When ice becomes a disarmer……on your freezer wall……who you gonna call?
We don’t mean to make light of what could be a very serious problem, but yes, that’s a take-off from the classic movie franchise Ghostbusters. We think it’s very relevant to the problems we in the food service industry face for our large freezer and low-temp facilities. A small problem quickly turns into a larger one, and if the right solution is not applied as soon as possible, the issue will only continue to worsen, until what seemed like a minor inconvenience, threatens to contaminate your stored food.
So, what can you do about it?
As you remember in the original Ghostbusters, paranormal activity in the New York City area was on the rise. People were starting to see things that couldn’t be denied. At first, it was played off, as if just a few crazies were imagining it. But soon, it became apparent that the city was facing a paranormal crisis of Biblical proportions.
Then comes Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler, – scientists turned paranormal investigators. Together, they work to tackle the city’s problem one ghost at a time.
Now, what happens next is so like what we see in our industry, it would be funny if it weren’t so serious. What starts out as an isolated ghost here and there, turns into a full-fledged infestation of specters and beasties that has people ready to leave the city. In fact, city hall gets involved, and threatens to shut down the one team that might be able to save them all.
Why is this familiar? Well, it’s not unusual for us to come into a facility to investigate a small area of visible ice, and before our investigation is over, we’re talking about:
“Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling!” “Forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes!” “The dead rising from the grave!”
Fortunately, we typically manage to stop short of so vile a circumstance, but just barely.
In fact, if you’ve been in the low-temp industry as long as we have, you know the terror of finding ice in your freezers or condensation in your coolers. To an outsider, this seems like a natural occurrence when operating a giant freezer, but for you, finding your warehouse help in the middle of an ice-rink snowball fight is the stuff nightmares are made of.
So, why compare us to the ghostbusters? After all, initially, they are a comedy bit. But it doesn’t take them long to get up to speed, apply their ghost hunting technology of the first order, and remove the scourge that is inhabiting their customer’s building. In short, they become the consummate professionals (kind of!).
The “icing” the Ghostbusters are dealing with is more unpredictable than the condensation driven scourge we face in our facilities. New York City is a bit more complex than a low-temp warehouse, and our customer’s employees are all working toward the same end: safe, effective freezing and cooling to keep the goods moving through the supply chain.
Here’s the thing though, we go into situations where a company is under a lot of stress. We get it, the threat of having to move your client’s goods out of your coolers and freezers is hard on your business. But, that’s what happens if a USDA/FDA inspector gets to you before we do. Things, for you, just get worse. We can step in with mitigation before things get that far, and that’s why it matters that you understand exactly what it is you’re fighting against.
Now, I won’t say that the USDA or FDA is an incompetent as the city was portrayed in Ghostbusters, but the results for your business can be similar. Suddenly, instead of facing easy going ghosts, you’re facing the Gate Keeper, demanding you name your own destroyer!
I think by the time we’re done with our conversation here, the similarities between what you may have experienced, and the paranormal infestation of New York will be clear. But, if not, at least you’ll know more about what you’re dealing with and a bit about what we can do to help you.
Here at Vapor Armour, one of the first things we tell new team members is that we are in the business of “stopping air.” Simply put, Vapor Drive, is a consequence of convection. Convection is the process that causes warm air, to seek cooler areas. In your cooler, or freezer, this happens when your structure’s envelope is denigrated and allows warm, moist air, to drive into the cooler air of a climate-controlled space.
In most of the facilities we work in, there are three basic temperature zones. Some work areas will be ambient temperature, equating to the outdoor temperature in your region at that time of year; some will be cooler spaces, which are usually kept at 35 degrees; and the freezer spaces are typically kept from 0 to -20.
The differences between the air temperatures in these zones, that frequently share walls, is what drives the Vapor. In most cases, the driven warm moist air, makes its way through the exterior walls and roof structure connection, then penetrates interior zones over the tops of those interior walls, as well.
Now, we know you had your facility constructed to the highest standard, in fact, in most cases we find that structural movement, rather than design, or construction failure, is responsible for most of the Vapor Drive we see. This can occur by movement in the surrounding soil, wind, tectonic activity, or the simple expansion and contraction of the building wall and roof structure materials themselves.
That’s why architects and contractors are careful to include expansion joints in the facility to prevent structural failure. How much movement are we talking about? More than you might imagine. The changes in temperature over a given 24-hour period, can cause wall materials, even properly selected and installed, to move from 1/16, to 3/16 in, over a 40-foot section. That means that a wall 400 feet long, not unusual in facilities we service, is moving from ⅝ to 1 ⅞ in a single day. So, you can see the problem.
If your vapor barrier solution isn’t flexible enough to account for this movement, over time, it simply breaks down. Often, they do not prevent Vapor Barrier discontinuity, meaning that for at least some portion of the day, there’s a gap where warm moist air “drives” into your controlled environment, much like the spooks in Ghostbusters invading the island of Manhattan.
This Vapor Drive strains your critical cooling infrastructure, drives your costs up, and in severe cases, can even make your structure uninsurable, or worse yet, structurally unsafe to operate. We know this sounds like an exaggeration, and long before it gets to that point, most facilities would face USDA/FDA/OSHA enforcement, expensive fines, lost time, and possible loss of business, or even their licensure.
Now, in the movie Ghostbusters, Venkman and company were the only available options, and they were metaphorically effective, In the past few years, our clients have been gathering data on our own installation, and in each case, they have found a significant savings. Specifically, we have authored case studies in facilities in Massachusetts, Florida, and Michigan, as you can see, a wide variety of environments, from coastal to far north, and far south. (cite for case studies on VA website) From these case studies, we were able to determine the ROI of Vapor Armour installations, and we think you’ll agree, the results are impressive. Among the three cases, all were able to recoup their initial investment between 22 to 37 months, a full twelve years before our Vapor Armour Warranty expires.
So, if there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?
We hope you’ll make the call to Vapor Armour. Our professional team would love nothing more than to completely eradicate your Vapor Drive issues, leaving no residual behind. Because much like the pink river of slime that infects the entire city of New York in Ghostbusters, unchecked, you’ll find yourself in a world of hurt that will cost you a lot more than the cost of our installation.