Can Fire Restore Your Portable Restrooms?

When used in moderation, fire and heat can repair minor to moderate scratches and wear marks on portable restrooms.
Can Fire Restore Your Portable Restrooms?
When used in moderation, fire/heat can repair minor to moderate scratches and wear marks on portable restrooms.

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Fire is a destructive force, especially when dealing with flammable portable restrooms, however, in this article I’ll explain how to use heat to repair units and related equipment. In my service area it’s common for portable restroom companies to swap out units or downgrade event restrooms to construction units in only a few years. One reason is because their units appear worn and abused. Some of them even resort to grinding off graffiti instead of removing it properly. My event restrooms are nearing eight years and look almost brand new. My secret … I set fire to my restrooms!

When used in moderation, fire/heat can repair minor to moderate scratches and wear marks on portable restrooms. This is a very common problem for PROs as equipment rubs up against other equipment, gets discolored from sun damage, and suffers the consequences of vandalism.

This is a simple procedure, but it takes some practice. If you heat an area too long you risk warping or burning the plastic; if you don’t put enough heat this simply won’t work. There are two tool choices – the easier and slower option is a heat gun, which is more predictable and doesn’t produce a flame that can discolor the plastic. A torch is faster and more transportable but it’s trickier to get right.

PolyJohn Enterprises design engineer Jamie Kostelyk agrees. “I prefer flame,” he says. “It seems like the flame doesn’t saturate the plastic like heat, but just melts the surface and blends the scratches. With a heat gun, in order to get that same effect, you really have to heat it and saturate it, whereas with the flame, it just gets the surface very well."

To begin, heat the plastic enough so it melts slightly on the surface. When it melts the roughed up areas will turn white or a lighter color and return to the original color, and should melt back down to the surface with the same texture as before, leaving no trace. This process also can melt some minor cuts together, and renew faded plastic.

“Just quickly go over the surface to give it a nice gloss and hide fine scratches,” says Kostelyk.

Proper technique

Don’t concentrate on one area for too long. It’s like welding, you want to move around and just keep the heat at the surface of the plastic material. If it warps a little while hot, wait because most of the time it will return to its original shape after it has cooled. Remember, some plastics don’t like heat at all and will instantly burn and discolor. I’ve learned that some tissue paper dispensers, all seat cover holders, and some restroom seats will be ruined by heat.

“You’re not going to get rid of deep scratches, but if you have a deep scratch, you can sand down the surface to blend it, and then use heat to remove the fine scratches,” says Kostelyk. “It won’t result in a perfect surface, but it’s better than seeing scratches.”

Heat is also good for applying decals to portable restrooms. “It’s always best to take a torch and heat the surface first,” says Kostelyk. “It opens up the surface of the plastic to accept the adhesive.”

Use this method to make your portable restrooms look new again. Wan to learn more? Here are some tricks to remove stubborn graffiti

Brian Schmidt owns Rent-A-John Portable Toilets – Santa Rosa, CA

What life hacks do you have for portable restroom upkeep? Post a comment below. 



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