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  1. #1
    bono66's Avatar
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    Darkroom design question

    Hello all,

    I am in the beginning process of building my darkroom and I have gone over all the darkroom portraits and have really got some awesome ideas and inspiration. The only thing is my darkroom is going to be a bit different and I was wondering if someone may help me. I will be taking over most of the laundry room ( after much talk with my wife lol) and in the corner of my dark room will be the hot water tank and furnace. The area that they take up will be 6 feet x 5 feet I am placing my sink on the opposite wall and will be about 7 to 9 feet away from the furnace. My biggest concern is blowing myself up LOL does anyone know if this will cause any problems for me down the line? it's the chemicals and pilot light that I am most concerned about. The actual room will be 9 feet by 10 feet with a square of 5x6 that I can not use. I plan on having two dry counters and the sink I will add a formal plan if anyone needs it. I just have to draw it up.

    Thank you all,

    Tim

  2. #2

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    There is nothing in normal B&W chemicals that will be combustible to my knowledge. My concern is for your safety. Being a darkroom, you will be in a small and enclosed (and sealed) area. Unless you have a forced ventilation, you may actually suffer from lack of oxygen and if that should ever happen, you will not be the one to be able to tell it. Plus, incomplete combustion, if that should happen will leave you with carbon monoxide which is odorless. Pilot light is always on but full-on burn will come on from time to time and that will consume good amount of oxygen. Maybe chemists among APUG membership can give you a quantitative answer but that will be my concern.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  3. #3
    eddie's Avatar
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    Tim- My darkroom also houses my hot water tank and furnace. My sink is about 10 feet away from them, and my enlarger/dry side is about 8 feet away. The pilot light is behind the furnace, so it's not in eyesight of my work area, and the glow doesn't reach the work area (that should be a concern for you). It's been like this for 19 years. Haven't blown myself up, yet...

  4. #4
    paul_c5x4's Avatar
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    To be on the safe side, consider installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector.

  5. #5

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    +1 on the CO dectector.
    Unless you're planning on doing wet plate work no B&W chemistry or materials are particularly dangerous near things like water heaters or boilers.
    But the water heater does need adequate combustion air both for its operation and for the flue to vent properly, so you'll want to make sure your ventilation is good. You may need to put some sort of baffle in front of it so that it doesn't make unwanted illumination.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by paul_c5x4 View Post
    To be on the safe side, consider installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector.
    I completely concur. This is good advice for anyone with any combustion appliances in their home as well as those with no combustion appliances but an attached garage.

    Important point: those widely available carbon monoxide detectors you'll find in home stores, etc. are all UL listed. While UL listing is usually a good thing, in my opinion it's bad for carbon monoxide detectors. The standard those ubiquitous detectors are certified to was written more to satisfy the agencies that must respond to 911 calls rather than to provide optimum human protection. Compliant detectors don't alarm at all until substantial levels of carbon dioxide are present and, even then, only after a long delay. All this to preclude so-called "false alarms." Long-term low-level carbon monoxide poisoning is insidious and, in my opinion, much more common that one might think. The medical community probably wastes a lot of time chasing other explanations for the symptoms it causes.

    In my home, I've installed a carbon monoxide detector that sounds immediately when very low levels are present. It's more expensive and the chemical detection element has a fixed service life, therefore requiring replacement after five years, but I think my life and health are worth the cost. Here's a place that sells the brand I have:

    A note on my calendar reminds me to order a new one every five years. Exact appearance of CO Experts units have changed (and, based on the linked page, will be changing again), but that's the one I'll get next time too. Spending hours in a darkroom that also contains a gas-fired water heater and furnace is far too great a risk without this kind of protection.

  7. #7
    AgX
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    The most combustable chemical I can think of to be used in a photo-lab is Iso-propanol. And even this is not actually common.

    As indicated above ventilation is a must for every photo-lab. Occupational standards for photo-labs give minimun rates of turn-over of the room-air-volume.

  8. #8
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    Do you think that ventilation for the darkroom and for the water heater could go hand in hand?

    In other words, could the draw up the flue be used to pull out any vapors from photo chemistry? If that is true, then all you would need is to provide enough incoming fresh air to keep the water heater happy. Right?

    (Combustible vapors notwithstanding but, for traditional photo chemistry, this should not be an issue.)
    Randy S.

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  9. #9

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    I'd consider closing off the furnace & hot water heater and installing an air inlet in addition to the fan.

  10. #10
    AgX
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    A heater typically runs irregular, and even then the air volume sucked in may be quite small. I would not base a photo-lab ventilation on it.
    The standard lab ventilation would be in the magnitute of complete turn-overs per hour. Furthermore a proprietory ventilation could exhaust fumes at their place of origin.

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