08 Oct 2019

Prepping Your Jobsite Before Winter Strikes

Aggreko generator and fuel tanks on snow

Ah, the first snowfall of winter. Kids racing outside to build a snowman Dogs running around with excitement. Pumpkin spiced lattes on every corner. Everyone loves it, don’t they? Unless you work on a construction site, then you’re probably not the biggest fan.

No doubt your crew members have a few tricks up their (well-insulated) sleeves. Helmet and glove liners. Thermal socks. Insulated coveralls and long sleeve shirts. No matter how warmly dressed you are, though, there comes a point when it's simply too cold for your jobsite to operate.  

What do you do if the outside temperature falls below freezing, and your equipment can’t function below zero? When it’s so cold that the ground has frozen over and your concrete won’t pour? When winter weather comes, does it mean your construction team simply can’t do their jobs?

Let’s start with frozen ground – a huge challenge to working with concrete that can seriously slow things down.

By using a temporary ground heating setup, such as a portable, natural-gas fired Central Heating Unit with underground hoses pumped with hot-glycol, you can thaw winter frost rapidly. The hot air forced from your hoses also cures the concrete, speeding up your build.  
Then there’s the issue of keeping your workers warm enough to be comfortable and productive.
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is how to keep the temperature consistent throughout the jobsite. There are many types of fuel-efficient temporary heaters, generators and HVAC units out there that you can use for comfort heating, but the harder task is finding ways to trap the heat while also ensuring there’s a steady supply of fresh air. Consider options such a hydronic heat, which allows a steady and even dispersion of heat, provides a simple setup, and is both cost and energy efficient while being low risk for potential hazards.
Make sure, too, that any fueled heaters are kept at least 10ft away from any flammable or combustible materials, as well as temporary enclosures, tarps or debris.
If you have a permanent heating system installed, make sure you test it thoroughly and regularly. This is well worth your time, as any delays or outages that impact on productivity will get expensive. Be sure to conduct maintenance and repair work on HVAC units and other heaters in a timely manner.
Setup and test your temporary heating setup in advance, too, to avoid any nasty surprises. Think through every detail and eventuality. HVAC units can fail. You might find that the amount of power you need to provide enough heat exceeds the available supply. When things get really frosty, the generators or other equipment you’ve brought in may not be able to cope with the environmental conditions, sending you back to square one. How will you handle these issues?
Don’t wait until there’s snow on the ground to start preparing for winter. The more thought you put into this ahead of time, the quicker you can make the switch when the temperature drops, ensuring you lose as little time – and money - as possible. Every moment of downtime is a loss of profits!