Tools and Gear
5 Tips for Cleaning and Maintaining Your Spray Foam Gun
Consider your spray foam truck as a factory on wheels, and therefore, maintain it as you would any other industrial facility.
Regular Maintenance Minimizes Downtime
The benefits of spray foam insulation in residential housing are numerous, however application requires much more skill and training than traditional fiberglass batts or blown cellulite.
In the past, specialized contractors have dominated the market, but as demand grows, more and more general contractors are investing in equipment.
Each product sprayed requires its own particular setup, but there are some best practices in maintenance that this class of products share. According to Ken Wells of Elite Insulation & PolyPro LLC in Broadway, Virginia, neglecting rig maintenance leads quickly to inoperable equipment, expensive repairs and down time for the crew.
Keep Your Rig Organized
Establishing the habit of returning your rig to a clean and organized state at the end of each day provides a valuable chance to survey your equipment, according to Wells. The time spent focusing your attention on the rig can reveal issues as they arise—and before they become problems.
Keep Up Your Work Logs
Many good reasons exist for maintaining detailed daily logs, but despite that, Wells says they get skipped too often. When something goes wrong, however, they can be invaluable. Information about the location of the job, the sprayer that day, and humidity and temperature during the day, as well as quantities of materials applied and how long the equipment was running, can all help diagnose a problem. If there is a claim, the manufacturer may ask for lot numbers, application temperatures, core samples and density checks.
On the positive side, logs provide information you can use to control costs and quality and estimate jobs more accurately.
Weekly Maintenance Checks
Various parts of the system have the potential to clog or thicken, according to Wells. Check the Y-strainer filters each week to be sure nothing is obstructing them, as well as the status of the throat seal liquid (both the level and the viscosity), and that it moves through the wet cup and back to the reservoir properly.
Don’t Forget the O-Rings
The spray gun is the epicenter of the application process. With a collection of moving parts that can wear or be fouled, it needs regular attention. Wells advises paying particular attention to the O-rings that seal the fluid-handling portions of the equipment. They are prone to wear and can easily be damaged, causing a variety of issues that can result in a shut down. Both moisture entering the line or premature mixing of chemicals lead to expensive repairs.
Safety and Emergency Equipment
Another area that can easily be neglected, according to Wells, is the safety and emergency equipment. Check the expiration dates on fire extinguishers, as well as that eye-wash stations operate properly, first-aid kits are complete and roadside emergency signs and flares are stocked.
Most importantly, Wells advises maintaining the knowledge base of your people. Training your on-site crew for troubleshooting and mechanical procedures keeps downtime to a minimum and prevents losses.
Many of the parts on the rig and in the spray guns are delicate and expensive. Wells says improperly handling these parts during maintenance can easily cost you thousands in just a few seconds. It’s important for those working with the equipment to learn the proper cleaning agents and procedures for each part.
In Summary: Start a Maintenance Routine
Dedicating a little time daily and a block of time either weekly or bi-weekly can save you a lot of time and money in the long run by keeping your spray foam rig operating smoothly. Just remember, your on-site people are the key to profitability, so invest in training them properly and that they understand the importance of following your maintenance and record-keeping procedures precisely.
About the Expert:
Ken Wells is a co-owner of Elite Insulation & PolyPro LLC, a full service insulation and geotechnical polyurethane concrete lifting company. He has worked in the insulation industry for more than 23 years at all capacities, from installer to salesman, manager, and finally owner for the past 13 years. He holds certifications as SPFA PCP Master Installer, SPFA PCP Project Manager and SPFA PCP Field Examiner, and serves on the board of directors of SPFA and SFWW. Elite Insulation & PolyPro LLC, has won 6 SPFA National Industry Excellence Awards. Wells has appeared in Spray Foam Magazine, Spray Foam Professional, Urethanes Technology International, The Construction Specifier and Retrofit.
About the Author:
Craig Gustafson is a writer and editor based on the East Side of St. Paul, Minnesota. He spent several formative years working on a construction crew and enjoys home-improvement projects of many types. His family has recently purchased a small property in Northern Wisconsin with a shell standing on it, which they look