Ice Cold Shops: WHY no Heaters?
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  1. #1
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    Default Ice Cold Shops: WHY no Heaters?

    Why are there so many shops that have little or no heat?

    We will spend tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the machines pursuing goals like efficiency, accuracy, and capability. Then we put them in a building in a northern climate which has no heat or only enough to keep it barely above freezing? This is professional???

    I know all about cheap buildings with no insulation and large air leaks about every window and door. But insulation is cheap and so is weather stripping. We are talking about hundreds of dollars, not thousands. A shop heater has got to be the best spent money that your shop will ever see. And adding a thermostat control will aid in maintaining the accuracy that those expensive machines were purchased to provide.

    Over a 45+ year career, every shop that I worked in had heat. They had enough heat so I could work in my shirt sleeves on the coldest day of the year in that location. Most of them also had AC for the summer heat. OK, those were electronic shops, but what is the real difference? I had a personal shop in Iowa. Feet of snow in the winter and the thermometer could hit bottom and keep going down from there. The wind could be horrible. I ran heat all winter long. I lowered the thermostat when I was not there but it still ran. It did not break my personal piggy bank and I don't see how a heater would break a business.

    Moving stuff in and out all the time? Bulletin: they make motorized, overhead doors now. Been around for a year or two, I think. Perhaps there are some who have not heard about them yet.

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    Shop owners are greedy. Ever dollar spent on heat or anything else to make the employees comfortable is a dollar than't doesn't go in there pocket.

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    Shop owners are greedy. Ever dollar spent on heat or anything else to make the employees comfortable is a dollar than't doesn't go in there pocket.
    Or by the time a shop owner pays the building payment, Salaries, Liability insurance, Health insurance, workers comp insurance, property insurance, company vehicle insurance, Property tax, Income tax, Capital gains tax and Machine payments there's not much left over to keep everybody warm and cozy.

    The one thing I don't miss about USA is all the Taxes.

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    24/7 shops should generate enough heat in the machines to heat the building anywhere south of, or maybe including, Canada.

    I like my shop 45 - 50F in the winter. No employees, that's just good working weather for me.

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    I don't understand why, but any industrial buildings built after about 1986 do not have gas lines running to them. My old shop was built in the '50s and had a couple of those Reznor heaters. Nice and toasty.
    Nothing around here even has gas. wtf?

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    Or by the time a shop owner pays the building payment, Salaries, Liability insurance, Health insurance, workers comp insurance, property insurance, company vehicle insurance, Property tax, Income tax, Capital gains tax and Machine payments there's not much left over to keep everybody warm and cozy.

    The one thing I don't miss about USA is all the Taxes.
    Yup, Skinner engine on 12th street in Erie, they claimed they spent $60k each month on heat.

    I was in a large factory that spends upwards of $30k a day on gas when it hits -20f.
    " But insulation is cheap and so is weather stripping. We are talking about hundreds of dollars, not thousands."

    UhHuh… right.

    Pencil out how to insulate these old building with conduits, pipes, crane rails etc all over the place.

    If it don't payback in under 5 years, the bean counters won't doo it, if your not heating, then you have NO payback at all.

    Next thing, you and your kind will want floors in the shop....

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    I think my biggest problem (Aside from taxes and insurance) I was also a metal distributor. At any given time there was 500-1000 tons in the same building as the machine shop. My buildings were built by my grandfather in the 40's out of construction block with 16" floors so by the time 40K square feet of concrete and steel get cold there's not much that can be done to warm the place back up.

    Nothing like grabbing up a oily piece of 1018 CRS at 35 degrees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    Or by the time a shop owner pays the building payment, Salaries, Liability insurance, Health insurance, workers comp insurance, property insurance, company vehicle insurance, Property tax, Income tax, Capital gains tax and Machine payments there's not much left over to keep everybody warm and cozy.

    The one thing I don't miss about USA is all the Taxes.
    Another thing is we are all competing against each other and against China on prices. I am the shop owner here and the IRS and all the employees got paid but Maybe I will get paid next month.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Dickman View Post
    I don't understand why, but any industrial buildings built after about 1986 do not have gas lines running to them. My old shop was built in the '50s and had a couple of those Reznor heaters. Nice and toasty.
    Nothing around here even has gas. wtf?
    Probably gas company doesn't want/can't handle new customers.

    Switch to propane...

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    Do some basic math. Compare the cost to heat one cubic foot of your little shop in the winter time.

    A 10K sq ft building 20 ft tall is 200,000 cu ft

    A 20K sq ft building 40 ft tall is 800,000 cu ft

    My 7K shop is R20 with a few leaks here and there. When it gets below 30 out side it takes a 20KW electric heater and a wood stove the size of a small car to get it up to 50 in here. That heater alone costs about $500 a month in electricity and my rates are dirt cheap compared to most here.

    Also, a cold weekend means monday is going to be a cold one. Takes about 48 hours of heating to get the machines and concrete warmed up.

    I find if I don't heat I get very very bad condensation when we have a temp swing from cold to wet and warm (happens all the time here).

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    I always wonder how 'big box' stores can stay in business, what with their huge interior volume and the doors open all the time.


    Anyway, about 25 years ago I went to the local English car repair shop...it's where the Aston Martins, Jags, etc. are serviced. It's a big, fairly modern place. In the shop, it was cold, cold, cold. I looked up and there were several big gas furnaces sitting idle. I made a comment to one of the older mechanics who was wearing a heavy coat and hat, something like "You think they'd turn those heaters on, eh?"

    To my surprise, and education, he came right back with, "The owner's rule is the first time each year he walks out in the shop and sees the big doors left open, he figures winter must be over so he turns the heaters off the rest of the year. Last month, one of the young dicks left the doors open so off they went. I don't blame him."

    It was then that a lesson really sunk in - there are only two kinds of people in this world - those who pay the utility bills, and those who don't.

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    I find if I don't heat I get very very bad condensation when we have a temp swing from cold to wet and warm (happens all the time here).
    I had to spend a month out there in Wilsonville. doing some Mori installs at Rockmore INTL. and found that is some odd feeling weather inside big building. In the mornings the fog was almost impossible to drive in yet would be decently warm. Get to the factory and was almost like being back in SE Asia. Had that Slimy feeling all day.

    My hats off to you guys that live there full time. Just over a month was enough for me. And not knocking Oregon but who the hell puts red lights at the end of an on ramp? I thought the whole purpose of the ramp was get up to speed before merging with traffic?!?!

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    The pet name for my new shop is the Ice Castle, holy geez that place gets cold! I did get an oil fired heater installed this year, but it was cold already, in 4 hours it would get shop temps to low 60's, but machines were still cold to the touch. Hoping if I fire it off early in fall it can keep the shop comfy, but burner does suck a gallon an hour, so its not going to be cheap, hope to blend in about 30% wmo to cut some cost. Hmm, maybe I should start a go fund me

    P.S. We have no natural gas, the mainline is about 100 miles away, and heating oil this year is running $3 a gallon.

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    Berkeley and San Jose California have banned NG service to new houses. To reduce carbon footprint eventually when electricity is cleaner supplied.? AFAIK they still allow electric dryer service to be installed?
    I understand Blimp hangers can have their own clouds and rain inside.
    Bil lD.
    Last edited by Bill D; 02-06-2020 at 10:08 PM.

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    Cold employees work faster. I kinda like having a cooler shop in the winter and a warmer one in the summer ,, worked a couple years for uncle Sam and it got old fast being 68 degrees every day ,,, no fresh air ever and no sun ..

    As a employer I can advise you to go look how other country's treat there workers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    I think my biggest problem (Aside from taxes and insurance) I was also a metal distributor. At any given time there was 500-1000 tons in the same building as the machine shop. My buildings were built by my grandfather in the 40's out of construction block with 16" floors so by the time 40K square feet of concrete and steel get cold there's not much that can be done to warm the place back up.

    Nothing like grabbing up a oily piece of 1018 CRS at 35 degrees.
    You ain't shittin, thermal mass is real.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    I think my biggest problem (Aside from taxes and insurance) I was also a metal distributor. At any given time there was 500-1000 tons in the same building as the machine shop. My buildings were built by my grandfather in the 40's out of construction block with 16" floors so by the time 40K square feet of concrete and steel get cold there's not much that can be done to warm the place back up.

    Nothing like grabbing up a oily piece of 1018 CRS at 35 degrees.
    I'd wonder if it was actually cheaper to turn the heat off over the weekend.

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    I was a truck mechanic early in my career, most of the shops I worked in had a door at each end of the shop. Low behold there was ALWAYS the A-hole who would open the first door, leave it open drive thru the shop open the door at the opposite end of the shop and leave it open. Created a wind tunnel, but WTF it doesn't get to bad in Chicago during the winter when the Hawk starts blowing. (Listen to, Lou Rawls "Dead End Street,Ode to the Hawk,") Seen fist fights on the verge of breaking out!
    The best shop truck shop I worked in had an annex that you could park about 3 trucks in before you came into the main shop. STEAM HEAT!!!! Park the trucks under a heater for about an hour no more melting snow. Sweet!!
    Then I got into a machine shop and it was part of the same complex as the truck shop. Here once the steam was turned on it would run for about three-four days then a pipe spring a leak and it would be off for a few days. To combat this, when the steam came on we would turn the heat up to about 75. We aimed all the hanging units at the bigger machines and warm them up. When they were warm they would keep the shop warm for a day or two. My Dad worked in this building before the steam heat got installed. One of the bigger lathes was in the iron shop. He told me he was running that lathe and left a can of water next to it for sharping HHS tool bits. Said in the winter it used to freeze over night.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    You ain't shittin, thermal mass is real.
    It also works both ways. My house stays nice and warm for many hours without power outage. - a radiant concrete floor has a lot of thermal mass.
    I started out in an outdoor structural steel place in New England, just a huge open shed with iron workers- that place got cold in the winter. Snow blowing through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by g-coder05 View Post
    And not knocking Oregon but who the hell puts red lights at the end of an on ramp? I thought the whole purpose of the ramp was get up to speed before merging with traffic?!?!
    I believe you are referring to "metering lights" which control the rate at which traffic flows onto the freeway during peak commute hours. They are only used during heavy traffic conditions. Helps to control backups (in theory). Otherwise you get up to speed only to come to a dead stop once you're on the freeway. At least that's what they're for in California.


    As to the original topic, we always heated our shop to the best of our ability, and cooled too. If it went over 40 deg. C (104 F.) I just sent everybody home. It's hard to do precision work with sweat in your eyes.

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