Back to basics: Technical building equipment also needs care and insulation

Technical building equipment is a matter of course for those who just enjoy its effect in their everyday life. In the second article of the Back to basics series, we focus on building technology and the importance of its insulation.

Technical building equipment, the silent heroes of everyday life

Building technology includes the equipment used to create healthy living or working conditions in the building. Such equipment includes heating, cold water and hot water pipes, waste and rainwater drains, ventilation ducts and ventilation cooling and heating equipment with pipelines.

However, how many people stop to think how much convenience technical building equipment provides for the workplace and home?

As usual, insulation from the perspective of building technology often only comes to mind when you come across a problem: the pipes drip condensation on the floor making it dangerously slippery, the water pipe freezes or there is no cold water coming out of the tap in the summer heat. At moments like these, you will probably miss the insulation professional and wish he would rush there right away – if not on his white horse, then at least the insulation sections in both of his armpits.

Why is insulation needed in building technology?

The effect of technical insulating materials on the reliability of mechanical equipment usually can’t be seen, but their importance cannot be overemphasized. Insulation not only improves the energy efficiency of the equipment and keeps the equipment running, but also prevents condensation, ensures protection against corrosion and reduces noise emissions.

Building technology equipment are insulated especially so that they would work correctly and energy consumption would be reduced. Insulation aims to protect, for example, the operation of pipelines, and this can be seen in everyday life as a steady flow of water and water staying hot or cold. The insulation also slows down the progress of the fire if a fire for some reason does start.

One of the purposes of insulation is to insulate sound – you most likely don’t want to hear, for example, the varying sounds of your neighbor going to the toilet. But since a whole article could be written about soundproofing, we will do so and return to this topic later in the article series.

The annual heat loss of uninsulated distribution pipes and fasteners in the basement can be up to a quarter of the annual heating energy consumption. Photo: Armacell.

How do you insulate in building technology?

As you might expect, there are as many forms of insulation for technical building equipment as there are equipment. When insulating, not only the device itself, but also the requirements set by the environment are taken into account.

Different technical insulations for building technology include, for example:

  • Thermal insulation that prevents the transfer of heat from the insulation object to the environment and with which unnecessary heat losses are avoided.
  • Cold insulation that prevents the transfer of heat from the environment to the insulation object, thus reducing the energy costs caused by cold losses.
  • Condensation insulation is a cold insulation that prevents moisture from the environment from condensing on the surface of the object to be insulated. Condensed moisture can cause corrosion to the object to be insulated or other damage to the environment when the condensate drains or drips onto the floor.
  • Protective insulation, the purpose of which is to protect people from burns and accidents. The highest permitted surface temperature under normal operating conditions is 60 °C.
  • Antifreeze insulation, the purpose of which is to prevent the contents of the object to be insulated from freezing.
  • Fire protection insulation that prevents or limits damage caused by fire.

The regulations for building technology insulation come from the regulations of the Ministry of the Environment, which can be found in The National Building Code of Finland. The quality requirements, guidelines and standards for building technology insulation can be found in e.g. in:

  • PSK Handbook 9 Industrial insulation
  • LVI 50-10344, Insulation materials commonly used in building technology and their installation
  • LVI 50-10345, Dimensioning and use of building technical insulation.

Which materials are used for insulation in building technology?

When it comes to insulation, the right materials are the basis of everything – you don’t wear woolen socks in the summer heat or fishnet socks in the freezing cold.

Mineral and glass wool sections and mats are the most common materials used in building technical insulation. Both of these materials are used as aluminum paper coated and uncoated. The most common claddings are PVC cladding and plasticized or painted sheets, aluminum sheet and galvanized sheet.

The absolute advantages of mineral wool sections are their good fire resistance properties and easy and quick installation. Cellular rubber and polystyrene, on the other hand, are used in cold and condensation insulation.

Let’s keep the insulation in mind

Perhaps one day, an employee who arrives at the office in the morning will lean into his colleague’s side and show him an insulated air conditioning pipe, saying how great it is that the air conditioning pipes did not leak any condensation that summer – thanks to good insulation.

Until then, we will try to keep the insulation flag high by other means and bring the considerable benefits of insulation to people’s awareness one insulation solution at a time.

Stay tuned – let’s continue this in the next articles!

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