Supply air runs out the bottom of this Dry-O-Tron unit and into the hockey players' locker room,which is located in the basement.
ELMIRA, N.Y. - Ice hockey locker rooms typically smell moldy and feel chillingly damp from a mixture of cold rink air and lingering humidity generated by showers, sweaty athletes, and poor ventilation that lacks an infusion of outdoor air.

The 20-year-old locker room of the ice rink at the Murray Athletic Center of four-year-old Elmira College, Elmira, N.Y., was no different until hvac engineers and contractors came up with the idea of using make-up air dehumidifiers to correct the poor indoor air quality.

To accommodate the existing sub-level locker room, Charles Wilson, PE, Charles R. Wilson Engineering, Ithaca, N.Y., specified a rooftop RK-100 Dry-O-Tron dehumidifier mounted at ground level, but with enough space to run supply duct from the bottom of the unit and through a locker room window. Because it's a retrofit, the men's locker room dehumidifier also has an on-board boiler for back-up space heating when hot gas reheat can't fulfill winter heating requirements.

During day operation, 3,425 cfm of air is exhausted with a Cook Fan Co. fan and nighttime operation exhausts only 1,425 cfm, returning the rest to the make-up air dehumidifier to save energy.

Wilson chose two make-up dehumidifiers manufactured by Dectron Internationale, Rosewell, Ga., as the heart of the hvac retrofit. Southern Tier Custom Fabricators, Elmira, and Buchanan Heating & Plumbing, respectively, were the sheet metal/mechanical and piping contractors on the project.

Too often locker rooms are ignored in ventilation designs. "Some older locker rooms have exhaust fans, which draw cold damp air from the ice rink, but most don't bring in outside air because it adds humidity in the summer and is too expensive to heat in the winter," said Steve Brandt, PE, D.F. Brandt Inc., Kirkville, N.Y. This was the manufacturer's rep. that assisted Wilson on the locker room ventilation design.

To properly size the equipment, Wilson calculated the moisture loads produced by outside air humidity, the showers, and the load introduced to the locker room by the players. The 30-year-old building also had an existing boiler that vented from the locker room, also adding moisture.

Now the new outdoor unit introduces dried outside air to the locker room and combines it with partial exhausting and recirculation when humidity levels rise.

Retrofitting the existing 6,000-sq.-ft. men's locker room and building a new 1,000-sq.-ft. women's locker room for Elmira's new NCAA Division III women's hockey team was part of an overall $1.4 million athletic facility remodel that included a sports medicine area, storage space and offices.