Ventilation Needed Even in Small Brewhouses

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I’m looking at opening a nano in Missouri with a 15 gallon home system using Blichmann propane burners that will eventually be upgraded to a 30 gallon system. Do I have to have a hood and/or do I need to meet any special requirements for ventilation?

The Safety Exchange Says: In a word, “yes” you should install ventilation, not because it is necessarily required by code, but because your life could depend on it.

The two things you should be most concerned about are the buildup of carbon monoxide resulting from imperfect combustion and an accumulation of uncombusted propane that could occur if your burner flame went out while propane kept flowing.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is called “the silent killer.” It is colorless, odorless, and has the same density as air (meaning it isn’t found only close to the floor). The first symptoms are headache and lethargy, followed by unconsciousness and then death. At the very least, install a CO monitor in your brewing space.

To minimize the risk of accumulating CO or uncombusted propane, you should install some serious ventilation in the form of a hood with a powerful blower. In a commercial setting this hood would need to be explosion-proof so that free propane could not be ignited by the fan or blower components.

Your brewing burners are not really comparable to a gas stove’s burners, neither in design nor in the amount of petroleum gas they use. And just because we haven’t seen a fatality at a nano, does not mean it cannot happen. Please exercise care in designing your brewery.

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