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Chicago’s Choice Since 1961


24/7 Emergency Service


Althoff Industries, Inc. Blog

We Accept Challenges—Like Heating a High-Rise


We have offered commercial heating repair in Chicago, IL and other commercial heating services since 1961. We have taken on numerous challenges during our time in business and found innovative ways to provide effective and energy efficient solutions to a wide range of commercial facilities. 

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to providing commercial heating (and cooling) is for high-rise buildings—and Chicago has quite a few of those! Not every commercial HVAC contractor serving the Chicagoland area can handle the obstacles of high-rise HVAC, but we can.

High-rises pose a specific series of challenges for heating and cooling. In this post, we’re going to talk about the obstacles we overcome when we install a heating system for a high-rise. (The definition of a high-rise is any building which has an occupied floor more than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.)

The challenge of height

The height of a high-rise affects the way the building is heated and cooled, and not necessarily in all the ways you might expect. There is always the challenge of being able to push enough air up and down the building. But high-rises have their own “climate levels”: the temperature outside the building changes at higher elevations, something that isn’t an issue with a basic two- or three-story building. At the highest stories, the temperature drops lower, and this requires those stories to have more powerful heating. A high-rise requires a special kind of zoning to allow for proper heating throughout it that manages the upper floors without allowing them to overheat as heat from the lower levels rises.

The challenge of blower power

We mentioned this in the last paragraph, but it merits its own challenge. The amount of energy necessary to power the blowers that move air throughout a high-rise building is substantial. It isn’t a case of just multiplying the heating needs of one story by the number of stories—a high rise requires additional blowers placed throughout the building in order to effectively circulate air up and down so many stories. 

The challenge of heater types

So far we’ve discussed used air-cooled heat pumps to provide heat to a high-rise. This isn’t the only option, however, and choosing the type of heating systems used for a building is a crucial part of the process. One of the most common types of heating for high rises is a water-source heat pump, which uses a water loop and heat exchanger to provide heat. This is one of the most energy-efficient systems. A third option is to use a centralized boiler system with powerful pumps to move the water to the upper stories.

The challenge of space

Space is at a premium in a major metropolis like Chicago, and high-rises are designed to take up as small a footprint as possible. Some of the space has to go to the HVAC system, whatever type it is, but it has to be designed to consume as small an area as possible to preserve valuable real estate. We have to balance an effective HVAC system and its requirements for ducts and piping with the needs for work/living space.

No matter what your commercial heating needs are, the Althoff team is ready to say “Challenges accepted!”

Althoff Industries, Inc. has served Chicagoland since 1961. Contact us today to schedule service.

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