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SysTech performing a building ventilation analysis in preparation for winter

It’s that time of year again, and it’s important to be proactive and remind everyone you’ll soon be closing doors and windows as the temperature falls.

Work habits will change, doors and windows will be closed, and ventilation issues will become clear. That said, important steps need to be undertaken now; identify the ventilation issues, collect and evaluate the options to handle the problems, and decide what you need to do so you get the materials you need to solve the problems before it’s too late.

Maybe I’m writing this because we’ve spent too much time on a roof in January and February or having identified a problem, can’t fix it because the equipment or parts needed won’t arrive in time.

Our goal, as a resource for our clients, is to meet and complete requests. Too many times as the end of the year approaches, we are contacted too late, and this becomes a crisis which we can’t always accommodate with a solution.  The 2018 Erie, PA lake-effect snowfall comes to mind!

Common Issues with Plant Ventilation and Warehouse Ventilation in Winter

I’ve listed the common issues we are asked to address. It may be new equipment, tweaking of installed equipment or a process system adjustment requiring duct and fabricated metal items. The common issues are:

  • Heating – It’s going to get cold outside and plant buildings will need heat.  New heaters will be required and existing “in need of repair” inefficient equipment will raise, not lower energy bills.
  • Air Movers – Not working properly or not working at all. These include fans and blowers along with associated dampers and louvers. They can be either stand-alone or integral to an air handler or make-up air unit.
  • Indoor Air Pollution – When buildings are “buttoned-up” smoke, dust and fumes accumulate. Some can be exhausted, but particulate and oils settle out on the floor and overhead rafters.
  • Scheduled Maintenance where parts are needed – End of year shut-down for annual maintenance procedures requires parts for equipment in need of repair or new filters need to be installed.

Belts and wheel inspection of axial roof exhausters

Heating

Heating is required for employee comfort and protection against freezing.  Adding a make-up air unit such as a gas-fired Weather-Rite TT Series, electric unit heaters for cold spots around the plant or installing heaters at truck bay door openings like a Hartzell Model 78 is a common solution.

Air Movers

Fans, blowers, make-up air units, and air handlers need to be checked for proper operation. Checking belts, adjust dampers, closing adjustable louvers, and checking actuators are often required. Most plants operate on a summer /winter pattern with their ventilation fans and now is the time to reverse the set-up.

SysTech field inspection

Dust collector performance and structural integrity inspection

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality plummets when all doors and windows are closed and air cleaners or dust collectors are not in place or not operating at peak efficiency. Smoke and fumes build-up at the ceiling and dusts accumulate on horizontal surfaces. The same units we use for heating will be required to bring in outside air to counter the exhaust of dust collection systems or other pollution control processes. There is a typical requirement for replacement filters in both air handlers and dust collectors during the year-end maintenance.

If you have a localized pollution source, consideration is oftentimes given to smaller air cleaners such as a Dual Draw Down Draft Bench to minimize capital expenditures.

Maintenance

Year-end shut down to correct issues and prepare for the coming year would include replacing filter elements in dust collectors and air handlers, critical spare parts for shutdown work and interruptions with getting things with the holiday period.

The end of year holidays means vacations at the manufacturers, and shipment times are extended, or inventory is depleted. Don’t wait, get ready now and minimize the crisis coming later in the year!

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