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Air Barriers:  An Open Door to Air Comfort

If you’ve ever stepped into a large store, you’ve probably experienced a blast of air coming down on you as you cross the threshold. Sometimes the air is hot, sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes the power ranges from “gentle Spring breeze” to “single person tornado.” That sudden gust of wind is from an air barrier. Air barriers are also known as air doors or air curtains, and they serve a pretty important purpose.


Air Barrier Awkward Moments

It never ceases to catch you off guard, as you look around awkwardly just as the store’s security cameras catch sight of your reaction. It may feel like a prank, but that blast of air serves a purpose. You may have had these theories about the air wandering through your head:

  • The store’s HVAC is broken and they are losing loads of air right out of their front door.
  • Massive conspiracy to mess up your hair and make you want to buy hair products.
  • Deterrent for those people who shop with huge stacks of coupons.
  • The blast of air keeps birds from accidentally getting into the store.
  • Cool people off as they enter so stores don’t have to use as much AC.

However, none of those theories hold up to the real reason buildings use air barriers. Let’s uncover what an air barrier is, what kind of buildings use them, and how they serve to help the overall HVAC system of a building by being the first bit of indoor air people come into contact with.


Hold the Door

Air barriers are usually seen paired with doors that lead to and from exterior spaces. If you look up as you enter a store, you’re first going to be hit with a blast of air that will make you squint. Then you’ll see a metal or plastic rectangle installed over the door with vents or perforated holes all along the bottom of the device. Depending on what kind of space you are entering, air barriers can also be installed vertically along the sides of an entryway. However, people prefer to use the above-door location because it keeps air barriers out of the way of shopping carts and other things that can damage them. 

Depending on how much foot traffic an entrance gets, the air barrier may run continually or turn on and off as a door is opened. Air barriers are as big or as small as they need to be. Businesses install massive air barrier devices above warehouse and factory doors where people load trucks or large pieces of machinery on a regular basis. 


Invisible Walls

The purpose of an air barrier is in its name: to provide a strong, constant stream of air that serves as a way to block interior and exterior air. Air barriers are located above constantly opening doors, as well as doors that remain open for extended periods of time. Entryways that lack any other physical barrier also have air barriers. People and materials can pass freely through the continual air blown down by the air barrier which makes for more efficient movement in places like large warehouses and factories.


Love is an Open Door

So what good is a blast of air across an entryway? According to Mars Air Systems, air barriers can help provide the following: 

  • Keeps Pests Out:  Annoying insects like flies, mosquitoes, and wasps are a nuisance and a possible health threat when they enter a building. The steady stream of air provided by an air barrier deters insects from entering. That strong wind is like having an invisible screen door!
  • Keeps Conditioned Air In:  Air conditioning is a part of any building, whether to provide comfort for workers and customers or to keep products cool in big refrigerated warehouses. Air barriers installed at exterior entrances and even throughout a building where temperature zones can range between “room temperature” and “freezing” as a part of normal operations help keep air where it needs to be rather than pouring out through open entryways.
  • Makes HVAC Systems More Efficient and Effective:  It’s no surprise that when you stop massive amounts of conditioned air from leaving a building, an HVAC system can work more efficiently and lead to lower energy costs. Open doors can allow massive amounts of air to flow out of a building, but an air barrier keeps the conditioned air in while allowing people and cargo to pass unimpeded. 
  • Dries Wet Floors:  Condensation on floors where two rooms with temperature differences meet can be a slip hazard. Air barriers can help keep a floor dry with their constant air flow. This reduces fall risks for the people that travel through the area.
  • Blocks Unwanted Odors and Dust: Nothing could ruin the mood of a bakery or café faster than the smell of car exhaust from a busy city street. Air barriers can aid in keeping bad smelling air out of sensitive spaces. A properly installed air barrier keeps the smell of smoke and gas fumes, as well as the dust and debris from sidewalks, at bay.


Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Air barriers are an amazing solution for buildings that want to throw open the doors to commerce, production, and people while keeping pests out and conditioned air in. You can install air barriers over or beside any size door, ranging from the front door of a local florist to the massive bay doors of a manufacturing warehouse.

When properly installed, air barriers make extremely effective borders between different temperature climates. Use them on doors that lead outside, or on interior doors that lead to freezers or refrigerated spaces. This type of air zone protection makes for more efficient and effective HVAC operations. It also ensures better air comfort for both customers and workers. 

SEE ALSO: Maintaining Commercial HVAC Systems Can Improve Profitability


Improve Your Space

If you think you can improve your space by installing an air barrier, contact your local, licensed HVAC service provider.  They may have the perfect solution for you!

Air barriers are an excellent complement to existing HVAC systems and can work with buildings big, small, and in between. 

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