12 Sep 2018

Heating the Jobsite and Property

Keeping construction going in subzero weather
 

Heating a jobsite or property may seem like a simple task, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. 

For new construction, the list almost looks endless; frozen ground, open building envelope, concrete pours, interior finishes, equipment installation and testing.  And with existing properties, scheduled maintenance can turn into an ever expanding problem; HVAC units are failing, the amount of energy needed to provide enough heat is often much greater than the power supply, and existing systems can’t provide an adequate amount of heat.

You know that heat for your project is a top priority during the winter. But what steps and measures should you be taking to ensure you get it right the first time? Can you provide the heating solutions needed on this project, so when your pipeline of work builds, it’s because you’re seen as the expert?

The need for heating in a property or jobsite is a no-brainer. On working sites, staff needs to be comfortable to carry out their duties, while properties need variable heating to keep tenants happy. Sites that don’t implement high-quality heating measures can see hefty costs and additional downtime as a result. 

Heating a Jobsite or Property the Right Way 

There are a number of heating options for contractors to put in place depending on the purpose of the building and the desired outcome. Take a Manitoba car dealership going through a major expansion, which was delayed during the summer.  They needed reliable heat to cure concrete during the harsh winter months. Outside temperatures dipped as low as -40F, but an indoor temperature of 60F was needed to keep operations running smoothly. 

In winter, the dealership faced the challenge of keeping temperatures consistent throughout the 14-to-21-day curing process. Working with the general and mechanical contractors, we showed how a fuel-efficient ground heating system that was capable of continuous operation. 

We installed boilers to reduce fuel consumption and heat the concrete via expendable heat transfer tubes at the same time. The result was a heating system designed especially for this particular dealership that tackled the freezing outdoor temperatures to keep business ticking over nicely. 

Though the type of heating needed varies depending on the building’s needs, there are a number of ways contractors can make sure they’re giving their site the best chance possible. 

Ground Thaw Applications

The Manitoba dealership mentioned above thrived with its new ground heating technology, and many other job sites would benefit from having ground thaw applications.

For one commercial build, we installed a portable natural-gas fired Central Heating Unit outside the structure as well as a ground thaw application to thaw the winter’s frost around it. The concrete was quickly cured by the hot forced air or the hoses, drastically sped up the build. 

This method consists of installing underground hoses that are pumped with hot glycol from the heater and, as it travels through the hose, it heats the ground around it. The ground closest to the hot side of the hose thaws out quickly, making this a great method for speeding up the concrete curing process too. 

Comfort Heating for Workers

Cold employees don’t make for productive results. In fact, the vast majority of the population will struggle to keep their productivity levels high when they’re uncomfortable in the workplace. 

In a study by Cornell University, it was discovered that being a comfortable temperature in the workplace doesn’t just make employees happy, but it also keeps their productivity levels up. 

How does a lack of proper preparation affect your budget and schedule? It can be difficult to maintain consistently comfortable temperatures, particularly in the freezing winter months. To tackle this, it’s important for contractors to keep any heating systems they do have regularly maintained and operating at the right temperature. 

Regular precautions and checks will safeguard the property against losing any heat, making the building and it’s workers as efficient as possible. 

Hydronic Heating

A hydronic heating system heats water and pushes it through pipes to radiators and other heating units throughout a building, providing a consistent temperature in every room. 

One luxury condo was on the brink of a freezing and damp winter. Compounding problems further, the municipal gas line that was supposed to fuel the 21-story building’s heating system was delayed, which meant there was no heat to dry out the construction, let alone any heat to keep tenants warm in the freezing winter months. 

Initially, the contractor considered using open flame heaters fueled by kerosene or propane, but having to vent off the carbon monoxide would have led to higher fuel costs. They also considered electric heaters, but found that they don’t produce enough heat, and the option to reheat outside air was much to costly. 

We came up with an option that would solve the property’s problem: installing hydronic heating. Rather than just reheating cold air from outside, we reheated the ambient air from inside the building, which takes out the chill factor. As a result, the property remained at an optimal temperature throughout the winter and saved the contractors a significant amount on high heating costs. 

HVAC Maintenance and Repair

Regular maintenance on any heating equipment is vital in keeping a jobsite or property running smoothly. Without consistent checks, there can be unplanned downtime which leads to a loss in revenue and time-consuming fixes. 

Think about it: HVAC units are the lifeblood of a building; they keep temperatures comfortable throughout the year, they play a critical role in healthcare and technology facilities, and they help maintain interior finishes and ensure occupancy viability. This is why preventative measures should be in place in case the system goes down and makes the building uncomfortable or, worse, unusable. 

One construction site in the Pacific Northwest found themselves with no power, and needed a temporary system for heat during the winter months. For this particular construction site, operations stopped once temperatures dropped below freezing. Because of this, operators had a very limited window of keeping fluids from freezing. 

As well as delivering and installing the required power and thermal energy to heat the employee work areas and all the major equipment and circuits, we also used remote monitoring to check that the HVAC system was working correctly throughout the winter and that temperatures were maintained. 

By keeping a close eye on the HVAC system, the construction site eliminated any downtime and managed to keep operations going for as long as possible. 

The Importance of Heat on a Jobsite or Property 

Keeping a site or property the right temperature is one of the biggest challenges contractors face, but finding the perfect solution can mean dramatically reducing costs and eliminating any unplanned downtime. Find a process that’s a good fit for the purpose of the building, make sure it’s regularly maintained, and keep your jobsite warm.  

Keep Your Jobsite Warm