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December 06, 2014

Spray Foam Foray

Have Gun, Will Not Travel
Taking on the perimeter foam sealing of the windows and doors myself, for better or worse.

Got a professional foam gun, and some cans of low-expanding foam, and today I gave it a shot.

This particular job seems straight-forward enough, but could very easily end in disaster.  Foam has a way of getting everywhere, and sticks tenaciously.

I've been wanting to complete this task for some time now, but the temperature has been too low.  Today it got up to 60 degrees, so I dropped other tasks and got to spraying.

This temperature issue has been a real conundrum for me...Painting, sealing, foaming - all should not be done below the minimum temps listed on the cans.  Usually in the 50-60 degree F range. But it is winter now, and I have a LOT of that stuff to do.  Still not sure how to handle it all, but for the next few days I have a window to get as much of it done as possible.

Scrappy lookin' foam.  Do not emulate.
Here is my very first attempt at sealing a window perimeter.  It did not go too well.  But thankfully it also wasn't a disaster.

I took the "Low-Expanding" thing at face value, and filled the gap most of the way.  Well the foam, it turns out, expands quite a bit and was coming out from around the windows in a big way.

Luckily I started with a small window, and had it all taped off well.  I scraped off the overly-oozing foam on a regular basis for about an hour, and cleaned up a bit with acetone.

The next one did not ooze.  Because... this time I under-filled the cavity.  I'll have to go back and top up.

The last one I did was a door, which I almost got right with the foam amounts. Problem with this one is that I forgot about the latch & lock holes in the door frame.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself for a job well done when I noticed foam coming out between the door & the frame. Sorry no pictures - I was in panic mode dealing with that one.  Luckily, the acetone cuts it very well as long as it hasn't cured.  All is well that ends well (whew).

If I hadn't noticed it, I might have a door welded in place to the frame tomorrow.

Plenty more windows & doors on which to refine my technique.  I figure that I'll just about know what I'm doing right about the time I finish up.

For those of you that might one day try this for yourselves, here is a tip I discovered:

Skinny Nozzle
The foam gun came with some skinny plastic extensions for getting in tight spaces Problem is, the depth of the cavity around the windows is much deeper than the inch+ on the nozzle.  And, if you stop foaming for a little while (say... to deal with the mess you created), then the extension nozzle must be cleaned or is ruined. 

I looked around me for an alternative option, and came up with this:

Romex Nozzles
There are a lot of Romex (electrical wiring) casings in the trash.  The electrician already pulled all the copper wire out of them for recycling. ("My drink fund" he called it.)

I pulled the paper sleeves out of the plastic casings, leaving a nice plastic tube in any length needed.  Seconds to make, and plenty to go around; use and toss as necessary.

Apparently I'm not as clever as I thought.  Not 2 days later this tip showing the exact same thing arrived in my inbox from Fine Homebuilding magazine.

I swear I did not see this anywhere else - though I did pretty much adapt a tip I saw online saying to use heat-shrink-tubing similarly.  I thought I had a spin on it, but I'm not alone.

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