10 Tips For Renting Emergency Heating Units

Oct. 5, 2010
Key questions relate to size of area, occupancy, safety.

The need for emergency heating typically arises from a failed or under-performing existing system, or an unexpected requirement where no other heat source is available. For example, construction delays in a commercial building may push finishing trades, such as painting, dry wall and flooring installation into winter, which threatens both quality and schedule.

Aggreko was the official supplier of temperature control solutions for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. aggreko.com

Asking yourself the following 10 questions will be crucial to making the best arrangements in any eventuality:

1. What is the size of the area to be heated? Determine the area or volume of the space. For an existing structure this also includes taking into account the size of the heating system that was lost. Are you heating a small portion of a large job site? Is there room for the heater inside the space, or should it be placed outside?

2. What are the safety implications? Ensure equipment is UL tested and includes a safety device, or determine whether it will require live monitoring. Some facilities will not allow open flame without having someone in the building to monitor it - an important consideration at night when outside temperatures are lowest.

3. How will the heated space be occupied? Confirm how personnel will use the space when determining equipment needs. Direct gas fired re-circulating heaters have the potential for adding moisture and particles of combustion and should be avoided in a tight space where people work, or where air quality is a consideration.

4. Where should the heating unit be placed? Asking yourself this question will help identify access points and other constraints due to space limitations. For example, if a high school auditorium located in the middle of a building is being heated, is there access to the outside of the building, where the heater can be placed and heat blown inside? Or, if a renovation to a hospital floor with a parking garage located directly below needs heat, will the rental unit get in the way of the brick layer or floor installer? Finally, is your equipment mobile, and does it have to be located near the fuel source or electric power?

5. What is required to distribute the heat? Most heaters use a fan to blow air into a space. However, flexible ducting may be required when the fan’s air stream is not strong enough to accommodate the size of the space, or the distance between the rental heater and the space prevents a fan from effectively distributing heat.

6. What are the air ventilation and air quality considerations? If you are using a gas-fired unit, some infiltration of outside fresh air is required. The unit cannot be tightly enclosed because combustion and fumes are being added to the air. For tight spaces, an electric or an indirect gas fired heater which provides clean, dry heat should be considered.

7. What is the desired temperature for the space to be heated? How warm should your space be? The answer will help determine the number of units you use. For example, some paints require a 700 F environment for drying or curing. In addition, wood paneling and trim work may require drying and de-humidifying, as moisture will cause these items to expand and contract.

8. Are there any power needs for the unit? Most temporary heaters require some form of electricity for the fans that blow the heat into the space and for the controls. Larger heaters may require more amps or higher voltage than the standard wall outlet.

9. What fuel source options are available on site? Do you have gas, oil, or some other source of fuel? The biggest cost associated with using a rental unit is fuel. Most contractors fail to consider this point and look only at the up-front equipment rental cost. For instance, using a propane system, where propane is piped from outside the building, may not be economical. An outside fuel source requires shipping and filling, so understanding what is available at your particular site is important. Don’t focus on rental cost only. Factor in the cost of fuel.

10. Evaluate rental providers. Find a rental provider such as Aggreko with a reputation for a well managed fleet of clean, safe, dry temporary heating systems built to specification and safety standards. This will eliminate risk associated with undocumented, uncertified equipment rentals. Your provider should also be available 24/7 to help you in any emergency.