Taking care of business - Building NZ
Taking care of business

Taking care of business

Ensuring frost heave doesn’t impact your bottom line.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

As most of us would know, thanks to high school science classes, water expands when it freezes and forms six-sided crystalline structures, which is why, on wintry mornings you see frost on the ground.

What you may not know, or have had any reason to take into account, is that there are some pretty intense forces at play during that expansion process and that they can have some fairly dramatic effects on the immediate surroundings—otherwise known as frost heave.

Now, in an open environment, the effect of frost heave is generally fairly mild but in a closed environment, say under the freezer unit of a large-scale commercial facility, the effects can be catastrophic if not detected in time, says Todd Bowmast of Warm NZ.

Warm NZ underfloor heating is much more economic to run than electric underfloor systems.

Beating the freeze

“Most refrigerated facilities consistently operate at temperatures below freezing and are, typically, slab-on-grade construction, none of which is problematic in and of itself. However, any water ingress under that slab has the potential to freeze if it is allowed to settle. If this happens over a sustained period of time, the slab itself will become susceptible to frost heave, which will not only eventually destroy the slab but could also cause further structural problems within the facility. 

“I have witnessed firsthand the effects of frost heave—everything from damage to foundations through to floors cracking and lifting to the point forklifts could not operate in the freezers. This not only puts workers at risk, it can lead to the loss of the facility itself. Either way, frost heave has the potential to seriously jeopardise business as usual.”

The solution, Todd says, is underfloor heating. “Warm NZ has ample experience installing underfloor heating systems in commercial buildings—everything from 96m2 to 4000m2-plus. We recently completed a project in East Tamaki that required 9km of underfloor heating.”

Warm NZ underfloor systems are all custom designed by qualified heating engineers.

Calling in the experts

Warm NZ works closely with REHAU, specialists in designing hydronic underfloor heating systems.

“Warm NZ is a REHAU authorised partner and works in conjunction with them as the installer of hydronic heating projects throughout the country,” says Todd.

“Hydronic heating is one of the most energy efficient heating systems there is and can be made even more so as it’s possible to utilise waste heat from the freezing process—effectively, free energy—to heat the water in the system."

Warm NZ works with main contractors and construction companies on the installation and are experts in multistage deployments.

“Whatever your requirements, Warm NZ has a solution backed up by not only our years of experience and expertise but by our network of global partners and local installers.”

Learn more about underfloor heating.

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