Dye vat hoods and other ventilation systems

As a follow-up to yesterday's dye vat sourcing post, today I'm addressing the other important component of a dye facility upgrade: ventilation systems! This is one of those questions like "Where do I buy a dye vat?" that comes up again and again, and one that's close to my shop-safety-advocating heart.

The two main types of vendors to check out are restaurant/kitchen suppliers and lab suppliers. 

For restaurant/kitchen places, search for "range vent hoods," which come in several styles and are designed to suck away steam, fumes, smoke, grease, heat, etc. Here are some vendors of this type.

The good thing about the range hoods is that you can look them up on "Consumer Reports"-style sites and read feedback on various brands before you purchase them, find out what's the best bet for your buck and what's got reliability issues. Some of them even have cool features like temperature-sensitive intakes that suck away faster at higher temps, flame sensitive sprinkler attachments and such.

There are ductless range hoods which push your fumes through a charcoal filter and then recycle the air into your dyespace--probably better than nothing but won't filter contaminants not trapped by charcoal.

For lab suppliers, you're looking for "laboratory canopy hoods." They're like range hoods, but designed for industrial lab usage so they often have extra features like corrosive-resistant coatings. 

When you are pricing out options, talk with your facilities manager and find out what sort of budget/process you need to allot for installation. A wall- or ceiling-mounted hood requires ductwork that vents to the outside, away from any A/C intakes or windows and doors

When i've helped coordinate projects like this, the budget/cost got divvied up between departments--the installation costs got parceled out to facilities/safety, while the cost of the hood itself went to the area in which it was being installed, so I can't be of much help on a total cost guesstimate but vendors can give you quotes for equipment/installation. If your facilities folks are hands-off about it (or don't exist for your circumstance), call up some kitchen remodeling businesses in your area and ask what they estimate to install a range hood and ask whether that includes additional ductwork supplies (the actual duct, vent screen or louvered cover, etc) and if not, add those in as well.

A third option if you don't have the budget, space, or construction ability to install the ductwork for a wall- or ceiling-mounted hood is a portable fume extractor like this:

You could push this kind of extractor around and use it in other applications in addition to functioning as makeshift dye hoods--sucking away jewelry soldering fumes, solvent-based paint fumes (like during FEV application), hat sizing fumes, etc. They won't help with heat control the way a duct hood that vents to the outside can, but otherwise, they're a great option as long as you stay on top of filter replacement!

Understand that once you install a ventilation system, it needs to be maintained and regularly inspected to insure it continues to work properly. This can be as simple as changing a filter regularly or allowing your EHS inspector to come test its intake/output rate each year.

Regardless, a dye vat with an efficient ventilation system is a complete game-changer for your shop's ability to control color in costume production. Good luck!

Detail shot of corset reproduction project by Jane Reichard


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