Ensuring your workshop or facility has proper fume ventilation can be a daunting process. This guide to fume extraction systems will help you understand more about regulatory requirements, benefits of fume extraction, types of fume ventilation systems, and some important considerations when selecting a fume extraction system.
If you have any questions about fume ventilation and extraction or how we can help you, contact us today.
One of the most important things to keep in mind are local, regional, or national regulations. Regulatory bodies will often provide guidance, exposure limits, and training. Failing to meet your local regulations can be costly for businesses as you may face fines or lawsuits in the long term. Additionally, short term costs may arise from lost productivity as workers face illnesses such as metal fume fever.
Below, you’ll find a list of some resources to help you learn more.
There are numerous benefits to invest in a fume extraction system.
Proper fume extraction can help reduce employee sickness such as metal fume fever. Demonstrating a commitment to the employee health and well-being will also help attract and retain a highly skilled workforce.
Fume Extraction System Considerations
Now you know some of the regulations and benefits of proper fume ventilation and want to purchase a fume extraction system. Where do you start? How do you start?
An excellent starting point is understanding your facility and needs.
- How big is the workshop or facility?
- Is welding light duty or heavy duty?
- How many welders are there?
- Is there a robotic welder?
- Does metalwork occur in specific, pre-defined locations?
- How much floor and wall space is there?
Types of Fume Extraction Ventilation Systems
Mechanical Dilution Ventilation
This system uses wall fans, roof exhaust fans and other mechanical methods to reduce facility levels of airborne contaminants.
Local Exhaust Ventilation
Local exhaust systems remove toxic pollutants before they can mix with a worker’s breathing zone.
Examples of Local Exhaust Ventilation include:
Downdraft tables are simple and effective source-capture fume extraction systems. Fumes are drawn down and back through a grid into exhaust ducting, preventing them from rising and mixing into the worker’s breathing zone. Downdraft tables are suitable for smaller work pieces.
Portable High Vacuum (PHV)
Portable high vacuum (PHV) systems are optimal for small weld and fabrication shops, maintenance facilities, and schools. Portable fume extractors are ideal solutions for confined spaces such as ship hulls and tanks, difficult to reach locations or for occasional welding and fabrication projects. Portable welding fume extraction units are recommend for areas that are not accessible to stationary or larger mobile units. These units have a high degree of flexibility as they can be wall mounted or used as a mobile unit on wheels.
Mobile fume extractors
Mobile systems are designed to be wheeled around facilities as needed to sources of pollution without a fixed location. Mobile fume extraction units can come in light, medium, or heavy duty variants. Medium and heavy duty mobile systems are available with disposable filters or self-cleaning filters.
Stationary fume extractors
How to Choose a Fume Extraction System
You know that it’s important to capture toxic particulate from weld fumes before you can breathe it in. But what if you or your welders are moving around and a stationary unit doesn’t have the reach or coverage for your work?
Portable and mobile fume extractors are an excellent solution when factory space is limited, budgets are limited or welding tasks don’t require large fume extraction units.
Larger facilities with heavy welding operations might require a more in-depth solution. Extraction hoods could be used for areas where regular welding occurs. If a duct system is not available, other systems might be used such as a diluter system.
Below, you’ll find some additional considerations when choosing a fume extraction system.
- The filter is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a fume extraction system.
- Specifically choose a fume extraction system and filter that is specific to your need. Many filters are not designed to collect the carcinogenic submicron particles found in welding fumes.
- The size of hexavalent chromium particles from welding are typically between 0.05 to 2.0 microns.
- A combination of filters may be used to improve air quality. The MobilePro is a a welding fume extraction system available with HEPA after filters.
- HEPA filters are the gold standard when it comes to air filtration and can capture up to 99.995% of particles.
All fume extraction systems are rated based on the amount of cubic feet of air they circulate each minute (CFM). There are multiple factors which may affect an extractor’s CFM, even when brand new. For optimal results, consult a fume extraction system manufacturer to determine the best extraction system for your needs.
Disposable or Self-Cleaning Fume Extractors
Fume extraction systems are either disposable or self-cleaning units. Disposable units use filters that are discarded as they reach capacity. A self-cleaning filter may be used multiple times, since particles may be cleaned from the filter’s surface.
Each of these units have their own benefits. Mobile and stationary extractors can come in both disposable and self-cleaning models.
- Disposable models have lower initial costs but will require regularly replacing filters.
- Self-cleaning models have higher initial costs but will provide cost savings as their filters are reusable.
In some shops, flexibility is required and welders would benefit from a variety of units that are capable of adapting to the rapidly changing nature of their work.
Fixed systems might not be useful in smaller shops where welding operations move around on a regular basis. Similarly, a heavy duty system might not be useful for a shop where there are only occasional welding activities.
An often overlooked aspect in selecting a fume extraction system are ancillary quality of life improvements. For example, ensuring the user interface is easily understandable will help to keep operations flowing smoothly. The accessibility of components, duration required for filter replacement and cleaning are all important considerations as well.
Contact us for a consultation to find out how we can help with your fume extraction ventilation needs, keeping you and your workers healthy, your equipment running more efficiently, reduce downtime and boost profits.