By Ryan Jensen
Although we are entering the end of the winter season, March will certainly bring a few final snow and ice storms to communities across the nation before warmer weather begins to settle in. That’s why contractors working with spray polyurethane foam (SPF) must remain vigilant about keeping the product at the manufacturer’s suggested temperature ranges.
If not stored correctly throughout the entire winter, SPF chemicals that are exposed to temperatures between 20 degrees Fahrenheit and 47 degrees Fahrenheit will freeze. More importantly, the chemical changes viscosity and degrades in a process known as Viscosity Drift. The foam thickens, making it difficult to use and stalling the pumps. Every 18 degree Fahrenheit drop in temperature causes the SPF to double its viscosity.
Once this process occurs, it’s difficult to recover the product. In most cases, it’s simply a loss to the project’s bottom line.
Contractors have tried a variety of ways to protect SPF, and one popular method is the use of band heaters. Perhaps this is because heat bands are less expensive, easier to transport, and less cumbersome to store. However, these high-heat flux-style heaters localize heat, which damages the product and the drum. In addition, band heaters have unreliable thermostats that overheat the product, which impacts the foam ratio, increases density and results in loss coverage by the applicator.
According to the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), low-heat flux blanket-style heaters are the ideal solution. Heat blankets deliver safe, uniform heat to temperature-sensitive products and materials; prevent product waste by maintaining consistent temperatures; use energy efficient technology that saves time and money; and provide accurate and reliable thermostats.
When selecting a heat blanket, it’s important to look for a technology that provides an even heat transfer. This means the temperature is the same across the entire surface of the blanket. There are no hot or cold spots. Digital thermostat controls add an additional layer of protection, enabling contractors to select an optimal temperature.
Customers who hire a contractor to install spray foam insulation do so because they want an effective and cost-efficient way to insulate their homes. It makes sense that these same contractors also want an effective and cost-efficient way to protect their SPF. Although they most cost more, investing in heating blankets instead of heat bands to protect spray foam is a decisions that will pay off both in short -term projects and long term-profits.
Ryan Jensen is director of marketing for PowerBlanket, a manufacturer of heating blankets.