Refrigeration Insulation Spray Foam

Sabre did a pretty good job with the ice box insulation, but at less than 3″ all the way around, I wanted more.  I looked into removing the counter top and adding Dow blue board.  Too much work to complete,  and I was afraid that I would’t be able to keep the teak and counter looking original.  I needed a different option.

I have read a lot about people adding one part foam (Great Stuff spray foam) to the icebox without much success.  The issue with using this product is that it’s not a closed cell foam.  After sitting in a marine environment for awhile, this foam will soak up moister and lose all it’s R-value.

After searching the internet for other options, I came across Dow’s Handi-Foam Slow Rise pour in place.  It’s a true closed cell foam, low pressure (won’t bow out the surrounding  cabinets), and is formulated for filling cavities just like I have.  Here is their list of uses:

Ideal Applications for Handi- Flow Pour In Place

  • Filling and Insulating Uninsulated Wall Cavities (R-21+ in a 2 x 4 stud wall)
  • Repairing/Replace Boat Hull Insulation/Flotation
  • Fill and Insulate Concrete Block Walls
  • Insulating Cooler walls and doors, Cold Storage facilities
  • Repair and Replace insulation for Hot Tubs and Spas.
  • Soundproofing large resonant cavities, ducts and pipes and walls.
  • Injection Molding of custom shapes, architectural pieces etc
  • Filling Pontoons for buoyancy control.

This sounded like just the stuff I needed.  Unfortunately, the smallest size I could buy was 100 board feet.  After doing some quick math in my head I thought I would use a lot less than half.  Hey, for the $300 buck shipped, I should be able to sell the remaining for a few bucks!

I needed to wait for a 75 degree day to give this a shot and  unfortunately, this took about 5 weeks before the right day came along.  On a perfect Sunday in October, we were able to finally do this project and check it off our to-do list.

I first started by inverting a piece of plastic gutter over the top of all the wires and hoses that run under the fridge.  I knew one day they would need to be replaced, and I needed a way to still get through this area.

I then added a layer of reflex foil insulation to hull to help eliminate conductive heat from coming through the hull.

Now comes the fun part…. drilling into my perfectly good fiberglass fridge and teak 🙁

I drilled about 9 holes on each side to mask sure there were no voids in the foam.  On one side I was able to drill into the settee’s back instead of having to remove the evaporating unit and drill from the other side.

I added a 1/4″ tube to the spray foam nozzle so it could get further depth into each hole.

The spraying of the foam actually only took about 3 minutes.  I started in the lower hole and filled it until the fluid started to push out the other holes.  It worked great and filled all cavities.

I still have to finish off the holes I drilled and paint the inside of the fridge, but everything else worked better than expected.

Things that went wrong:

1) The conduit (plastic gutter) that I used still got foam in it.  I should have taped this down, but it was easy enough to get the rest of the foam out.

2) I used a lot more than I thought.  The tank weighted 27 pounds when I got it, and after it was used, it was down to just 14 pounds.  With the weight of the tanks, and everything else figured in, I probably used most of the foam in the tank.

3) Plug each hole that you drill… and don’t forget where you drilled exploratory holes.

Here is a chunk of a broken off foam to show what it looks like.

16 thoughts on “Refrigeration Insulation Spray Foam

  1. I’m getting ready to do just this project…great article and pics. When did you do this, and have you learned anything else that I should know before I start?

  2. Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the great details of your work on adding Slow Rise. I have insulation problems with my refrigerator, because I believe it is dried out and some of it may be wet. Before I add some foam, i certainly will dry it out. But can you tell me about your voids a little bit more. You mentioned that you drilled the holes to make sure you had no voids. However, did you find any or did you spray the foam into all of the drilled holes and the existing foam was partially pushed out of the way by the Slow Rise? My foam seems to be dried out and I wonder if it would be compressed by the Slow Rise, but I am not sure about that. When I have dug some out, part of it will crumble, but other parts will stay together and only gets compressed to a certain extend. Could you give me a little bit of advise with respect to your experience concerning the existing foam in your insulation, so I can make a decision on how to proceed.
    Presently, we are located in Miami Beach and plan to sail to the Bahamas, when the refrig is fixed.
    Thank you in advance, Henk

  3. Pingback: Spray Foam Insulation – V-berth & Forward Salon | Matt & Jessica's Sailing Page

  4. we are trying to insulate a steel constructed box that will have food and dry ice inside will this hold up to the extreme cold and is it food safe? Is it easy to install? Is there a coating to apply ?I guess I am trying to get to a ice finish and look, waiting on your response.

  5. Although the spray foam is easy to install and hardens instantly, it looks as if the project you’re planning on doing would be best off with insulation in sheet form instead of a spray foam.

  6. I read this with great interest because we have a 1981 Shannon Ketch, With almost everything on the boat being original, including the refrigeration, we have big problems with the insulation. I have taken off the counter top and from what I can see, the insulation is beyond bad, I am thinking about taking out the fridge and scraping out the old insulation and replacing it with Blue Board, but I’m afraid of ruining the fridge while taking it out. Your solution seems outstanding, but you wrote that you had to wait for a 75 degree day to spray in the foam. Is that the recommended temp from Dow? We wont see 75 here in NE Ohio for months. How is it holding up through the years?

  7. Hi Vince and Julie! We had done the spray foam insulation on our last boat, we just sold her this past summer. From the time we put the insulation in until we did sell her, it was doing a fantastic job. For our new boat we just built our own refrigerator box and used sheet foam instead (at a total of 3″ thick), so we’ll have to see how it does in comparison, but so far so good. The 75 degree temperature we needed to wait for on the spray foam had been a recommendation from the manufacturer.

  8. Hey, great share….

    I really loved your post. Great job!! I am also going to do start this project.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing DIY project on Refrigeration Insulation.
    Keep sharing more…
    Brendan Bordin recently posted…freezeMy Profile

  9. Spray foam sounds like a life saver option for insulation. I am impressed that by adding spray foam, you are able to create a sound barrier. Listening to your experience of doing your own insulation will really come in handy as I do my own. Thanks for all your help and input!

  10. I love that you have pictures to go along with the steps you took to insulate the fridge. It looks like a bit of work, but I’m sure the results will make it worth it. Thanks for showing the process!

  11. Thank you for sharing. Could you please respond with or repost answers to the questions posed by Henk Koornstra says:
    February 27, 2014 at 8:17 pm regarding how you dealt with the existing insulation?

    Thank you


  12. Your “chunk of broken off foam” photo was pretty telling of the experience. Your description of things that went wrong will be helpful for your readers.

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