Learn How Efficiency Increases Profitability.
(And Why “Costlier” Energy Efficient Products Can Help You Make More Money!)
Start here. Learn about some of the products, systems and solutions to make a car wash operation more energy- and cost-efficient. Have a question not listed here – call or email us!
There are many reasons why a de-icing system benefits its owners.
- CONTINUOUS OPERATIONS | The first reason is so you can continue to wash cars. Ice buildup on the lot, bays, or equipment may keep it from operating effectively.
- LESS EXPENSIVE, MORE EFFECTIVE THAN SALT | Melting snow and ice can be less expensive and more effective and environmentally friendly than using mechanical and chemical alternatives. The most obvious of these alternatives would be salt. When it snows or gets cold enough to freeze the water coming out of the car wash, operators will throw down bags of rock salt to either melt the remaining snow or keep the water from freezing. This has its downfalls, however. If you are a full-service operator, you have probably witnessed the drive-off person trudging through the salty exit pad and stepping right onto the drivers side floor mats that the workers at the vacuums just got done cleaning. Worse than that, do your customers have to walk through that same salty exit pad to retrieve their car?
- AVOID CHEMICAL DAMAGE TO CONCRETE & LANDSCAPE | Salt and/or other de-icing chemicals will do damage to your lot, and may kill surrounding landscaping. Concrete has high strength when it is compressed, or ‘squeezed’. However, it is extremely weak when it is subjected to tension, or ‘pulled’. Salt can take advantage of this weakness. Although concrete appears to be a very dense material, it can and does absorb water.
When you spread salt on your concrete to melt snow and ice, the salt dissolves the snow and makes a salt water mush. The melting action of the salt allows water to enter the concrete. If the temperature then drops and the water freezes, the growing ice crystals can blast apart the concrete. And since salt is also hygroscopic, it attracts and retains water. It can cause concrete to become more saturated with water than it would otherwise. The presence of this extra water in freezing conditions is the problem. The volume of water increases by 9 percent when it freezes within the concrete matrix. The pressure of the growing ice crystals can cause the surface of the concrete to fail. It usually chips off.
Freshly poured concrete is most susceptible to damage. Concrete placed in the late fall needs at least 30 days of drying time. Ironically, this is the time when most car wash construction is happening. This young concrete is still highly saturated with water. The water within the concrete can freeze and cause the surface to pop off.
- REDUCE PLOW COSTS & DAMAGES | Even before the salt goes down, heavy snows must be pushed aside. So you’re faced with a crew full of shovels or the quick and handy snow plow. Both cost money and time. And although the plow is quick, it is also heavy and made of a material which is tougher than concrete. Inevitably, it will nick up your lot. Some may say “nicking” up the lot is an understatement, as some plows obviously do worse damage than others.
- ATTRACT CUSTOMERS | Radiant snow melt systems keep your facility looking nice. Are you in an area that is well kept and demands aesthetics? More importantly, do you have an upscale customer base? Some operators have installed radiant systems for this fact alone. Customers appreciate a clean walkway and will remember that when they leave.
- REDUCE LIABILITY, BETTER PREMIUMS | Keeping your facility ice-free is also a big liability reducer. The cost of a system can pay for itself by preventing legal action toward you. In addition, many insurance companies see the immense value in these systems. This could mean substantial discounts on your premiums.
An inhibited Propylene or Ethylene Glycol solution should be used. Make sure the glycol used is rated for hydronic radiant heating systems and not for automotive engines. Hydronic glycols are formulated differently for the metals seen in boilers, pumps and other system components.
Glycol systems should be checked at least once a year to ensure the system pH levels have not dropped below recommended levels. Glycol in general is acidic. The inhibitors that are added to them help neutralize the system pH, and help protect the system components. As the system ages, the inhibitors break down, causing the system pH to drop. At this point more inhibitors should be added to the radiant floor heating and snow melt systems. The system will reach a point where it will require a complete flush and re-fill. This is usually around 5-7 years, but will depend on the glycol used.
Controls are chosen mainly on how the car wash owner/project owner wants their system to respond to changes in outside conditions and on operational ease. Most systems will use a type of relay control with standard thermostats. More advanced systems will use outdoor sensors to anticipate climate changes. These systems are called outdoor reset and they tend to operate more efficiently, but they do cost a bit more.
Carwash Boilers, Inc. uses cross-linked polyethylene, or PEX.
- The molecular structure of PEX offers toughness, flexibility and lasting durability.
- PEX is corrosion resistant and virtually maintenance free.
- This PEX tubing withstands temperatures ranging from below freezing to 180 degrees F @ 100 PSI.
- PEX is manufactured to meet the American Standard Testing Method for cross-linked Polyethylene Tubing (ASTM F 876) and all sizes are made to the Standard Dimension Ratio for plastic pipes, SDR 9.
- PEX has an oxygen barrier around it to help prevent corrosion to ferrous components in your system.
The tubing is laid 12″ on center in most cases. Any spacing greater than this will cause some “striping” to occur. Lengths of the tubing runs, called circuits, are kept under 200′. For multiple circuits, the lengths should be designed to be within a 10% differential.
At the heart of a snow melt system is a boiler. The boiler heats the water, and pumps circulate it through the tubing — a form of radiant heating, but for the outdoors! The whole process is regulated by controls, so that heat won’t be wasted. Control schemes vary in sophistication. At the low end are manually operated “on/off” controls, while the more sophisticated control schemes are automated.
This will vary depending on the square footage to be heated and your geographic location. But as a general rule of thumb, multiply the heated area by 125. This will give you the BTU load of your system.
Skid-mounted systems save you money! Save you time! What else can we say? When Carwash Boilers, Inc. skid-mounts your Lochinvar boilers, you can be assured that the piping is done correctly. The units come to you ready to be hooked up.
Direct-vented boilers run at a higher thermal efficiency, meaning less of your heating dollars are escaping up the stack.
- Multiple stage firing is usually standard on these units. Staging saves gas consumption and prolongs the life of the boiler.
- These units run quieter because of their sealed combustion chamber, and they emit much cleaner air than their less efficient brothers.
- Lastly, because they are not relying on the free flow of air for combustion, but a fan-induced flow instead, the boilers take up a much smaller footprint and require lesser clearances. This saves space in tight equipment rooms.
Contact us or a distributor to see how we can help you be more profitable in your car wash business. CLICK HERE to find a Carwash Boilers, Inc. distributor in your area.