjoyment you'll get from your new 5.0 for years to come (don't agonize the 'small' stuff?).
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Old 11-08-2020, 01:25 PM   #10
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Thanks for the kind words about my retro-fit foam install. It was done for a specific purpose, to insulate the walking space under the floor where we typically walk with just socks on.

It doesn't do as much as the factory foam does, such as insulate the water tanks.

So there are pros and cons. It's an individual decision based on perceived needs.

The one thing that I'd like to clear up is the level of difficulty of the project. I've designed some really hard to do projects but this isn't one of them. In fact it's one of the simplest projects to do. The foam is light, easy to handle and cuts with a utility knife. Measurements are easy and forgiving and putting it into position is dead easy. And it can be done leisurely, one piece at a time.

So, if you decide not to go factory foam it is an easy to do option.

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Old 11-08-2020, 02:11 PM   #11
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Even with the foam we needed carpeting/runners on the floor, the floor is still cold as far as we're concerned.
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Old 11-08-2020, 02:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
The highlighted text is what catches my attention and which gives basis for some perhaps twisted 'logic' for your situation ....
  • The existence of foam has been a nuisance for some folks undertaking DIY repairs and/or mods
  • It doesn't sound like you are likely to undertake DIY repairs or mods
  • The existence of foam hasn't precluded repairs when necessary (it just adds a bit to the complication of the task in some situations, and that may mean a bit more cost if the repair is done by a 3rd party)
  • The necessity of a future underlying repair is not a foregone conclusion
  • Based on feedback here foam does predictably have some benefit as an insulation, protection for some components, etc
  • You seem willing / inclined to pay for the foam option in return for some of those benefits

Maybe I mis-judge. Maybe you can see where my 'logic' leads me (pretending to be in your shoes I'd probably go for the predictable benefit and take my chances on the downside which is not insurmountable IF it even arises).

Just for your consideration

I might add that either way you choose to go .... I doubt this will have any really significant impact on the great enjoyment you'll get from your new 5.0 for years to come (don't agonize the 'small' stuff?).
Very well put Alan.

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Old 11-08-2020, 02:35 PM   #13
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I don't have it, but, I would think the spray foam would also help prevent repeated movement of parts that could otherwise become detached over time.
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Old 11-08-2020, 02:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
The highlighted text is what catches my attention and which gives basis for some perhaps twisted 'logic' for your situation ....
  • The existence of foam has been a nuisance for some folks undertaking DIY repairs and/or mods
  • It doesn't sound like you are likely to undertake DIY repairs or mods
  • The existence of foam hasn't precluded repairs when necessary (it just adds a bit to the complication of the task in some situations, and that may mean a bit more cost if the repair is done by a 3rd party)
  • The necessity of a future underlying repair is not a foregone conclusion
  • Based on feedback here foam does predictably have some benefit as an insulation, protection for some components, etc
  • You seem willing / inclined to pay for the foam option in return for some of those benefits

Maybe I mis-judge. Maybe you can see where my 'logic' leads me (pretending to be in your shoes I'd probably go for the predictable benefit and take my chances on the downside which is not insurmountable IF it even arises).

Just for your consideration

I might add that either way you choose to go .... I doubt this will have any really significant impact on the great enjoyment you'll get from your new 5.0 for years to come (don't agonize the 'small' stuff?).
Thank you so much! You captured the considerations (broader and what our personal perspective might be) and trade-offs very well.

We will keep the foam insulation with heat strips in our build and take our chances with repairs, if and when they arise. I am adding cpaharley2008's comments about the instructions on the build sheet. That seems like a good idea.

PS: Our distance to the ETI factory isn't as insurmountable as what someone from Texas or Florida or Ontario might have but but it is still about a thousand miles.
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Old 11-08-2020, 02:53 PM   #15
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We’ve owned 3 FG trailers - 2 without underfloor insulation (Scamp - Casita ) and 1 with underfloor insulation and heat pads ( Escape )
I find no real advantages in having the underfloor insulation that justifies the cost
A good rug on the floor or a pair of warm wool socks would accomplish the same goal at a far lower price
To me , the spray foam looks like an afterthought and has an
unfinished appearance . I coated my underfloor insulation with spray rubberized undercoating in order to conceal the ugly yellow / orange .
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Old 11-08-2020, 02:58 PM   #16
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I think that the real answer is a redesign of the underneath components to include a channel with removeable covers for the utilities. I hope they consider this in the 23. That way you could insulate and have access to the utilities for maintenance as well as have protection for the said items.
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Old 11-08-2020, 03:28 PM   #17
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I'm another 21 owner that added 2" foam board to the underside of my trailer. I originally decided to just encase the outside cross over water lines, but just enclosing them would not allow heat from the trailer to warm them. Instead, I covered most of the floor, built a surround around the pipes that was still open to the floor of the trailer, and painted it all black. I haven't gone through a winter yet with the addition, but feel it is better than just insulating the pipes, and more open to repairs than the spray foam.
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Old 11-18-2020, 11:39 AM   #18
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One thought I had that I do not see addressed here is the longevity of the type of spray foam used by the factory particularly in this mobile on-road application.

Different foams degrade differently over time with some turning to dust in short order which leads to my question:

Anyone specifically know what type of foam the factory option utilizes and therefore the longevity of this foam in this type of mobile application?
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Old 11-18-2020, 04:15 PM   #19
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You say will be camping some in below freezing. Get the foam. I speak from experience having spent months in an Escape in sub freezing conditions. Even down to 30 below F. You can still repair the trailer with the foam, it is just somewhat more trouble. The benefit of the foam is HUGE contrary to some of the reports here. Sounds like most of this no foam advice is coming from fair weather campers if you ask me. If it were me I would offer to pay Escape to take a bunch of photos of the underside before they apply the foam so if any repairs are required you can show the repair man where to "dig".
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Old 11-18-2020, 04:52 PM   #20
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My 21C is in production. I initially wanted the foam then after reading various posts I decided against the foam, however I had ETI install the wiring under the trailer and on/off switches in the trailer so I could install the heating pads (learned that on this Forum), then I'll follow Ron's process for installing foam board. I was an aircraft mechanic so installing the wiring would have been possible, but why go through the aggravation when ETI can do it at the factory. Additionally I saw some other mods people on this Forum have done that will require access to the underside of the trailer and tanks. None of us were born with the knowledge on how to make the many mods that have been done. As Ron said, the foam board is easy. No special tools needed. Just jump in and give it a try. Great way to learn!
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