Energy Manager

10 tips for improving warehouse ventilation

November 15, 2018 - A warehouse is one of the most important components of many types of business, whether the goods it stores are perishable or not. Many Canadian warehouses face serious heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) challenges, especially in extremely hot and cold seasons, and it may seem impossible to maintain the integrity of the stored goods.

November 15, 2018  By Caryl Anne Crowne

With the right HVAC planning and strategizing, you can properly maintain your warehouse. Here are some useful tips on improving ventilation.

1. Remove hot air during the day
A lot of things happen during the day in a warehouse. The machinery being used elevates the temperature. When ambient temperatures are already high in the summer, it just adds to the heat. If the warehouse is overheated, goods will perish and employees may feel uncomfortable, which lowers their productivity.

Improving ventilation may include opening windows during the day and using portable industrial fans. The fans will help (a) remove hot air, (b) keep all air moving and (c) cool any spaces where air conditioning units are not working properly.

2. Turn off the source of the heat
This is the easiest and most practical tip to keep the heat down in a warehouse. Many machines heat up during the day. The best way to keep things cool is to switch them off in the evening when they are not in use.

When electronics cool off during the night, they can cause a significant temperature drop and any heat that was still trapped inside the building will escape, leaving the warehouse cool.

3. Take advantage of cool air in the night
Trying to keep a warehouse cool using only HVAC systems can easily incur high electric bills. Another way to reduce the temperature in the warehouse is night purging: stack ventilation where hot air will rise, so cold air will take its place, leaving the interior of the warehouse cool enough for the following day.

4. Install a white roof
Another effective technique for keeping the air in a warehouse cool, especially during hot, sunny summer days, is to replace a warehouse’s dark roof with a white one. The benefit is it reflects the sun’s rays, reducing the amount of heat energy that gets absorbed into the building.

5. Invest in insulation
While many people worry about the hottest days of the year, when excessive heat can get trapped inside the warehouse, they may forget when it cools down in winter, some goods may not withstand the extreme cold of winter, either.

Assess the ability of the warehouse to retain heat when it is cold. If you need to make adjustments, look for alternative and add-on insulation systems that will help keep the building warmer in the winter.

6. Install destratification fans
Destratification fans are an inexpensive, simple and energy-efficient way to regulate the temperature in a warehouse. They are specifically designed to recycle or mix the air in a building to equalize temperatures, eliminating concentrated hot and cold spots, while also reducing energy consumption by 20%.

The most popular types are:

  • High-velocity axial fan—Air is distributed at high speeds to the floor of the warehouse. These models are best used with ceiling heights of 32 to 65 ft.
  • Low-velocity propeller fan—Air is circulated at lower speeds. These models are are best used for ceilings heights of 16 to 32 ft.

7. Control humidity
Another common ventilation issue in warehouses is humidity. When there is excessive humidity in the ambient environment, the warehouse can become uncomfortable for staff and the quality of stored goods can be compromised.

Occupational health and safety (OHS) standards suggest indoor humidity should not exceed 55%. If you can see water droplets forming around window frames—especially metallic ones—and glass panes, then the humidity is too high.

If a humidity issue is not addressed in a timely manner, it can lead to the growth of mould and mildew, damaging both stored goods and the warehouse itself. The air conditioning system should mitigate excess humidity and alert you when the buildup of moisture is too high. Industrial dehumidifiers are another reliable and affordable way to manage humidity.

8. Deal with fumes
Another common problem in warehouses is the production of fumes by powered equipment, such as forklifts. These fumes can be extremely harmful if trapped indoors.

Portable fans are able to do some air cleanup and circulation, but you will also need to use portable air scrubbers for parts of the warehouse that fans cannot sufficiently reach.

9. Prepare for each season
When it is hot outside, warehouses typically encounter issues with excessive humidity and fumes. When it cools down for fall and winter, there may instead be problems with indoor air quality (IAQ) and insulation. It is important to anticipate and prepare for these problems before they happen.

Spring is the time for the following assessments:

  • Will the HVAC system keep the warehouse sufficiently cool on the hottest days?
  • Are air filters in a position to clean up dust, fumes and other impurities in the air?
  • Is the roof letting in more heat than it should?

Then, when the weather cools down in the fall, it is time for these checks:

  • Does the heating system maintain indoor temperatures and preserve the integrity of the stored goods?
  • Does the insulation ensure warm air is trapped inside the warehouse, to avoid overworking the heating system?

10. Rely on an expert
Most importantly, ensure a reliable HVAC maintenance expert is available to handle all issues connected with the warehouse’s fluctuating temperatures and IAQ. Regular maintenance is the only way to ensure storage and working conditions remain favourable and any complications are addressed before machinery warrants replacement.

Further, there are new American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) requirements for IAQ procedures to determine minimum ventilation rates for warehouse contaminants that can end up in individuals’ internal organs. An expert should know and be able to comply with these updated standards.

Caryl Anne Crowne is a writer and media specialist for Mr. Electric. She produces content for a variety of electrical blogs.

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