Why insulate? The benefits of insulation go well beyond the need to control heat loss and heat gain. Mechanical insulation is often undervalued and overlooked in the design and budgeting process. It is an impressively effective means of controlling energy loss, saving money, and keeping personnel safe. The factors listed below are just a short list of ways that mechanical insulation can help improve your commercial or industrial facility.
A well designed and installed insulation system immediately reduces the need for energy and results in significant savings. With the ever increasing costs of natural gas and fuel oil, insulation on piping and equipment can drastically reduce heat loss/gain providing an immediate reduction in energy use, and increased cost savings.
A properly designed and installed insulation system provides an excellent return on investment and quick payback through cost savings. Adding insulation is a low risk/high reward investment that, if maintained properly, will improve existing conditions for the life of the system. Return on investment is often realized between 6 months and 2 years after the completion of installation.
Condensation on below ambient temperature systems occurs when significantly warmer air and high humidity levels come in contact with the pipe. When uninsulated, improperly insulated, and/or poorly maintained, condensation can lead to serious problems and health concerns including:
Corrosion under insulation(CUI)
CUI has quickly become one of the greatest concerns on existing systems in facilities worldwide. Inadequate insulation material selection, thickness, and/or vapor retarders can lead to insulation becoming wet and, in turn, causing corrosion on piping and rendering the insulation ineffective. Though the detrimental effects of CUI can take years to notice, the results can be catastrophic.
Mold and mildew
Condensation can cause mold and mildew to build up on insulated surfaces, ceiling tiles, and sheetrock. It presents serious health risks to those in the vicinity of the issue and to all if it infiltrates the buildings HVAC system air stream.
Decreased energy efficiency and R-value
When moisture is introduced to an insulation system, thermal efficiency decreases, which results in reduced R-value and ultimately premature system failure. This failure leads to costly repairs which often times are not figured in a facilities budget.
Unsafe conditions for personnel and visitors
Condensation dripping on flooring and equipment can introduce dangerous hazards to personnel which could potentially lead to accidents, injuries, and lost time and production.
Insulation reduces the risk of burns by lowering the surface temperature of hot, and extremely cold, piping and equipment to a safer level. This, effectively, increases worker safety and reduces potential downtime due to worker injury.
Excessive heat in work environments can lead to decreased production, fatigue, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Adding insulation to piping, ductwork, and equipment can dramatically reduce the likeliness of worker fatigue and injury.
Fire and Smoke Prevention
Properly designed and installed insulation on systems such as kitchen hood exhausts, stairwell pressurization exhausts, and chemical hood ductwork are designed to keep fire and smoke hazards contained while keeping personnel and visitors to facilities safe.
Sound attenuating insulation materials can effectively reduce decibel levels from machinery, equipment, piping, and enclosures into OSHA's range of acceptance which improves worker morale and the ability to communicate efficiently.
Insulation jackets used in exposed areas can improve the overall aesthetics of a facility. Jackets can enhance the look of the systems they're covering and help preserve the insulation underneath. PVC jackets can be used in food and pharmaceutical process areas that require regular cleaning and/or wash down maintenance. In areas subject to abuse, aluminum or stainless steel jackets can be used to preserve the integrity of the insulation underneath. Protective jackets are available in various thicknesses to suit the needs of design and customer demand.