Much Ado About Foam

Have you noticed dark spots in the foam insulation of your ASL Solutions insulated DP, DP Hunter, or CRB? Does it seem odd to you that the insulation is in pellet form instead of solid panels? Where does the foam come from, anyway?

Lucky for you, we've got answers to all of the above questions (and more)!

Foam Products Corporation supplies ASL Solutions with big, super sacks of expanded polystyrene beads, or EPS for short. This is actually recycled material that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill! The recycled foam comes in different colors, so that’s why there are some darker spots in the insulation. The foam is originally from a huge block that FPC cuts with hot wires (amongst other methods) to shape the foam they sell to the refrigeration and insulation industries. EPS keeps the heat in the doghouse. Whatever FPC has left over after cutting the shapes they need is considered scrap, so they grind that up and sell it to ASL to use in the dog houses as insulation. It would've otherwise been sent to the landfill, because there isn't a market for EPS scrap, or at least there wasn't until ASL came along.

Glorious recycled foam!

Since ASL's production has increased, we also source recycled EPS from Diversifoam, where it is internally recycled.

For those interested in the science side of EPS, the r-value (the resistance to heat and cold a one-inch thick piece of anything has), of EPS is pretty high up there, and the r-value does not get diminished with the styrofoam being in pellet form instead of panel form. Air actually has an r-value itself, especially in enclosed spaces (such as in the miniscule spaces between EPS pellets), so the combination of air and EPS pellets is a strong layer of insulation that’s just as good, if not better than a solid panel of foam. Since foam lasts such a long time, the r-value doesn’t degrade over the lifetime of the doghouse, either.

Fun fact, local farmers donated used seed bags to ASL for the transportation of the EPS to and from the facilities! There’s a whole lotta reusing and recycling goin’ on.

Locally donated seed bags in use.

Some people have asked why ASL doesn't just use liquid foam, and that's a good question. It would make sense to use that to fill the hollow spaces perfectly. But liquid foam is extremely toxic and unsafe for pets, so ASL doesn't use it. The polystyrene ASL uses is very close to the kind that is used to package food, but the refining process is slightly different. Food-grade polystyrene and insulation-grade polystyrene are still the same kind of foam, and polystyrene is safe for use as insulation for your furry friends.

Each year, ASL gets better and better at innovating ways to insulate the doghouses to perfection. Product development is a continuous, evolving process, and ASL is constantly working on ways to make our process better. Since ASL began, significant changes have been made to how we insulate our doghouses. We used to fill them by hand, but now we have an automatic process with shakers and a vacuum system, which has improved the process greatly.

That's a lot of foam pellets.

The latest house, the CRB, has everything ASL knows about using the vacuum system. The CRB is our best-engineered product, because everything we’ve learned from the past has been put into this beautiful house. The two circular walls make bulging due to heat not a problem because of their natural shape.

ASL makes thousands of dog houses a year, and if we used foam panels, the production costs would be a lot higher than they are with the recycled EPS. If the production costs are higher, then the price of the dog house is going to go up for customers, and we want our products to be of the highest quality possible while remaining affordable.

These houses are ready to be homes.

A problem some people with the Dog Palace encounter is the appearance of a reservoir at the top of the DP. Usually, the problem is that plastic expands when continually exposed to heat, making the walls slightly wider and the gap between the panels slightly bigger, thus creating the illusion of the foam insulation "settling".

Something you can do to reverse this and get the insulation back in place is to wait until the end of the warmest season, when it’s still warm during the day but cooler at night. Then you can turn the house upside-down during the day and then flip it back over during the night. It won’t be allowed to expand the way it was before, and it should pop back into its regular shape. You can tap on the sidewalls to make sure you knock the insulation loose. This solution helps most cases. However, if the plastic sidewall gets bulges in it, that typically means the plastic connectors are broken and ASL can send a replacement panel for the cost of shipping.

The CRB makes a great home for large dogs or cohabitating medium/small dogs.

Thanks to the innovative design of the CRB, it is much less susceptible to expanding because the natural force of the circle keeps the material from bulging out.

And, as a bonus, ASL is getting a new color mixer in November, so the dye that colors the panels will be more opaque, and the darker specks of insulation should no longer be an aesthetic issue.

All of this is to say, ASL wants to make sure your dogs and cats are warm and comfortable year-round. This is why we do what we do.

Thank you to Pamela Mulvey, Sales and Marketing Director of ASL Solutions; Kevin McGinnis, General Manager of Foam Products Corporation; and Blake Kiefer, Sales and Marketing of Diversifoam Products, for their insights.

Written by Skye Isabella Rose Iwanski


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