Controlling the temperature and humidity inside a cold storage room is important, but so is controlling the temperature outside its concrete slabs, especially underneath its flooring.
Cold rooms are prone to frost heaves that form when moisture from the ground condenses and freezes below the cold room’s flooring. These icy formations can damage the building structure and compromise operations. This is the reason concrete freezer floor repair companies do not use ordinary concrete slabs as is but add special features like insulation and heating to prevent frost heaves.
The Problem of Frost Heaves
When your cold room floor reaches freezing point, it attracts moisture from the ground beneath it. This moisture forms frost heaves, which expand over time. This build-up could eventually push the floor up, cause cracks, displace concrete slabs and lift the building’s footing. It’s especially true for freezers built directly on the ground since soil tends to carry lots of moisture.
If it’s left unaddressed, this condition can misalign pallet racks, make tracks uneven, cause gaps in doorways, and result in other inconvenient building irregularities, which can slow down work and cause accidents.
If your facility shows telltale signs of the presence of frost heaves, such as cracked and bowed floors, your floor insulation and heating may not be working efficiently. It’s time to fix them to prevent further frost heave damage.
Insulation and Heating as the Solution
Cold rooms need insulated concrete floor slabs and a heating system underneath or inside them to prevent frost heaves. How does this work?
Warm moist air beneath a cold storage floor rises and comes in contact with the cold freezer floor slab. It then cools, causing condensation and accumulation of moisture beneath the floor. To keep this from happening, insulation in the concrete slab provides a barrier that keeps cold air inside the freezer and warm moist air beneath the concrete.
However, an insulated floor slab is not enough to keep moisture from rising to the cold storage floor. The ground below needs to be warmed as well above the freezing point to maintain the temperature below the floor and prevent condensation always. An underfloor heating system will come in handy in this situation.
Underfloor Heating Options
There are different kinds of underfloor heating mechanisms you can choose from.
Electric heat – You can install an electric heat trace in the concrete sub-slab. By monitoring the temperature of the sub-slab, you can switch the heating on or off depending on the temperature of the sub-slab. An electric heat trace is easy to install, monitor, and replace. It’s affordable to install but costly to run and maintain. For one, you need to pay for electricity. Secondly, maintenance and monitoring can’t be done by just anybody; you need to hire adequately trained personnel to handle the job.
Heated glycol – A warmed fluid like glycol can be pumped through pipes to distribute heat. What’s great about this system is that it absorbs and recycles waste heat from condensers. Also, maintenance is easy for regular personnel. The problems you may encounter are pipe clogging, leakage, and challenging repairs.
Vent pipes – Vent pipes or forced ventilation makes use of 6- to 8-inch diameter pipes and a fan to push air through ductwork. This is the least expensive to install and maintain. However, this method poses several problems like ductwork clogging, deterioration, and costly repairs, to name a few.
Frost heaves may look harmless at the onset but are known to cause significant property damage and costly repairs. Heating your cold storage flooring sounds counterintuitive, but now you know that it is necessary to prevent frost heaves from developing beneath your cold storage.