Frost Fight: Challenging Winter Utility Installations Have A Calgary Contractor Seeing Infra-Red

January 2012, Vol. 67 No. 1

Quick thaw
It took approximately 24 hours for the Toasters to thaw one meter (deep enough to install the gas lines). Therefore, every morning when the crew got to the jobsite, they could move the Toasters, and the ground would be ready for trenching. “With coal and straw we would only thaw about one foot every 24 hours,” said Dunwald. “The infrared heat worked up to three times faster.”

Not only did the infrared heat system increase Dunwald’s productivity, but it also helped his crew work safely next to the existing utility lines. “We had the inside path, so we were constantly crossing our lines with other utilities,” he said. But, thankfully, the ground was thawed well enough that Dunwald didn’t have to be too forceful when trenching with his Yanmar mini excavator. “We could have used a shovel to dig,” he said.

The gas line installation spanned 10 days, and all buildings were ready to be occupied by the January deadline. Without the infrared heaters, Dunwald isn’t sure what might have happened. Consequently, both ATCO and the developer were fully enthused by Dunwald’s work. “The developer wanted to buy our Toasters on the spot,” Dunwald said.

His only regret was not having enough units to get the job done even faster. “We could have worked a lot quicker if we had more than 10 Toasters,” he said. “Then again, the same job might have taken us 30 days if we didn’t have any.”

Since working on the Skyview Ranch project, Dunwald has better prepared himself for future underground installations. He eventually purchased 20 more Toasters, giving him a total of 30. He’s used them on a variety of other jobs – both commercial and residential. “The Toasters have given us the upper hand in Calgary, and more work has started to flow our way,” Dunwald said.

With happy clients and an increasing workload, Dunwald is thankful for the infrared technology that allows him to trench during winter months. And the coal-burning ban that once hampered his business has finally provided a silver lining. Now that he offers services that no other contractor in Calgary can match, when it comes to underground utility installations, Dunwald definitely has the hot hand.

Dunwald & Fleming Enterprises Ltd, (403) 277-1331,
Serious Thermal Products, (403) 671-7393,

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