Shop Ventilation
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Joined: 01 Jul 2007
Posts: 42
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:27 am    Post subject: Shop Ventilation Reply with quote

I posted this question in the "Other" category but have gotten no response. So I am posting it here, where I know there is more traffic.

I am moving into a new workshop which does not have good natural ventilation. (Lots of potential, though--15 windows that are glass block. Eventually I will exchange for operable windows and security bars.) But that limitation only accentuates the fact that, even if I did have good natural ventilation, I still need to upgrade my system to minimize exposure to lead dust and fumes. (My company, Oak Brothers, is dedicated to the restoration of architectural wood. While we do all forms of interior wood restoration--doors, trim, built-ins, fireplaces, etc...--windows have become our bread and butter.)

The problem is that information and/or expertise is hard to come by. I contacted an Industrial Hygienist, thinking that was the person who could help me. But no, she said that designing systems wasn't her realm of expertise?!!? Everyone else I contacted said the same thing.

I need "at source" capture and extraction of both particles and fumes. But I'm stymied how you combine these two things when, for instance, engaging in heat gun removal of paint. (Note: I am taking John's recommendation to heart about steam paint removal. I have had success with this procedure on wood that has been previously varnished. But it still seems slow-going on wood with no protective coat of varnish.) Sanding procedures require particle extraction. (My Fein shop vac. with a hepa filter does a good job when attached to a palm sander, but not good enough.) Although we primarily use CitrusSTrip for chemical paint removal (and being a "safe" stripper, it doesn't need much ventilation...?), but we do use a fair amount of denatured alcohol to wash away the chemicals and neutralize the wood. The oil-based paints and solvents and oil-based varnishes we use also need fume ventilation.

Then there is the issue of make-up air. I've finally figured out there are heated make-up air systems. But how does one determine what is adequate for one's space? (My total shop space will be 1500 sq. ft., though 500 of it will likely be storage area.)

I gotta figure I'm not the first craftsperson who has faced this hurdle. I'm eager to learn what other shops have done to solve the challenge of safe and responsible ventilation! Has anyone hired someone to work this out for them? If so, where did you find the company and was it worth the price? What have you done on your own that has worked?

I AM in consultation with a filtration company with a rep. who is sympathetic to my cause. He has the expertise, for sure, but they are essentially an equipment company...and prices aren't cheap, though the equipment is impressive. He is recommending purchasing two source-capture machines with extension arms and bell capture for collecting fumes, then leaving these same machines on all day to act as air scrubbers. But the price he gave me was $7,500 a piece! When all is said and done, I'll be lucky to get set up for $20,000.

Not that my health and the health of my employees isn't worth the money. But that's a lot of pennies to be shelling out!
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