Which Weatherseal is Right For You?
When a leveler is installed, there are inherent gaps between the leveler and concrete pit wall that leave openings for warm or cool air to escape. Sometimes these gaps are big enough for rodents and other outside environmental elements to enter the facility.
The impact of not addressing gaps beneath and around the loading dock leveler can be costly. In fact, outside air infiltration can cost over $400 in energy loss annually per dock position. If the gaps are large enough for pests or rodents to escape, especially in highly regulated food or beverage facilities, it can set a company back $10M per incident and potentially tarnish a facility’s reputation in the long-term. The simple and cost-effective addition of a complementary weatherseal to a loading dock leveler helps to fill these gaps while also helping to reduce financial impact.
With several loading dock leveler weatherseals available on the market, it’s important to understand which weatherseal is right for your application. Aspects such as the elements you are trying to combat against, installation time and which industry you are in are important considerations for facilities to make.
Types of Weatherseals
Rite-Hite offers a variety of leveler weatherseals which accommodate unique facility needs. All are designed with a variety of environmental concerns, operations procedures, and gap sizes in mind.
The NB-1 Brush weatherseal is designed with nylon brush material that easily slides in and out of a galvanized channel that is welded to the side of the leveler. There are two sizes available for the Nylon Brush weatherseals that fit different size gaps between the leveler and pit wall. NB-1 is designed for a 1” gap and NB-2 is designed for situations where the leveler pit might have been poured incorrectly and there is a larger gap than normal, or for Rite-Hite Jumbo Levelers that automatically are built with 2” gaps on each side.
The PT-2 Vinyl weatherseal is a plytex plastic weatherseal that also slides in and out of a galvanized channel welded to the side of the leveler. This type of weatherseal should not be used to combat against rodents in cold storage applications as rodents can get through the cracks and crevices as well as possibly eat through the plastic material.
The teardrop weatherseal has a foam inner core wrapped in 40 oz. vinyl fabric and is tek-screwed into the side of the leveler, not welded or glued on. The weatherseal hangs down below the top of the leveler for an effective seal in below dock operations.
The fabric weatherseal is a flexible foam covered with durable Hypalon fabric and has a double stitched fold for added durability. It slides in and out of a galvanized plate that is welded or uses tek-screws to attach to the side of the leveler’s integral toe guard. Also called a “wedge seal”, the fabric weatherseal is designed for applications where a standard weatherseal will not fit between the side of the dock leveler and pit wall. There are two options to fill the void if the pit is too wide (1 ½ projection) or too narrow (3/4” projection).
Rear Hinge Foam
The Rear Hinge Foam weatherseal consists of a fire-retardant polyurethane foam with a 1/8” galvanized pipe and optional Hypalon wrapped charseal that seals the gaps at the back of leveler plates. There are kits available for the sides of smooth transition levelers, as well as legacy levelers that do not need side and rear seals.
The lanyard cup weatherseal is made of durable polyurethane material and is used to stop air infiltration from the underside of levelers. On levelers with pull chain operation, there is a small hole in the leveler for the chain to lay in. The lanyard cup sits down in the opening of this hole so there is no air infiltration when the chain is in the normal stored position. Lanyard cups tend to last a long time, and typically only need to be bought once as long as it is taken care of and stored back into position after use.
Loading Dock Leveler Weatherseals by Industry
Industry needs, such as sanitation regulations, environmental and temperature control as well as paper and chemical requirements should be considered when choosing a weatherseal to complement a loading dock leveler.
Strict Sanitation Regulations
Food and beverage facilities are highly regulated facilities that require written plans to ensure food and beverage that enter and exit their facility remains sanitary. Food contamination during the supply chain journey can have significant consequences for consumers, therefore, it’s extremely important to protect valuable products and cargo from harmful contaminants entering your facility.
The NB-1 brush weatherseal is the ideal solution for these industries because the sweeping action of the brush allows for quick cleaning and easy maintenance and helps to keep bugs, rodents and other pests out of the facility. Moreso, it’s been found that bugs and rodents don’t like going through brush seals because of the “dragging effect” it has against their whiskers and bodies.
Environment and Temperature Controlled
Many non-food grade facilities, such as pharmaceutical, require environmental separation and control to help address air infiltration and cross-contamination. Since many of these facilities have cooler inside temperatures that require warm, moist air to be kept out of the building, a PT-2 weatherseal is a proven, robust solution. In cold dock situations trying to combat cold air entering the facility, NB-1 is the proper weatherseal to apply to these types of environments.
Paper and Chemical Facilities
Certain facilities, such as pulp and paper or chemical, need to take extra precautionary measures to safeguard against fires. The teardrop weatherseal uses tek-screws to attach to the side of the levelers integral toe guard and doesn’t require welding, which can create sparks, making it the practical solution for flammable environments.
Below, Above and at Dock Operations
The average loading dock height can range from 48” to 52”, but trailer heights can range anywhere from 30” to 60” in height. Due to this potential large variation in trailer heights, a facility will need to take steps to ensure that this gap around the leveler is addressed.
To seal the gaps for trailers that come in below the dock height, the Teardrop and Fabric weatherseals are ideal products as they hang below the top of the leveler. If the nylon brush and PT-2 weatherseals are welded to the side of the leveler, they can also help seal gaps during below dock operations.
To seal the gaps for trailers that come in higher than the dock height, PT-2 weatherseals can be used if welded to the side of the curb angle for a more positive seal against the sides of the leveler.
Consider Installation Time
With supply chain challenges and economic volatility, efficiency is essential. If time is spent re-installing or replacing poorly applied equipment, facilities are hurting their bottom line with inefficient downtime at the dock paired with unnecessary maintenance and repair costs.
Some manufacturers use rubber weatherseals that are bolted to the side of the leveler, so when a replacement is needed, the entire piece must be unbolted and reinstalled. This is not only a time consuming process, but in the case where the screws are not re-bolted properly, the effectiveness of the weatherseal is sacrificed.
Rite-Hite levelers ship with heavy-duty galvanized channels installed to the sides of the leveler or pit wall to help with the ease of placement for most of the leveler weatherseals. Depending on the type of weatherseal that is needed, these channels can be deducted for weatherseals that require self-tapping fastening screws (tek-screws) that screw the weatherseal onto the side of the leveler’s integral toe guard instead of sliding in and out of a galvanized channel.
An Effective Seal for a More Efficient Operation
Rite-Hite offers a variety of loading dock weatherseals to help with all types of applications and facility needs to help combat against air infiltration, keep pests out, and accommodate for various operating heights and special welding conditions. Learn more about the different types of leveler weatherseals Rite-Hite has!