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Industrial Air Make Up Blower

By Expert Author: Oleg Tchetchel

The signs that You need Make-up Air include:

1) Poor paint finishing due to dust, moisture or fumes. Exhaust fans will compete with each other for the available air. They are going to pull air from anywhere they can. Paint booth fans may lose out in the competition causing the paint to retain moisture and collect dust that is not removed by the exhaust fans.

2) Walls have moisture being pulled through. This shows that your plant is under negative pressure. Cement walls have small cracks that allow water to penetrate. Fans pull from every place air can get through. This includes walls. When fans pull air through walls, water from rain and other outdoor sources will also be pulled through. This will cause firring strips to rot, ruin wall coverings and paint jobs.

3) Smoke, haze and dust floating in the air. As you look across the factory is it hazy? You should be able to see clearly from one end of your factory to the other without the view being blocked by haze and smoke. If the area clears when a window or door is opened, it is starved for air. This indicates that the exhaust fans are competing for air. Welding, molding, metal cutting or many other processes can generate fumes that need to be exhausted or the factory could become hazy.

4) Stacks and exhaust fans take up a large portion of your roof. If this is the case, you are a prime candidate for make-up air. The number of stacks and exhaust fans on the roof is an easy way to gauge the amount of makeup air needed. The area of inlet air should be equal to or greater than the area of exhaust air. The hoods seem to have a downdraft rather than the normal updraft. The fumes from hoods are supposed to go up the hoods, but if the fan is starved for air the fumes will be found in the plant. This is also true for gas hot water heaters, boilers, furnaces and unit heaters or any other process that has a flue on it.

5) Fan motors also work harder when they are required. When a fan attempts to move air that is not there, it causes the load to rise. This causes the insulation to break down and shorten life. Motors should last 7 or more years. When every exhaust fan in the plant is fighting for the same air, all the motors are going to have decreased life.

6) When walking through the plant, odors seem to linger. Weld fumes, paint fumes and dip tanks all need to be exhausted. These fumes can cause undesirable mixtures of odors that linger and cause burning, watery eyes, sore throats or sinus trouble. This contributes to an Locker room, bathroom and other odors seem to creep through the plant and office. People’s clothes smell like the production line. Processes like oil mist, boilers, roasting ovens and paint booths have odors. All these aromas require ventilation. If the ventilators cannot provide the required number of air changes in the room, your plant is short of air.

7) Doors that are hard to open or doors that will not shut on their own are a sure sign that the plant is short of air. Inward swinging doors are easy to open and hard to close. Drafts through the door seals and knobs that are hard to turn add to the problem. Outward swinging doors are hard to open and “slam” shut, damaging seals and wearing hinges. Hydraulic door closer settings are set high to pull doors closed without slamming.

8) Shutters on the exhaust fans are not 100% open. Automatic or balanced shutters are not open. These shutters should be 100% open when the exhaust fans are running. If the exhaust fan is not getting enough air, the shutter will not open all the way. The shutters should gradually close when the fan is turned off. They should not slam shut.

9) Steel near the fume hoods is corroding due to fumes that should be exhausted. Many corrosive liquids require their own hood. Typically the hood is a stainless steel and will not deteriorate from the fumes. If the air is not going up the hood and fumes are being pulled through another exhaust fan that is not designed to handle the corrosive atmosphere, the fan and any nearby steel will also corrode and decrease the life of the unprotected equipment.

10) Cracks under the doors collect leaves, dirt or gum wrappers. The threshold of the door will collect a substantial amount of debris during the day due to the exhaust fans trying to grab air from anywhere they can get it. Part of grabbing the air will be the collection dirt and trash.

11) Cold walls. The walls should not be cold. The wall can act as an insulator if the air is balanced. Insulation will prevent some drafts, but no insulation will prevent all the air from coming through. With negative pressure, however, the drafts through the wall will be cold regardless of the amount of insulation. These cold drafts will cause absenteeism and help spread colds and illness throughout the building. People will constantly fight over the thermostat setting. Fuel will be conserved with proper ventilation. Without make-up air, cold conditions near the building perimeter and overheated areas in the middle of the building lead to installation of more inefficient unit heaters. These heaters work overtime to heat the air, which in turn gets pulled to center of the building thus adding to the overheating problem.

12) Pilot lights go out and the area smells of flue gases. The flue gases from the unit heaters must go up. When makeup air is needed, these gases do not go up the flue but back into the building. Unit heaters are not necessary with the proper makeup air units. The heat for the plant will come from the makeup air unit and the unit heaters will not run.

The lack of make-up air in a building can cause serious problems. Many times the problems are not even recognized and show themselves in ways that most people do not think about. A properly designed and installed ventilation system provides environmental control by avoiding negative pressure. Uncontrolled infiltration of air through window sashes, doors and walls leads to many undesired results. In this article we will discuss a few of these problems and inform you about the cost of make-up air.

Oleg Chechel
Industrial Air Systems Engineer
CB Blower Co.

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