Many contractors in the northern climates tend to work inside over the winter months since pouring and digging foundations can prove to be hopeless when the ground is frozen. At the same time, pouring concrete in these conditions can result in structural problems once the ground starts to thaw. This is when extra warmth ground heaters also known as ground thawing equipment can be useful
What Is A Ground Heater?
A ground heater is a portable unit that is used to thaw frozen ground and heat the surface, which allows contractors to perform foundation and excavation work once the temperature has dropped. Ground thawing equipment lowers the stress placed on equipment when working in these conditions and softens the soil which makes in-the-dirt tasks a bit less labor-intensive.
Ground Thawing Equipment Types And How They Work
The ground heaters are available in two primary types:
⦁ Hydronic Heaters
The glycol heaters or hydronic ground heaters include a pump, a blower fan, a boiler, and an extended hose that contains a mixture of propylene glycol. The heating-hose will be laid out over the surface that requires heating in evenly-spaced loops. The boiler performs the role of heating the propylene-glycol mixture, which is then pumped into the hose so that it can heat the surface or the ground. The blower fan performs the function of blowing extra warm air over the surface. The hose is also covered with a vapor barrier which is designed to keep the moisture generated inside.
Hydronic ground heaters efficiently cover large areas with minimal heat. The models with a 3,000-foot hose are capable of covering 6,000 square feet.
⦁ Ground Thawing Blankets
The ground thawing blanket is like an electric blanket that is used for warming frozen surfaces or frozen earth. These blankets are used over surfaces or heavy equipment to ensure the engine is kept warm. These blankets are also easy to move from one worksite area to another provided there is a power outlet closeby.
What Are The Common Uses Of Ground Heaters?
Ground heaters have several uses when it comes to keeping constructions sites going during the months of winter”
⦁ Remove Or Prevent Ground Frost
When it comes to removing ground frost the ground heater hose is positioned over the soil and then first covered by a vapor-barrier and then an insulation blanket. This is a method that can potentially thaw around 6-inches of frost over a 24-hour period, which can eliminate 3.5 feet of frost in the space of 7 days.
⦁ Cure Concrete
Concrete needs to cure once it has been poured. If the concrete is allowed to freeze, these curing processes take a lot longer and can result in cracks or uneven curing. Freezing can also lower the strength of the concrete by as much as 50%.
Hydronic ground heaters can be used at the location of the pour to heat the earth to between 85 and 90 degrees. Once the concrete is poured, these heaters are also used to maintain the temperature of the concrete until it has reached a desirable strength.
⦁ De-Ice Surfaces
The ground thawing blankets are also commonly used to de-ice worksite walkways, sidewalks, and many other surfaces. They are also used for melting snow that collects on roofs or thawing frozen pipes.
⦁ Warm The Air For Contractors And Workers
In colder weather, the productivity of workers will also suffer. Ground-heating systems can also create ambient extra warm air for the workers in a small enclosure or dried-in and well-insulated areas. The hose that is usually laid on top of the ground or concrete will be connected to the portable fan coil or heat exchanger. The air will blown across a heated coil into the desired space or a setup of multiple heat exchangers will be used across several spaces.