When storing certain viscous and semi-viscous resins, it's often necessary to keep these materials within a particular temperature range in order to maintain their viscosity level and prevent hardening or freezing. This task usually requires the use of drum heaters.
If you're not familiar with these temperature control devices, take note of the following best practices for safe usage and material handling:
Avoid Flammable Situations
There are many materials out there that prove to be flammable if they're exposed to an external heat source such as a drum heater. In order to reduce the risk of fire or explosion, refrain from using drum heaters to warm up potentially flammable liquids.
The same goes for areas that are either used for storing flammable materials or confined spaces where potentially flammable and highly combustible dust is airborne. For instance, you don't want to use your drum heater in places where potentially flammable liquids are stored in bulk. Using drum heaters near grain silos or areas used for storing hay should also be out of the question, given how these areas often contain heavy amounts of combustible airborne dust.
Last but not least, you want to make sure that the electrical wiring supplying your drum heater with power does not pose a spark hazard. Any and all wiring should closely adhere to the NFPA 70 National Electric Code for safe operation.
Always Vent for Excess Pressure
Certain materials can build up pressure inside of the drum when warmed, which means you'll need to make sure the drum is properly vented whenever you're using a drum heater. In most cases, this can be easily accomplished by opening the bung on top of the drum lid and leaving it open while the drum heater is active. If there's no bung on the lid, then you'll need to leave the lid open for the duration of the heating cycle.
If you're dealing with materials that produce noxious gases as they're warmed up, then you'll need to make provisions for venting these fumes away from the work area whenever the drum heater is in use. Keep in mind that the drum heater still has to be used indoors, as most heaters aren't rated for outside use.
Position the Drum Heater Correctly
Positioning is also a key part of using your drum heater correctly. Placing the drum heater around the drum incorrectly could potentially cause the drum itself to overheat. This, in turn, could cause the contents within the drum to overheat and catch fire.
To prevent this from happening, you'll need to keep the drum heater positioned below the top level of the material within the drum. The drum heater should be placed around the bottom and middle third of the drum. Never place the drum heater on the top third of the drum, as this can cause the above-mentioned overheating problems to occur.
Keep an Eye on the Thermostat
Overheating issues can also be caused by a faulty or incorrectly set thermostat. It's important to make sure that the thermostat is properly set so that it does not overheat the material within the drum. Make sure the drum heater is set at the correct temperature for the material being heated prior to installing the device onto the drum.
Proper thermostat settings are also important when dealing with non-metal drums made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) resin. A drum heater set at too high a temperature could potentially melt the plastic drum. These and other materials have a maximum safe temperature for heating materials, above which damage to the drum as well as the drum heater could occur.
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11 September 2015
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