Ground Thaw Heating Case Study

In northern climates, working on construction projects in the open can be quite daunting not only because of the low ambient temperatures, but also because any work that has to be carried out on the ground gets made that much more difficult because the ground gets frozen and they need a heat surfaces rather.

Contractors often prefer to do work indoors on very cold days, but this is only possible if the construction has reached the stage where such work is needed to be carried out. This can require the ground to be thawed so that it is ready to be worked on, or for concrete to be laid on it. Ground that has frozen is difficult to work on, and can even lead to damage to any excavation equipment used for the purpose. This can lead to down times of equipment and high costs. It is not advisable to pour concrete on frozen ground, as once the frozen ground does thaw, it will settle and cause cracks in the concrete. Low temperatures also make it difficult for the concrete to cure.

So, what does an enlightened project manager do in these circumstances? He looks for the right type of ground heater that can thaw out the frozen ground. These are in most cases, portable units that can heat surfaces, so that the soil surface can be worked on after the temperature in it has been controlled. Softening of the soil in this fashion can make it easier for equipment to be used on it.

Ground thawing equipment can be similar to covering yourself with a blanket to keep warm and allowing your body to provide the needed heat while it is trapped. Ground thawing blankets use electrical energy to heat the blanket that is laid out on the ground that needs to be thawed. They can be moved from place to place as the work progresses, so that all the required ground area is heated and made available for any further excavation or concrete work.

The other form of ground thawing equipment being commonly used is a flexible hose laid on the ground or even in it, through which hot water or other heated solution is circulated, so that the ground gets heated and comes to a workable temperature. Boilers and pumps are used to heat and circulate the liquid being used. The one great advantage of such hydronic systems is that large areas can be covered. Blankets where used are quite heavy, cover smaller areas, and not easy to maintain. Using them along with the hydronic system can lead to better results.

A hydronic system coupled with blankets can thaw 6 inches of frost every day, and eliminate frost in 3.5 feet in a week, making it easy then for any required excavation to take place. You then do not have to wait for the warmth of spring to thaw your frozen ground. Such ground heating systems can also be used to cure concrete and prevent the water in freshly placed concrete from freezing and causing cracks. As a bonus, these systems create an ambient temperature around them that workers find very warming and where they are enclosed, can make things and working very cozy and comfortable.

You can also use such ground heating devices to remove ice from sidewalks, to thaw frozen underground water pipes, or even to melt snow that has accumulated on roofs. They allow for an extended work season for construction so that winter is never a hindrance. It helps to reduce strain on workers and equipment, reduces risk of injuries, allows schedules to be maintained, and keeps constant temperatures so that concrete is able to cure correctly while gaining strength.