06 October 2021
The Top Five Pitfalls of Smoke Ventilation Maintenance and How to Combat Them
06 October 2021
Bradley Crisp, Senior Industrial and Smoke Sales at Elta Applied Technology
When it comes to smoke ventilation it requires a thorough approach to servicing in order to ensure optimum operational effectiveness. I sat down with my colleague Josh Waitt, Sales Engineer at Elta Applied Technology to discuss the five common traps we often fall into with our smoke ventilation maintenance:
- Fitting and forgetting
Our smoke ventilation systems are the most important component in providing a level of reassurance across all applications, and are an integral part of building safety. However, as a result of only being required in worst-case scenarios, we are often guilty of neglecting the necessary ongoing maintenance or servicing, thus resulting in lower operational effectiveness and putting occupants at higher risk of danger.
- Incorrect storage
Right from the outset it is important that our smoke ventilation products are correctly stored. Often, when part of a larger project these fans are not immediately installed and they are instead left to sit on site for up to several weeks, or even months. In these circumstances, it is vital that they are kept in the right environment to prevent long-term damage or a reduction in performance.
Furthermore, you should keep the fan in a clean, dry area, and free from corrosive fumes, vibration, and dust. Special care should also be taken in avoiding temperature fluctuations; a good tip would be to remove any shrink wrap that may have been used to house the product during transportation. This typically acts like a greenhouse meaning it gets excessively hot in the sun, and can encourage condensation to form.
I’d also advise rotating the impeller on a monthly basis, and make sure it definitely does not return back it to its original position to prevent grease separation and damage to the bearings. In cases where fans must be stored for more than two years, bearings and grease lines should be flushed and repacked with fresh grease.
- Lack of ongoing servicing
Once in place, without regular checking and inspection of the equipment, including all parts of the system, the operational lifespan on the fan can be significantly decreased. As a general rule, inspection of the equipment should take place every six months, including the testing of AVs, spinning the impeller, and checking the running current.
- Failing to pass on the responsibility
As with any project, it can be difficult to place it in the hands of another once your role has come to an end. One of the biggest challenges for contractors, engineers, and anyone else tasked with installing systems is that once it is in the possession of end-users, you effectively lose sight of it. This is where it is important to stress the responsibility that the system owners have to ensure the fans remain operational. If smoke ventilation is not correctly maintained, they need to be aware that they risk becoming liable.
- Not following guidance
With so many components to consider with our smoke ventilation systems, you can be forgiven for finding it difficult to keep up and follow all the best practices. Our installation and maintenance manuals have all the guidance and best practices you need. For example, we would recommend that motor bearings are replaced after 20,000 hours of operation, or depending on whichever’s earlier, five years of service in normal, ambient conditions.
Other areas of note include the rule of three:
- An insulation test every three months
- Checking the tightness of fixings every three years
- Cleaning the impellers every three years
For more arduous environments such as transport or marine in which there is likely to be vibration and shock, maintenance checks should be more regular.
Finally, it is vital that a maintenance record is kept and best practice is followed. It is also important to note that all maintenance work must be carried out by the manufacturer’s ‘authorised representative’.