Warming a Spray Gun in Cold Weather

      When a cold spraygun sends the chill into your bones, what can you do? Suggestions for warming blankets, in-line air heaters, and more. April 20, 2011

So it's finally been cold in our part of the South. I normally do not have an issue with my spray gun being ice cold, but my hand is starting to complain. When I hold it for a several hour spray session, I start getting cramps. Is there such a thing as a spray gun hotplate? Sometimes I sit it by the heater in our main shop, but I have to be careful not to cook the gun. Also, heat and thinners being in close proximity gives me concern. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
Try wrapping an electric heating pad around your spray gun.

From the original questioner:
You are serious, right? Sounds like a good idea to me - thanks. I guess on really bad days I could stuff it in my coveralls.

From contributor R:
Very serious - it works wonders. Years ago I worked in a shop and they had no heat during the winter. I bought an extra large one and wrapped it around my waist (bench sanding, cabinet assembly, etc.), got a 25 foot exterior extension cord, and worked comfortably. The other one I wrapped around my two spray guns, and held it in place with good old duct tape.

From contributor C:
Try finding some hand warmers. I use them in my gloves all the time when I am out in the snow. You just shake them and there is a chemical reaction that makes them heat up.

From contributor S:
I have been testing an inline air heater with AA guns over the past month. The nice thing is the finish is smoother, less compressed air being consumed, and the gun was nice and warm too.

I would not recommend a heating blanket near the gun. Most finishes are still loaded with solvents, which could cause a fire. Remote inline heaters are the way to go to warm the air, increase transfer rates, and smooth out the coating.

From contributor D:
They have oil filled heaters at Lowes for around $30. They have no exposed element, so no cause for concern around flammable finishes.

From contributor S:
Have seen booth fires, and do not recommend them. They cost a lot, including downtime and lives. Look at the power cord when you plug it in. I strongly suggest that we always look and go along with NFPA book 33. That will tell you what is acceptable in the spray booth. All insurance companies go with the NFPA regs.

From contributor R:
The original poster asked how to warm up a spray gun, not how to heat up a booth. Can't you plug something in a plug out of the booth and then place the gun nearby in order to warm it up, or is that a no-no?

From contributor S:
Yes, you can plug a heater in out of the booth, and warm the gun and/or coating. We have done that a lot to get the coating up to temperature, which will reduce the viscosity of the coating down to a more sprayable level.

What started the conversation was having an extension cord with a heater in the booth. Hard to not have a spark in the booth.

From contributor R:
I mentioned that I had two heating pads. One I use to keep my spray gun warm and the other one for bench sanding, cabinet assembly, etc. Neither of them was used anywhere near the spray booth .A 25' extension cord allowed me to do-si-do around the workbench while remaining nice and warm. I use the other heating pad to keep the spray gun warm. The spray gun - not the material. The spray gun has no material in it. It's empty, but it is nice and warm, since aluminum attracts and retains heat real good.

From the original questioner:
I believe the heating pad for the spray gun has merit. I imagine I will actually be entering my spray room with the pad on occasion, to heat my gun. The probability of a spark from a heating pad is not very likely, probably no more so than the pad I use in my bed sparking in. I appreciate people posting concerns for our safety, but realistically if I did everything by the book I would have to close the doors and stay home. While I see many situations around our shop that have a chance for something dangerous happening, I can not see how a heating pad next to a spray gun is any more dangerous than our forced air heater in the main shop. This thing looks like a jet engine sitting on top of a fuel tank. I guess what I'm saying is we all need to use good judgment as much as possible and always try to stack the odds in our favor when dealing with these situations, but sometimes we need to do what gets the job done. Honestly, we have had only a few minimal mistakes that caused any danger in 20 years. Not to say that something could not happen in the next hour. I have found that most of our accidents have been due to operator (people) errors or mistakes, which violated our rules and procedures and also rendered our physical safeguards useless.

From contributor A:
Greetings from Chicago. I've worked in shops without (much) heat. Everybody dressed as if they were working outside. We warmed the pail of material with an electric blanket. There are pail/drum heaters available for about $50.00. If we hadn't done this, there would be no work for the finishers. Shop temp, mid 30's. My advice is to wear gloves, two shirts, two pairs of long johns, two pairs of socks, etc.

From the original questioner:
I am sure working in Chicago temperatures is a lot different than South Georgia. I take my hat off to you guys. It has been in the low 20's here a lot lately and when it's that cold, we do not even go near the spray room. Even in the 40's it feels pretty cold due to the fan wind chill when we start back to spraying. We do bundle up and wear gloves, but the cold creeps into my hand and even gets my shoulder to aching. Cold hands to me means I feel like I am cold all over, same with the feet. I do most of my own spraying, and alternate between the office and paint room, which lets me thaw some, but I am also guilty of not putting on extra clothes when I will not be in the cold too long. I believe keeping the gun warmer will be a big help - going to get a heating pad today.

From contributor S:
One neat idea is to coat your gun with a plastic coating, like what is sold in hardware stories to cover wrenches. We did a couple of guns as we were testing heated compressed air, and the guns got hot. The coating, about 1/8", worked well to keep the hands cool. It would work the same for the cold guns too. It is cheap, and works.

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