Building My House

I have always wanted to build my own house. I am retired now, so I have the time. I found some land, designed a house that would fit the land and my needs and got started. I am doing all the work myself, so progress will be fairly slow. To read this blog from the beginning, start with the oldest archive and read posts from last to first.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

81 Tech Support Visit

It's been awhile, since I've updated the blog. Why so long? This yield problem with the foam, and how to solve it, or whether it can be solved at all is the reason.

After several telephone calls to tech support lamenting my yield problem, and multiple discussions about spray technique, ie gun settings, foam, substrate and air temps, these calls confirmed that I was using correct technique. The next step was to send (at their request and cost) a cartridge of foam back to Soythane for them to test spray. They test sprayed it and reported they got an "overage" on yield; no yield numbers mind you, just an "overage". Okay, the technique is good, the foam is good; so why this yield problem. The only thing left to do was to send me a tech specialist, which they volunteered to do.

I have to commend Soythane for their tech support. We talked on Thursday morning and they said they can have a guy at my house Friday afternoon. Coming from Florida, I'm pretty impressed. He arrives and gives the equipment a cursory inspection and then wants to spray a cartridge himself. He sprays half a cartridge, stops, hands me the gun and says, "you're out of air". Of course I'm baffled because the gun was still spraying when he stopped, not quite as strongly as when he started spraying the cartridge, but still spraying none-the-less. So, now it's time to investigate. Having already looked at the compressor and pronouncing it more than adequate, and having looked over the gun and being satisfied with it, the only thing left in the setup is the hoses. He says they are not big enough diameter hoses to do the job.

Initially, way back when I started the compressor adventure I mentioned that I bought a 5/8" ID garden hose. I used that to spray the first half to two-thirds of my foam. But, then the connection between hose and spray gun started coming loose. I repaired it, but several canisters of foam later, it came loose again. I was very lucky that both times the connection came loose I was standing on the floor changing out canisters. Had it come loose during spraying it might have caused me to fall off the walkboard. Still, everytime the connection came loose the pressurized end of the hose goes whipping all around. Once it whacked me on the back of the leg, leaving a nice bruise. Not initially having any better way to better connect the 5/8 hose to the gun I switched hoses back to my original 3/8" ID airhoses (that did have tight, reliable connections).

So, the tech guy has sprayed half a cartridge on these 3/8 airhoses and said they are too small. I disagree because I had already asked tech support guy #2 (yes they have more than one) what size compressor and airhoses they use at the factory (they use 3/8 airhose there too). So, we start looking at the airhoses, close up. I have two x fifty foot airhoses. The first one is 3/8 ID I know because I had to cut through it and connect a new fitting. But the second airhose has a braided steel liner inside. You can't cut through that one. My tech support visitor looks at it and says it's 1/4 ID, not 3/8. There is one small spot on the hose where the rubber outer liner has worn away exposing the braided steel, and yes, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt, it appears to be 1/4 ID.

So, tech support guy says, there's your problem. Wanting to try to salvage the relationship, he says if I need any more foam they will give me a discount on it. I can't fault the guy or the company. They went way out of their way to help me resolve my problem. I commend them for that.

So, the next day, I convert back to the 5/8 airhose. In previous trips to the store I had a lot of trouble finding connectors to adapt hose size to gun size. I know I spent an hour looking for alternatives. They just didn't have what I needed to get the job done. I go back to the store again to try one more time to get adaptors, and of course, this time everything I need is right there on the shelf. It didn't even take 5 minutes to find a workable solution. Life can be so frustrating this way. So much grief and aggravation could have been avoided if only the adaptors had been available. Or maybe said another way, my lack of experience in spraying foam and solving foam related problems may have caused me to choose an alternative that couldn't work. Really, the main problem was not realizing that the steel braided hose was 1/4 ID.

So, I get all the 5/8 airhose hooked back up and test spray a couple of canisters, being very careful to measure exactly how much yield I get with each canister. I did not get the yield the company advertises, but I think the "underrage" on yield is 15-20%, not the 35% I initially thought it was. I'm not happy with the underrage, but I can live with it. So, I order some more foam. It hasn't arrived yet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

80 Foam Spraying Continues

Well, I've found the part of housebuilding that I hate. Hate might be a little extreme, let's just say I dislike it ...a lot. In that Tyvek suit, sweating myself silly, even if the temp is 80. I don't start spraying until the airtemp reaches 80, which is usually about 9 a.m. By the time I get two cases (12 canisters) sprayed the temp is getting over 90. If the foam temp reaches 92 or 93 I need to be shutting down spraying because the foam will start "exploding" (my term), meaning it expands unpredictably creating big air bubbles, some of those air bubbles pop. It makes for a nasty finished apprearance and I suspect a severly compromised insulation capability.

The first couple of body suits I bought were the cheaper, polypropylene suits. While they breath better than the Tyvek suits, they just don't have the durability. Getting one to last more than one day is tough. The Tyvek suit I'm using is easily 2 weeks old now and still holding up just fine. It just doesn't breath at all, so it feels hotter when wearing it.

Tyvek Suit Tip: When you take it off turn it inside out and hang it up on a hanger. It will dry pretty quick.

Foam Results: I feel like I'm getting about 35% less yield than I should be getting. Or said another way, the foam is going only about 2/3 as far as it should. At this rate I will have to buy more foam to complete the roof. The advertised yield is 200 bd-ft per case (6 canisters). I calculate I'm only getting about 130-135 bd-ft per case. I talked to Soythane and they say that most people get more than the advertised yield, not less.

One possible explanation they suggest, is that since I'm spraying it on metal roofing, it takes extra foam to fill in the "ridges" that occur every 9" of width. I agree it takes extra foam to fill the ridges, but not 35% more foam. So, I drew a cross section out and calculated how much extra to fill up the ridge...4% extra. That's a far piece from 35%.

Soythane has asked me to mark off a known area on a flat surface and spray out one whole canister and measure the yield. I guess I'll do that tomorrow.

Out of my original order of 31 cases I have sprayed 23 and I'm just barely halfway through on the roof. If this yield problem continues it may have been cheaper to hire it sprayed.

Oh well.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

79 Foam - Day 3.5

No, I didn't get any foam sprayed yesterday or today. Sometimes you just need a day off from the heat inside that Tyvek suit. Other days there's other work to get done before you can continue spraying.

Until now I have been doing all my spraying from a ladder. While there are advantages to using a ladder because it is easy to move around, there are also disadvantages. As my metal roof is over 2x4 purlins (that run at right angles to the roof trusses), when you stand on a ladder you can generally only "see" one side of the purlin, the side facing the ridge of the roof. You can't reach the "backside" of the purlin without moving the ladder.

I solved that problem today by setting up stands so I could work from the walkboard instead of the ladder. It's set up with one end higher than the other, such that the walkboard parallels the slope of the roof. Now, as I work my way up the roof, when I reach a purlin I can spray the lower side of the purlin and then inch forward just enough to spray the other (upper) side. I'm thinking this will make for a better appearance and more uniformity in the foam layer.

I should have done it this way all along, but sometimes we opt for an easier, even if less desirable solution. What's that old saying, if you don't have time to do it right, when are you ever going to find time to do it ...over.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

78: Foam - Day Three

Boy, what a difference cooler foam makes. The high today was 90 inside the house. I kept the unused foam canisters in their cardboard box rather than set them on the table and let the fan blow 90 degree air across them. It made a difference as most all day long foam temps stayed 86 to 88 degrees.

The only problematic thing today was it still took what seemed like longer than 45-60 seconds to spray out each canister, but I'm probably counting too fast. Regardless, the foam expanded up nicely, getting about the yield I thought it should be getting.

I've learned to throw my spray sock in cold water before putting it on each time, which makes it much more comfortable (for a little while anyway) when you have to put it back on. I also learned that if you pull the face mask a little bit lower on your face, you can still get a good seal on your face AND your goggles fit much better preventing foam fumes from getting inside the goggles and making your eyes burn. In fact, if you're going to spray DIY foam make sure your goggles and mask can work together effectively. I got lucky and bought Stanley brand goggles at Walmart, which fit much better and have bigger flanges around the outside to better seal out the crud. The cheapo goggles at Lowes have almost no flange at all.

I also learned today that the brass button on the back of the gun that sets the direction of piston travel can get bumped while you move the gun around spraying foam; and if you bump it hard enough you will reverse the direction of the pistons. The symptom you will see is foam stops spraying. Just push the button again (quickly) and the foam won't set up in the mixing tube, you can keep spraying and you won't lose the remaining foam in the canister.

This brass button thing is just another part of the learning curve we all have to go through. Blogging about it, I hope to speed up your results if you choose Soythane.

So, all in all, I have a better opinion of Soythane today than I did yesterday, and my roof is pretty much 1/3 done.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

77: Foam - Day Two

What was so simple yesterday, seemed harder today. I had a long conversation with Soythane technical this morning only to find out that the darker brown color foam of the last couple of canisters was probably not due to moisture in the compressed air, but rather more likely due to the foam reaching it's highest sprayable temp, which I think is 95 degf, but realistically it should be more like 90.

I didn't get as early a start as I would've liked, so by the time I did start I was measuring foam temps up around 92. I sprayed a couple of canisters before lunch and they seemed to take an awfully long time to spray, like two minutes plus. These canisters are supposed to be empty in 45-60 seconds, so I expect the foam temp was the cause of my problems.

So, take a break, eat some lunch, think about what to do. I decided to make a cooling bath for the canisters, but I probably used too much ice in the bath. The water temp measured at 42 degrees, which cools the foam down way too quick and way too much. So, it's warm them back up some, but net result was I seemed to be measuring mid to high 80's which should have sprayed perfectly, only it didn't. Long spray times were still the problem.

Soythane says to shake the canisters to mix the contents before spraying. Maybe I wasn't shaking them enough.

Tomorrow the high is supposed to be mid to high 80's, so maybe that will make for a better day, and I plan to get a much earlier start.

Lessons learned - the head cover you want is called a spray sock, got mine from Lowes. Soythane recommended using Vaseline on any exposed skin, lots cheaper than even Walmart's version of Aquaphor. Oh, and they don't require you install a water separator in your airline.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

76: Houston - We have Foam

Yes, can you believe it, we have foam. After getting the compressor wired in to my circuit breaker panel and getting the regulator plumbed in so I could limit the gun pressure to 100 psi, it came time to turn it on and see if it worked. Sure enough, it did, and boy did it sound sweet, putt-putt-putting along charging up the tank to 170 psi. That was yesterday (Memorial Day).

So, today was let's shoot some foam day. I plugged the gun in to the airline and the atomizer pressure gauge didn't drop at all when I tested the gun. It just sat there rock solid on 40 psi like it was supposed too.

So, in goes canister number one and it sprayed out beautifully, emptying the canister in about 45 seconds, just like it's supposed too. This time I went over all my written checklist items before turning on the foam - tyvek suit on, respirator on, goggles on, hat on, gloves on, temps checked, pressures checked. The foam was 83 degrees sitting in the box - perfect. The substrate (metal roof) was a cool 148 degrees (measured with the laser infrared thermometer). It's been this hot many other days too. A metal roof that hot warms up the inside of the house quite nicely to 105 degrees. Yes, I was sweating freely inside that tyvek suit.

Todays lessons #1 - surgical type nitrile gloves aren't very durable. They tear easily and with your hands being that sweaty the new ones don't go on easily. I had some heavier rubber gloves, but they are a pain too. So, eventually I just put on some leather palm work gloves (cheap from Walmart). They did just fine, and your hands don't get soaking wet inside them, so they go on and off easily.

Lesson #2 - you need a head cover. Though I had goggles, respirator and hat on, there is still too much exposed skin to get foam overspray on. I only did fifteen canisters this afternoon, but that still spotted me up pretty good with foam. So, tomorrow a new tyvek suit with hoody will get used. I talked to a pharmacist at Walmart to ask if they had any "barrier creams" to put on exposed skin (that isn't covered by the hoody). All he could suggest was Aquaphor cream, so I got the Walmart equivalent.

Lesson #3 - I need a water separator. The last canister or three sprayed out slower than the first 12 canisters, like over a minute each. The foam looked a little darker coming out of the gun too. I think it's water that is a byproduct of air compression. Soythane had suggested getting one, so tomorrow morning I will.

Lesson #4 - You want to put a layer of Saran Wrap on the outside of your goggles. After about 4 canisters you will have enough overspray on the goggles that you will want to change out the Saran Wrap. And actually, I used cheap Walmart plastic wrap, not Saran.

All in all, a successful day spraying foam.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

75: Adventure – Part IV

Okay, so how are we going to unload this 600 lb monster without a forklift. Simple, we take it apart and remove one component at a time. The belt guard comes off easily, and weighs maybe 20 lbs. The motor comes off next. It’s about 80 lbs. But that requires me to disconnect all the wires inside the electrical panel. Fortunately, there’s only six wires to remove and I think I can remember where they all go. These first two items are light and I can hand carry them. Now, it’s time for the compressor pump to come off. This thing is BIG and it looks like it’s solid steel. The pulley wheels are about 16” in diameter and about 3” thick. I’ll bet the wheel weighs 100 lbs by itself.

A week or two ago I buried a ½” x 7” lag screw most of the way in a telephone pole in my front yard thinking I would need it eventually. Now, all I had to do was back the truck up to the pole; hook up my homemade block and tackle (see post #68) and hoist away. It’s all I can do to lift it with the block and tackle. Fortunately, my neighbor comes by to help lay it down on the furniture dolly and help me push it into the garage. Now comes the tank. It’s right at 5 ft long and 20 inches in diameter. It’s not as heavy as the compressor, but it’s close and it’s a lot bulkier to maneuver around. The neighbor comes back over and helps me get it off the truck and into the garage. As written here it doesn’t sound too difficult, but all this disassembly, unloading and moving into the garage took about 6 hours.

So, now I’ve got to put it all back together, which wasn’t too hard. The biggest issue in reassembly was having to reinforce the garage roof truss that I would hook the top of the block and tackle too to lift the pump. I did that by wedging a 2x4 vertically under the truss close to where my lift point was. I had forgotten to ask the sales guy how to wire it all up, so I emailed him a picture of the inside of the electrical panel and he told me where to connect up the wires, 10-2 with ground and a 30 amp double breaker.

About $80 later I have wire, breaker, conduit and fittings, so we’re ready to get this thing running. My electrical panel is about 15 feet away from the compressor, so hopefully the wiring will go smoothly.