Shrink Wrapping Isn’t Easy—So Here’s How to Fix Holes and Burns
Shrink wrapping your boat is one of the most reliable ways you can protect it from the elements. It keeps out moisture in the form of rain, sleet, and snow, pests such as rodents and bugs, and other dust, dirt, and debris. It conforms to the shape of whatever you’re shrink wrapping, doesn’t get torn by the wind the way a tarp might, and is made from a sturdy material that can withstand a lot. It’s all around a solid solution—but no product is perfect, and sometimes even shrink wrap can break.
Maybe you’ve just been applying a do-it-yourself shrink wrap to your own boat, car, furniture, or whatever other large possessions you’ve been shrink wrapping, and during that process you’ve accidentally punctured the shrink wrap or burned a hole through it with overenthusiastic use of the heat gun. This can happen during novice wraps, and is a reason for hiring professionals to do it instead.
Otherwise, maybe the shrink wrapping job was fine at the time, but you’ve come upon a hole much later. Maybe you used a thin material and a rodent was able to chew through, or maybe the wrap wasn’t designed and executed entirely correctly leading to a failure down the line, or maybe you’ve punctured it on accident while performing some sort of maintenance or transporting the object in question. Accidents happen.
Ideally, you’re able to avoid these situations, but that isn’t always possible. So, to help you out, here’s a rundown of what you should do during a shrink wrapping operation to minimize the risks of burning holes in the material, as well as directions for what to do should you discover a breach in the shrink wrap, whether at the time or later.
Preventing Burn Holes During DIY Shrink Wrapping
Shrink wrap is an ideal solution for safeguarding your property, particularly vehicles such as boats and vintage cars but also a wide variety of large pieces of equipment, from generators to airline jet components. However, for shrink wrap to be at its most effective requires proper application by somebody who knows what they’re doing.
Still, you may have weighed the options and decided that shrink wrapping your own things to try and save money is the best route for you. In that case, you should learn the precautions you need to take in order to prevent holes in your shrink wrap, as these will let in the elements and defeat the purpose of the wrap.
The biggest thing you can do to try and prevent holes is to be aware of fire safety during the shrink wrapping process. Keep in mind that what you’re doing is essentially blasting a high-powered heat gun at a large sheet of plastic, and that overdoing it can result in the plastic catching on fire, burning holes, and falling onto other things that also ignite. As such, be extra careful and take proper precautions.
The first of those precautions should of course be to always keep a fire extinguisher some close at hand whenever you’re using a heat gun. This way, if a fire does start you can quickly put it out before it causes too much damage.
Another important fire safety precaution to take is to never try shrink wrapping in an outdoor space when winds are blowing faster than 10mph. The reason for this is that, if a fire does start, high winds can blow burning pieces of material downwind, igniting other things and creating a more dangerous situation than you’d anticipated that’s harder to control.
When using the heat gun, never linger too long on one spot, or you risk burning a hole there. Instead, be sure to keep the heat gun moving, steadily and evenly heating the shrink wrap. This keeps any one spot from getting hot enough to ignite, as well as making for a smoother, better-fitting shrink wrap. Finally, once you’re done, inspect the shrink wrap for up to 30 minutes to look for hot spots.
Repairing Compromised Shrink Wrap
Of course, precautions aren’t absolute, and you still might end up with some holes in the shrink wrapping material. To keep this from being a long-term problem where elements are allowed into the cover to affect your boat or other object, you should patrol around it and look for holes both right after the shrink wrap and at regular intervals thereafter. If your shrink wrap has a zipper door that you use for maintenance, use those opportunities to inspect the shrink wrap.
If you’ve found a hole in your shrink wrap and need to fix it, you may be tempted to use something like duct tape or masking tape. However, this isn’t the ideal way to patch the hole, and doesn’t create the seal that your shrink wrap gave you in the first place.
Instead, you should use materials specifically made for this purpose.
For smaller holes and tears, use shrink wrapping tape. This tape is made from shrink wrapping material. Simply apply it right over the hole in your shrink wrap. You can then warm it with a heat gun so that the adhesive sticks more firmly and the patch stays in place. Be sure to rub it once you’ve applied it to the affected area and warmed it a bit, to get rid of air bubbles and activate the adhesive. In the end you should see the hole patched almost seamlessly.
Unfortunately, it may not always be a small enough hole for that method to work. You may encounter a larger breach in your shrink wrap, especially if you’ve installed the shrink wrap yourself or had someone do it who wasn’t a qualified professional.
For a larger hole then, you can use a similar strategy, but you’ll need a sheet of shrink wrap. Cut out a section large enough to cover the breach, with an extra two inches of overlap on all sides. This extra material will give you room to secure it to the hole with shrink wrapping tape. Once you’ve done that, you can use a heat gun first to warm the tape and then to evenly heat the patch and shrink it into place.
Of course, all of this can typically be avoided with proper care. The best precaution you can take to protect the integrity of your shrink wrapping material is to have it installed by shrink wrap professionals. If you’re looking for a qualified team of experts to handle shrink wrapping in McHenry, IL and the greater Chicago area, then Unlimited Shrinkwrap is the team you want. With over a decade of hands-on experience, we have the know-how to get your shrink wrap installed right, without holes or burns. Give us a call at 815-759-8944, and we’ll give you the peace of mind of a quality shrink wrap—and unlike an inexperienced shrink wrapper, we won’t set the place on fire!