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Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

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Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Postby CopperDog » Fri May 17, 2019 5:28 pm

Given that recording studios - home and / or otherwise - contain a fair amount of electronic gear, what is the potential for damage caused by freezing and is there a safe way to thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Living in Canada guarantees long periods of below freezing temps, and I had the misfortune to experience a power outage that knocked out the heating in a stand alone studio building. This occurred while I was away and as a result the gear was frozen for approximately 4 months.

Heat was restored and I waited 2 weeks before powering everything up once again in an orderly fashion, and thankfully everything seems to be functioning as it should.

In colder climates subject to periods of extended freezing, we expect that our hi tech automobiles loaded with on board computers and electronic components should not be affected, but can that be also true of a lot of the sophisticated studio gear that we purchase ?

So if this situation should happen again, is there any procedure to safely thaw out frozen studio equipment without waiting 2 weeks ? Any technical studies done in this regard ?

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Re: Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Postby Folderol » Fri May 17, 2019 5:33 pm

I'm by no means a expert on these things, but my understanding is the greatest danger on thawing out is condensation. Another one is mechanical stress (at the micro level) if things heat up too quickly.
So it would seem you actually did the right thing by letting everything warm up slowly.
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Re: Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri May 17, 2019 5:57 pm

The manufacturers' specifications for their equipment should -- and usually does -- state the maximum and minimum temperatures at which the equipment can be stored, and at which it can be operated. In general, equipment can be stored in a much wider range of temperatures than it can be powered up and used.

So I'd check those specs to make sure that you're not exceeding the minimums for storage. I doubt you would be within a building, even if there's no heating in the depths of a Canadian winter, but check anyway. If in doubt, check with the manufacturers.

And then, as has been said, for powering up the biggest risk is condensation. So let the room temperature stabilise for long enough to ensure there is no condensation before powering the gear. I'd have thought a couple of days would be more than sufficient... but I'm sure you'd be able to figure that out on site easily enough.

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Re: Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri May 17, 2019 5:58 pm

Interesting! I'm no expert either but looking around a bit it seems that the non-operating temperature of most electronic components is surprisingly forgiving; often in the −65°C to +125°C ballpark.

That said there could be a small number of components less hardy of course, but if everything turns on OK then I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it. As Folderol (Edit: and Hugh now, I see!) said, the mechanical stress or condensation damage is probably more concerning (but would likely be more evident) and letting it warm up slowly seems very sensible to me.
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Re: Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Postby MOF » Fri May 17, 2019 7:02 pm

The colder everything is, the better, to stop resistive noise. So I see recording in sub zero temperatures becoming a new fashion, use a windshield to stop the condensation on the mic’ though. :D
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Re: Safely thaw out frozen studio equipment ?

Postby CopperDog » Sat May 18, 2019 3:18 pm

Thank you all for responding to my query regarding how to safely thaw out frozen studio equipment.

Appreciate your considered and informative reply.

Canada.....6 months of winter and 6 months of poor sledding.....

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