A heat gun is a versatile tool that any do it yourself homeowner should look into owning. A heat gun is a tool that is designed to apply heat in a very directed fashion on a piece of work. You can think of it kind of as a hair dryer on steroids. A heat gun has many applications including; thawing frozen pipes, helping to strip paint and varnish, melting shrink wrap tubing for electronics or hobby work, helping to remove old vinyl color tile, loosing tile or putty, re-melting adhesives, polishing boots, softening caulk, car repairs including vinyl auto tops, melting and bending plastic, working leather, and so on. In this article we will look at the features and options, which are available, and things you should know when you are going to purchase a heat gun.
Like with almost everything else in life, with heat guns, you get what you pay for. You can find heat guns on the market for a cheap as twelve dollars. On the high end you can expect to pay two hundred dollars or more for a professional contractor level heat gun. What is the difference? With a consumer grade model you will give up features, and also length of run time. Consumer grade heat guns are designed to run for a short time and then shut down to go though a cooling cycle. This prevents the gun from over heating but can be a real pain when you are working on a project and haven’t finished it and the gun shuts down. Professional grade heat guns usually have some sort of cooling fan, which keeps the gun running for as long as you need it. Another thing to note about consumer grade guns is that they usually come with very few, if any, accessories.
Which options should you look for in a heat gun?
Begin your heat gun selection by looking at the temperature setting option on the gun. More inexpensive guns only have a two position or three position setting (most often 570 degrees or 1000 degrees). The more expensive guns will have a dial where you can infinitely vary the heat up to around a thousand degrees. The pro level guns offer digital temperature setting where you can precisely set the temperature that you want.
Next take a look at how many amps the gun is rated. The more amps the more heating power you will get out of the gun. I generally look for a gun that is at least 12.5 amps or better.
Lastly look at the accessories that you get with the gun. Some guns come with a nozzle attachment that will allow you to heat frozen pipes in a more even fashion by directing the air around the back of the pipe. Some guns come with a scraper end, which is useful for removing tile. There are also a wide variety of nozzles, which help to redirect the hot air flow from the gun. The nicer gun models come with their own impact resistant case, which is a nice feature to protect your gun from damage when you are transporting it. One last feature you might want to consider is a hands free stand, which will hold your gun to free your hands while you are working on a project.
No matter what heat gun you purchase, remember that heat guns are extremely hot, so you should always use extreme caution when using one. Heat guns need to be respected, as not only can they burn you, but they can also cause fires if used or left carelessly about. Always read and follow all the safety instructions, which come with the unit that you purchase.