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Damper maintenance – knowledge is power

09 November 2017

Brakel Airvent launches Check+Protect, which includes its latest Damper Data File (an enhanced recording and reporting option) to keep fire and smoke damper maintenance in check.

Brakel Airvent has announced Check+Protect – an innovative approach to fire and smoke damper maintenance and management that combines all possible client requirements into one flexible service, making it easier for ‘the responsible person’ (e.g. building owner, compliance officer, facilities manager etc.) to make sure that all elements of damper servicing are carried out and recorded efficiently and on time, ensuring their legislative compliance.

About dampers

HVAC ductwork is a necessity of modern building design – a way of transporting air between rooms and building zones and keeping the building and its occupants healthy and comfortable.

But when a fire breaks out, that very ductwork becomes a potential hazard; there’s no point having fire doors or fire-resistant construction zones if there are deliberate channels provided for smoke, hot air and flames to pass through.

In such a situation there’s a danger the ducting system will become a distribution system spreading hazardous smoke throughout a building and undermining all efforts to confine it and quickly deal with the cause of the blaze.

That’s where dampers come in. A requirement under the government’s Approved Document B, dampers are louvered vents or shutters situated at key points within the ducting system.

In normal, everyday conditions they are inert, simply allowing the flow of air through them and not interfering in the system at all.

But if a fire starts, they come into their own. They slam shut, blocking the duct and preventing smoke from passing through for a period of up to hours – in theory more than enough time to facilitate occupant escape and fire fighter entry.

The big problem

The challenge is that dampers generally work fine when they’re first installed.

But often the details of these installations aren’t properly recorded or can be lost over time, so building owners are left without a clear idea of exactly how many dampers are in their building or where exactly they can be found.

And, naturally, if the damper situation is vague, the maintenance history gets really vague. Dampers, like any piece of life safety equipment, need care and attention to make sure they’re able to function in the way that’s expected of them.

This situation is heightened by the fact that – unlike something like a fire alarm or smoke curtain – dampers are generally not on display and are frequently incredibly difficult to physically access (seriously, contractors, please consider maintenance when you’re installing this stuff!).

Here’s a worst-case scenario that we’ve bumped up against more times than we care to disclose:
• The building owner or facilities manager knows they have a HVAC system and that the RRO (Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) and BS5588 requires them to undertake maintenance work.
• They don’t know how many dampers they have on site. •They don’t know where their dampers are located.
• They don’t know the service specifications for their dampers, or even whether they’re motorised or fusible link.
• They don’t have a clear record of when their dampers were last tested, serviced or replaced.
• There may have been structural changes to the building over a period of years, further muddying the waters in the ‘find the damper’ game they’re forced to play.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? And again let us remind you that these mystery dampers NEED to be installed correctly and in full working order. There’s simply no room for messing around here.

Check+Protect

The solution is fairly simple. We’re inviting customers to hand over responsibility for managing their dampers to our experts.

We’ll use their drawings or – if they’re unavailable or incomplete – undertake a survey to log the location and status of all dampers on site.

We’ll schedule their maintenance and record all the information about each damper in a dedicated file we make accessible to the client.

That way they have all the information they need at their fingertips and all future maintenance will be relatively hassle-free.

In addition, to clarify the challenges and regulations associated with damper maintenance, Brakel Airvent has created a new white paper (Smoke and Fire Dampers in HVAC Systems – Maintenance and Management) which is freely available to download from our website right now www.airvent.co.uk


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