Improve Your Air

You’ve done your testing and your facility has an air quality problem. Stepping through your doors feel like getting a tour of an 1890s steam powered factory. It’s just gross and you’re going to turn your air into something people actually want to breathe. Physical Defenses Your first line of defense is to attack everything getting inside with some physical mitigations. Every person entering the building is going to carry allergens, pathogens, and other problems with them. Imagine someone who just walked through a grassy field, tracking pollen with every step they take. Imagine the gentle breeze blowing through the door as your guests enter, and carrying with it the latest plague to sweep the nation. There are two defenses you can use here. First, you need a nice, big, hefty door mat of some kind, that everyone ends up walking across. They’re tracking pollen on their shoes, make sure it gets stuck where it won’t cause a problem: in a fibrous tangle where it’ll never bother you again. Second, you need to regularly clean the floors of your facility. All the nasty stuff in the air is hovering around, suspended like tea leaves in water. If the air is still long enough, it’ll all settle on your shelves, floors, and equipment until someone kicks it up into the air again. Use microfiber mops to capture and remove the problem while you can. Don’t use a typical broom though, that’s […]

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Indoor Air Quality

Heating your facility is important. It’s probably in the top ten most essential things to keep your workers and customers happy. It’s not the only thing. Warm air is useless if people can’t stand to breathe it in. Over time, air will get stale and become unpleasant to breathe. We need to not only heat the air, but clean it. What Is Stale Air? The air around you isn’t pure (unless you’re in a hyperbaric chamber, but that’s an entirely different can of worms). More accurately, the air we breathe is more like being in the ocean: it’s full of microscopic things floating around. If you’ve seen sea water, you usually see little things carried around in it. The same is true for air, but most of the things floating us are too small to see. Typically the air in a busy facility will be carrying: Skin Flakes and Hair Bacteria Viruses Mold Trace Chemicals (from cleaners, machinery, etc) Vaporized Sweat Chemicals from Oral Bacteria (Bad Breath) Particulates from Fabric, Food, and Product Offgassing Air becomes stale largely as a result of all these things becoming to abundant. The human body is incredibly perceptive to these things. We can smell, taste, and even feel that the air is not clean. There’s no way to just hide the problem either. Some scents can be fought off with aerosols, candles, and other products that alter the air. The only problem is that […]

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A Crappy Tunnel

Once upon a time our public rivers and streams were essentially our sewers. In the 1800s, it wasn’t uncommon to essentially leave waste in the streets and let it get washed into the river by the rain. In the 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for public sewers to dump raw sewage into the nearest major body of water. In some places, this is even still common practice. In the 1980s, Boston Harbor was one of these places. The Grossest Harbor in the Country Boston’s original sewer system dumped raw sewage 500 feet off the coast line. The belief at the time was that the ocean was so vast that the sewage would be harmlessly diluted. It was the 1800s and Boston was a smaller place back then. For a few decades, the system worked, but as the population grew, it became impossible to wash away that much waste. The entire harbor was soon contaminated with excrement and all the biohazards millions of sick and healthy people produce every day. By the 1940s the contamination was becoming evident, with cloudy, gross water in the harbor. By the 1950s there was some waste treatment, but it wouldn’t be able to keep up with Boston’s growing output. It takes time and space to treat waste like this, and the plants that were built didn’t have enough of either to keep things running smoothly forever. On days when the plants couldn’t keep up, the sewage […]

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Don’t Underestimate a Hurricane

Today’s blog post is once more, early for the pending hurricane in the Carolinas. We will return to your regularly scheduled blogging later next week. Hurricane Florence has weakened to a category 2 storm, but it is no less deadly. It might be worse than if it had remained a category 4 and kept moving.   The Category System There are a lot of factors that go into how strong a storm is. We don’t have an easy system to boil this down to a master deadliness rating. There’s the amount of rain, the storm surge, the wind, the size of it, how long it’s going to impact a given area, and more. If we had a complex system that factored in everything, the average person wouldn’t be able to understand the taxonomy and understand the storm. As a result, we build our hurricane categories on one factor alone: windspeed. We start out with tropical depressions and tropical storms, then work our way up to faster and faster winds, all the way up to roaring 150mph+ category 5 storms. The wind is a predictable, understandable factor. We know the faster the wind gets, the more damage there will be. In some ways, the wind speed is a measure of how much energy is in a storm. This is an understandable set up. You see Category 5 and you know the storm is gonna be a whipping bulldozer that levels everything […]

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How to Prepare for a Hurricane

This week’s blog post is coming out early. We at Procure Inc feel that knowledge can save lives and in times of emergency, the least we can do is spread useful knowledge to anyone in need. Everyone in the path of Hurricane Florence, stay safe and good luck.   How Bad Is The Hurricane? The first thing to know about surviving a hurricane is to know what a hurricane is and just how bad things will get. In a sense, you can think of the hurricane as a tornado about the size of Texas. There will be extreme wind, rain, and flooding. The air is going to move so fast that it will literally rip the roofs off homes. Tree branches, parts of houses, and anything not tied down is going to become airborne. If the wind doesn’t directly hurt you, the debris will, and if the debris doesn’t, significant portions of the state will be underwater. Hurricane Florence is expected to become a Category 5 hurricane. The steady wind speeds will exceed 160 miles per hour. If you had a small airplane, you probably would “hover” if you flew into the wind or even end up flying backwards. There is no stronger category of storm, though there has been consideration for a category 6 to be made. Storms of this size are basically flying bulldozers. Homes will be demolished or washed away. Electrical service will be wiped out. Trees […]

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High Voltage in AC

Your air conditioner (and whole HVAC system) are a strange mix of parts. On the one side, we have low voltage, DC electronics that couldn’t tickle a fly. On the other, we have high voltage, AC equipment that could turn an ill-prepared reptile or rodent into a charred chunk of bones. How exactly do we mate these two, different systems together safely?   The Safety Issue In all electronics, we strive to separate high voltage and low voltage. We don’t want them to touch each other. In some systems, you have no choice but to put high and low voltage equipment on the same board, in other cases you try to keep them on separate boards altogether. If there’s any sort of electrical short between high voltage and low voltage, the low side is going to get destroyed. That’s your best case scenario. 240 volts or 440 volts blasting into some tiny microprocessors and capacitors, which then explode in a terrifying, but mostly harmless show of pyrotechnics. If the board is really well built, a diode will take the brunt of the failure before anything scary does. Sometimes though, these shorts don’t go like that. Some older equipment or equipment which never passed any reviews like Underwriters’ Laboratories can send high voltage straight to frame components, a button, or other areas where a user could come in contact with it. 220 Volts is not a pleasant experience, let me tell […]

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Fool Resistant Design in Fire Sprinklers

Today we have a funny story and a bit of a humorous take on why concealed sprinklers are better than exposed sprinklers. Let’s first cover a bit of background on these sprinklers and where the big problems come in.   Anatomy of a Fire Sprinkler Sprinklers are designed to be nearly fool proof and as close to failure proof as possible. This means they have to be simple and physics have to be the main source of actuation. To start with, you’ll have all the sprinkler piping, which is pressurized, often by gravity pulling water downwards from higher floors and by the pumps keeping the system full and ready to go.  There’s enough force on the water to dump 100+ gallons per minute for several minutes after a sprinkler goes off without needing any additional pressure from the pump. The sprinkler head itself is a work of genius. The pipe comes up to it, and it’s blocked off by one of two things: a bi-metal plate or a vial of typically red fluid. These are things we can design to break in response to heat. When they break, water blasts out, hits a spreader, and is blasted out over several feet around the sprinkler head. This is almost as fool proof as something can ever be. Fire means heat and heat rises. There’s almost no scenario where there can be a fire that the sprinklerhead won’t break. You can choose […]

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Electrical Fire Safety

There are a ton of safety devices that are preventing you from being shocked, from starting fires, and from destroying expensive equipment. The problem is, no matter how many safety devices we put in the building, something is always going to go wrong. When things go wrong, it’s essential to be prepared for the absolute worst.   Causes of Electrical Fires The absolute root cause of electrical fires always comes down to energy. The copper wiring carries electricity, electricity is energy. The movement of electricity always creates heat. More electricity means more heat. When things go wrong, there’s too much electricity or not enough insulation to contain the electricity, or some other fault that allows heat to build up or electrical arcs to occur and start a fire. This can happen any number of ways. There can be an electrical short, perhaps water getting into a non-GFCI bathroom or kitchen outlet. There could be something shoved into a socket that really doesn’t belong there, thanks to an overly curious toddler. There can be corrosion, causing an electrical short. It could even be down to a cheaply made product skipping out on essential internal safeties (this happens more often than most people realize). In all of these cases, there’s going to be a battle on two fronts.   Stopping the Power and the Fire If you’re not quite thinking straight, you might try to extinguish an electrical fire with water. The […]

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What Causes Electrical Arcing?

Most everyone in the world has seen an electrical arc. Lightning, certain short circuits, and other times when there is literally electricity moving through the air are all Arc Flashes. We’re going to look into the fundamental causes of electrical arcing.   Moving Power Electricity is essentially a charge being conducted through a wire. All electrical charges want to disperse as quickly as possible. They’re like water behind a dam: it always wants to get out. In the case of electricity, the charge wants to disperse, positive to negative. It always wants to get to ground. The problem with this is that we want to actually use the electrical charge, so it can’t go straight to ground. We use insulators to keep the electricity essentially safely inside the wire. Without the insulator, the charge would get out and work it’s way to ground like water out of a burst pipe following gravity. Insulators can be a wide range of things. The rubber casing around wire is it’s insulator. The gigantic, ceramic cones on utility poles are insulators that prevent the charge from trying to discharge into the wooden pole. The air itself is also an insulator. Electricity generally does not want to move through the air. This is why we can have electrical sockets exposed to the open air, but not to water. The air won’t easily conduct an electrical charge but the water will. Water isn’t a great conductor, […]

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