How to Make Cold Plastic Contract

Plastic has many purposes within building and home construction. It is used in pipes, for example. Plastic can add durability to the materials. However, it can become a hazard when the plastic contracts. Contracting plastic damages the material it has bonded with along with the system within the house it supports. Some builders get around this problem by allowing for the plastic to contract after construction. To understand how this works, understand how plastic contracts.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic piece
  • Canned air
  • Dry ice
  • Insulated container


    • 1

      Record the measurements of the length, width and depth of the plastic. Doing so will help you determine if the plastic contracted and how much it contracted.

    • 2

      Make cold plastic contract even further by placing it in a freezer or outside for a few hours in frigid weather. Measure the plastic to see if it contracted.

    • 3

      Give small pieces of cold plastic a shot of canned air to see if that causes a contraction. Place it near a block of dry ice, in an insulated container to cool the plastic even further. Don't touch the dry ice to the plastic, but get it close. Measure the plastic to record the contraction.

    • 4

      Look at your notes and determine which method made the plastic contract the most. Your notes can also tell you how cold the plastic has to be to contract. If the plastic contracted in frigid temperatures, it may not be the best material for an outdoor project. Plastic the only contracted with the dry ice can withstand extreme temperatures.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use your measurements to determine how much room you should build into your project for contracting, if you can't avoid using the plastic altogether.
  • Try an experiment where you heat the cold plastic first and then expose it to cold temperatures defined in the steps. This shows how the plastic will react when taken indoors and outdoors during cold weather. It is also a good way to test plastics that may go on the roof where heat from inside the house and the cold air outside are constantly heating and freezing the precipitation in cold and snowy climates.
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  • Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

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