What is a Heat Gun?

Roofing repair tools are essential for a job well done. From hammers to saws completing a job wouldn’t be possible without these tools. One important tool when it comes to maintaining a roof is a heat gun. Yes, you read it correctly. A heat gun. To be honest, it sounds like a weapon from Star Wars but in reality, it’s a tool that can help battle snow. I know, so much less exciting.

What Are Heat Guns?

Heat guns are handheld devices that emit a hot stream of air at a heat of 200-1000°F. Heat guns are constructed with a handle and trigger; similar to a hairdryer. Although these may look similar to a hairdryer it’s not recommended you try and dry your hair with it! Heat guns are considered an essential tool in the roofing repair and reconstruction industry.

How Do Heat Guns Work?

A fan pulls air into the body of the tool and drives it across an electric heating element and out through a nozzle. The tool is used one-handed, with the other hand to hold the stripping tool. Some heat guns can be used sitting on a bench so that two hands are free to use the hot air for other applications.

Basic heat guns have just one heating setting, and one fan speed. More complex models have multiple heat settings and speeds.

Heat Gun Essentials

  • Wattage – commonly from 1000W to 2000W (a measure of the power of the gun). Providing that there are heat and/or airflow controls, the higher the wattage, the better.
  • Main control switch – usually mounted on the front of the pistol grip, and normally a ‘dead man’ switch so that power is switched off when the finger pressure is removed – an ideal safety feature as the heat gun stops if it is accidentally dropped.
  • Temperature setting – at least 500°C is needed for stripping paint – the lower the bottom end of the range the more useful. A choice of controls make the tool more useful.
  • Airflow setting – having variable or more than one speed makes the tool more versatile.
  • Thermal cut out – this will switch off the tool if it becomes overheated. If this occurs, it indicates a fault in the tool or method of use – for safety, the fault must be identified and corrected before the heat gun is again used.
  • Flex length – lengths of 2.5 to 3 m are normally fitted, this means that when using an extension lead, the tool can be used at the full reach without having the socket hanging in mid- air.
  • Hanging hook – useful for storing the tool.
  • Surface stand – this enables the heat gun to be safety ‘rested’ during pauses in the work and after uses. It also allows the gun to be used ‘hands-free’ when two hands are required on the work piece (such as when bending a plastic pipe).1

Nozzles

Most heat guns have a range of nozzles that can be fitted for specific uses, generally these need to be purchased separately. The main types of nozzles are:

  • Reducer nozzle – when you want to concentrate the heat onto a specific area.
  • Reflector nozzle – wraps round a plastic or copper pipe to spread the heat around the pipe surface.
  • Flat nozzle – for spreading the hot air over a wider narrower area.
  • Glass protector nozzle – for use when stripping paint on a window to keep the direct heat off the glass.2

Heat Gun Uses

Heat guns are very versatile tools and have many uses from stripping paint to drying shrink wrap. These are some ways that heat guns can be used:

  • Paint stripping: A heat gun is a great alternative to chemical solvents. It also works faster than solvents which take time to work, and sometimes several treatments is needed.
  • Removing old wallpaper: A heat gun can be used to remove old wallpaper since it can melt the glue, and burn off paper. This is especially useful on old woodchip or highly textured paper with many layers of paint, that are resistant to soaking. Please be very careful doing this as there is an obvious fire risk.
  • Shrink wrapping: Shrink wrapping with a heat gun is so much quicker with a heat gun than using a hair dryer. Be careful though, you will be amazed at just how quickly it works.
  • Thaw frozen pipes: You can thaw frozen pipes by slowly raising the temperature of the pipe. Use caution when doing this because the ice will expand as it thaws.
  • Removing Ice Dams: At Industry Elite Services, we sometimes use heat guns to remove ice dams from homes or businesses.

A heating gun is a great tool to use for DIY repairs and projects. While you do need to exercise caution when using it the uses as listed above are endless.