Temporary Heating Options for Your Construction Site: Direct vs. Indirect Heaters

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Choosing the wrong type of temporary heater – or installing or using it incorrectly – could spell disaster for your construction site, causing damage to your property and materials or even injuries to your valued workers.

That’s why making an informed decision about a temporary heating solution for your construction site is so important. Let’s take a look at some pros, cons, and tips for using two of the most common temporary heating devices – indirect- and direct-fired space heaters.

Indirect-fired heaters

In an indirect fired heater, the heating unit is placed outside the building; fuel (usually propane, natural gas, or diesel fuel) is burned inside the unit, then pushed via ducts into the building.

Pros: Low risk for fire or carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
Cons: Higher operating cost due to lower efficiency

Tips for using indirect-fired temporary heating:

  • Always place Indirect-fired heaters on stable ground
  • For gas-powered equipment, all fuel line piping must comply with American Gas Association (AGA) standards and secured against damage
  • All fuel tanks should be placed behind jersey barriers or protective bollards
  • Flue stacks should be positioned away from flammable materials in locations where exhaust fumes cannot re-enter the workspace
  • All equipment should be inspected and maintained regularly by a qualified temporary heating service company

Direct-fired heaters

Direct-fired heaters (such as salamander and torpedo models) are portable, super-efficient heating units. The problem with direct-fired heaters is that their flame is exposed to open air. This leads to two considerable risks: the potential for fire and the potential for CO build-up, which can pose a serious health threat for employees.

Pros: Powerful, easy to transport, and relatively cheap to run
Cons: Potential fire and CO hazard

Tips for using direct-fired temporary heating:

  • Never use direct-fired heaters inside a wood frame structure
  • Place heaters on a non-combustible surface that extends at least four feet in front of the unit; see manufacturer’s instructions for details
  • Secure portable units to prevent movement
  • Make sure all safety measures (flame sensors, pilot safety valves, etc.) work
  • Never refuel units within 50 feet of the building
  • Never store combustible material near your temporary heaters
  • Install CO and gas leak detectors as required by building safety codes

The bottom line

Whether you need a temporary heat to keep your employees warm, prevent frozen water pipes, or maintain the climate needed by your construction materials, you’ll need to choose the right heating equipment to do the job safely. The temporary heating professionals at Hocon will help you do just that.

Let Hocon help you keep your construction project on schedule and on budget this winter and spring, with automatic propane deliveries and more for your temporary heating equipment. Contact us today to learn more.

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