written by John Lyons on June 7, 2018

Air Handler Replacement Project

An industrial construction company with a food processing client in Laurel, MD, contacted the team at Fingles Metalworks Inc. when new food processing equipment standards rendered part of the existing equipment unacceptable. The air handler was located on the roof of the production facility and was an integral part of the food processing operation.

Replacing the equipment meant the client would need to shut down a major part of their operation for the duration of the replacement process. To accommodate the request, the team at Fingles provided guidance for a three-stage air handler replacement schedule that would be as efficient as possible.

Air Handler Replacement Process

Replacing two air handlers weighing in at 17,500 lbs. from the roof of a busy food processing plant requires careful and intentional planning. The three-phase process needed to be completed in about six weeks so the customer could get back to business as soon as possible.


During the first phase of the project, the team utilized and modified the existing structural steel support for the two air handlers. This involved working around the existing equipment with a 350-ton crane to maneuver the new structural steel from the ground to its final location on the roof.


The second phase of the project involved the team using the 600-ton crane to set the newly-designed and manufactured air handler replacement units. The new air handlers were made using specifications and designs provided by the client. While phases one and two were mostly uncomplicated and fairly straight forward, the third phase would prove much more challenging.

The second phase of the project involved the team using the 600-ton crane to set the newly-designed and manufactured air handler replacement units.

Air Handler Replacement Challenges and Solutions

During the third phase of the air handler replacement project, the Fingles team encountered a unique challenge. While the new ductwork for the air handlers was correctly ordered according to the timeline and specifications for the project, the ductwork arrived weeks after their planned arrival and several pieces were fabricated incorrectly. The major design issues were quickly resolved by the Fingles team with civil engineering and field modifications.


The new sock duct, a higher-quality duct that is easier to clean and maintain, requires a support system, which the customer didn’t need with the old ductwork. The hanging system was designed by the Fingles team with the necessary support so it didn’t interfere with the existing assembly line equipment.


While the food manufacturing air handler replacement project posed various challenges, the team at Fingles Metalworks Inc. was able to solve the issues quickly and efficiently.

Food Industry Manufacturing and Installation

Fingles Metalworks Inc. is a Baltimore-area metal fabricator and contractor providing quality food-grade processing parts and unique solutions to your complex challenges. To learn more about our experience in the food industry, or to get a quote, contact us today.