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How Positive Pressurization Improves Temporary-Heating Efficiency and Employee Safety on Construction Projects

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Wikipedia offers a simple definition of positive pressure: A pressure within a system that is greater than the environment that surrounds that system. Put another way, in a positive air pressure system, excess air will escape through openings in the system into the surrounding environment.

Positive air pressure is used in a number of applications. In hospitals, the system keeps airborne microorganisms away from patients. It’s also used to remove hot air from and deliver cold air to computers in data centers. In the construction world, positive pressure is a cost-effective way to distribute heat, provide a safe working environment, and remove moisture from enclosures.

Heating Unit Placed Inside an Enclosure

Heating Unit Placed Inside an Enclosure: Heat does not distribute through space. External wind pressure may produce nominal airflow. Air is recirculated, which raises safety concerns.

Heating Unit Placed Outside an Enclosure

Heating Unit Placed Outside an Enclosure: Heat is distributed through space through positive pressurization. Strategically placed openings use airflow to distribute heat, remove moisture and ensure a safe air change.

Efficient Airflow, Efficient Heating

Installing temporary heaters on a winter project is just a start. If considerations are not made for airflow, heating will be ineffective and expensive. To heat a given space, especially one with obstructions like walls, attention must be given to how hot air is distributed.

To address heat distribution issues, some companies are quick to recommend installing additional heating units. But, this increases equipment rental, setup and fuel costs. Sometimes multiple units are placed inside an enclosure to reach problem areas. Yet, recirculating air raises safety concerns related to carbon monoxide and introduces moisture issues. Alternatively, fans are sometimes used to try to distribute heat. But, our own experience on hot summer days will remind us that fans are used for cooling! So this extra expense actually has an opposite, unintended effect. Without proper airflow, these approaches are little more than expensive, over-sized space heaters. Positive pressurization leverages simple physics to ensure proper airflow and distribute heat—eliminating the need for extra equipment.

Babfar recommends placing heating units outside an enclosure. If units are placed inside, make sure the unit draws outside air, to maintain positive pressure. This will distribute heat effectively. Air will take the path of least resistance. So, well-planned openings in the enclosure (cracked windows or cut-outs in a building tarp) will draw air to an area needing heat.

Air Change for Safety

OSHA’s recommended Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide (CO) is 35 parts per million (ppm) as is the regulatory limit in the State of Massachusetts. A level of 200 ppm for several hours or more is considered dangerous.

Positive pressurization prevents carbon monoxide and other hazardous materials from reaching unsafe levels. An air change for a temporary enclosure should occur every one to two hours.

Defense Against Humidity, Moisture

As mentioned in our air movers post, a steady flow of fresh air is the best defense against humidity and moisture. Positive pressure is the key to maintaining airflow and preventing moisture buildup from causing project delays and damaging materials.

The last thing you should do is throw more heat at heat-related problems. Instead, improve the airflow! A positive air pressure system forces air into an enclosure and out through strategically placed openings. Designed properly, this system will improve airflow, evenly distribute heat within an enclosure, and ensure a proper air change.

Air Movers Provide a Safe Work Environment and Keep Construction Projects on Track in Summer

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Temporary heat is commonly used on construction projects in winter. Beyond the obvious benefit of keeping the work environment warm for employees and materials, it ensures proper air ventilation inside an enclosure. While heat is not required in summer, maintaining good ventilation is critical. Temporary air movers provide a safe work environment and keep your project on track during the hot, humid summer months.

#TBT: 1993 “Scooper Dome”

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View Original Article. . .

It’s hard not to think about ice cream on a hot day like this! Check out this ‘cool’ TBT from 1993. . . Deemed the ‘Scooper Dome,’ a giant air-supported structure was inflated by two powerful BABFAR heaters which enabled contractors to continue concrete work right through the winter on Ben & Jerry’s manufacturing facility in St. Albans.

Ten Point Checklist to Maintain Temporary Heaters

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Temporary Heating Maintenance

It’s cold. But, your construction project is humming along nicely. Before temps dropped into the single-digits, the slab was poured. The walls are going up and the windows are scheduled soon. Then, one of your temporary heating units takes a hiatus! Construction on the site’s south side is now in jeopardy. You call for repairs. Depending on how long it takes to get the heater back online, that new slab may freeze, drywall tape and joint compound may not dry, materials may become damaged, or the ground may frost—all causing construction delays and increasing costs. Fortunately, situations like this are easily avoidable. Regular preventative maintenance can minimize the risk of costly problems and ensure your construction project stays on schedule and budget.

A More Accurate Approach to Sizing Heating Equipment

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Despite “BTU” appearing on residential and commercial heating and cooling equipment, few people understand what it means.

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and represents the amount of energy required to raise 1 pound of water 1° F at sea level. Common heating and cooling equipment are rated in terms of how many BTUs per hour they can add to or remove from the air. The higher the BTU rating, the more heating or cooling capacity the unit has. The heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry uses BTU to size heaters and air conditioning units for different applications.

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