The window industry is always searching for energy efficient improvements to windows. In recent years, inert gas fills between panes of glass have increased the performance of windows by reducing air leaks. Learn more about benefits of using argon gas in windows and unexpected risks of the production process.
Argon Gas Fill for Windows
Argon (Ar) is a colorless, odorless, and non-toxic gas. Ar makes up one percent of the earth’s atmosphere naturally. Alongside the more expensive krypton gas, it’s the most commonly used gas fill for windows.
Placing gas between window panes helps fill thermal holes in the building envelope through which air leaks out. During the summer, cool air escapes through the window so your AC needs to work harder to keep you comfortable. In winter, hot air escapes through thermal holes, so it takes more energy to keep you warm. Reducing thermal holes by replacing inefficient windows or replacing aged caulk creates a tighter envelope with less potential for air to leak.
Along with gas fills, energy efficient windows feature low-e glazing, which blocks solar heat from entering your home. Windows that have an argon or krypton gas fill and low-e glazing have a much higher R-value (the measure of insulation) than old windows. Money spent replacing windows will be recouped through lower energy bills.
During the manufacturing process, argon gas is pumped between the window panes. You may spot two tiny holes on the spacer inside the window — an entry hole for argon gas and an exit hole for oxygen.
As the argon gas enters the space between glass, it pushes out oxygen. This occurs because it is heavier than oxygen. This simple fact highlights one little-discussed risk of using argon in window manufacturing: hidden dangers posed by the inert gas.
When it is released into the atmosphere, argon gas displaces oxygen. If argon gas leaks during the manufacturing process, the air in the room will become oxygen-deficient. Since the argon gas is colorless and odorless, workers will be unable to detect a leak, and thus unable to escape before suffering respiratory problems.
When employees breathe oxygen-deficient air, symptoms from dizziness and confusion to respiratory failure set on, often within minutes. Disoriented workers may be unable to flee for safety and can suffer death via asphyxiation as a result.
Fortunately, window manufacturing plants can keep their employees safe by installing an oxygen monitor wherever argon gas is stored or used.
How an Oxygen Monitor Protects Employee Safety
An oxygen monitor, also known as an oxygen deficiency monitor, tracks levels of oxygen in the room. Once installed, the monitor takes continual samples of oxygen levels and provides a readout on a display screen, so you can check oxygen levels at any time. As long as there’s enough oxygen in the room, the monitor stays silent.
If oxygen levels fall below OSHA safe thresholds and employee health could be at risk, the monitor flashes a light and sounds an alarm to let employees know. Staff have sufficient time to evacuate the room before suffering adverse health effects. These simple monitors cost little and can save lives when installed in window manufacturing facilities. To enjoy the widest range of protection, install an oxygen monitor anywhere that argon gas is used or stored. Whether a gas leak develops in the manufacturing room or in your storage facility, it can have deadly consequences.
PureAire’s line of oxygen deficiency monitors feature a hardy zirconium sensor, which is capable of evaluating oxygen levels with no calibration for 10+ years. Since the oxygen deficiency monitor from PureAire is easy to set up, easy to use, and low maintenance, many companies prefer it over an O2 monitor that requires regular maintenance.