A Spirit Level is a level filled with alcohol or any other liquid. Inside is an air bubble which allows the users to see if the surface is fully level. When the bubble lines up with the center of the level, it is indicative that the surface is level.
Spirit levels are a vital tool when working in many industries, including the scaffolding business. The level ensures that the surface being used or installed is flat. If a scaffolding is not level, there is a risk of the whole scaffolding system tipping over, or a risk of the users slipping and falling.
There is also a risk that any tools or materials used during the project could roll off the scaffolding and fall to the ground below. This could result in injury to personnel working below, or damage to the property.
Considerations for Scaffolding Spirit Levels
When choosing a spirit level, there are a couple things that need to be considered, including the length of the level. It is preferable to use a longer level because a longer level will provide a more accurate reading.
However, having a longer level is not always preferred because it is not as convenient to carry around. A longer level will need to be carried in someone’s hand, whereas a smaller level can be attached to the toolbelt and taken anywhere with ease and used whenever required.
Therefore, many scaffolders prefer to carry around a smaller level which they use while they are installing the scaffolding, and use a larger level to perform spot checks or when installing crucial components of the scaffolding.
2. Able to Attach to a Lanyard
As was mentioned above, one of the dangers with scaffolding is the risk of objects falling. Therefore it is important that the user be able to attach their level to themselves using a lanyard.
In order for this to be possible, the level must have a built in “hook” or “ring”. This is common practice today, and therefore as long as the user has a lanyard with which to attach the level, the risk of the level falling and injuring someone below is minimized.
Another useful feature which many levels offer is the ability to stick to the piece of scaffolding. Many levels have magnets, which can stick to many steel surfaces. This is of particular interest if the employee needs to make adjustments to the scaffolding.
With the magnetic level, they can place the level, perform the adjustments (normally with the help of a screw), and will know exactly when the piece they are working with is level.
Some levels are extremely accurate, but this accuracy comes at an additional cost. Thus it is important to choose one that provides sufficient accuracy, without costing too much.
5. Resistant to Heat and Static Electricity
Many levels are also more resistant to heat and static electricity. This is another important aspect depending on the climate you are working in.
If you work in an environment where snow and cold weather are part of the everyday routine, it is advisable to ensure that you purchase a spirit level which will not give false readings when the temperature drops below a certain level.
6. Can Mobile Apps Work?
One question that is often asked today is whether a mobile app can be used instead of a spirit level.
One of the pros to using an app is the fact that nearly everyone today uses a cell phone, and thus they always have it with them.
One of the problems with using an app is the size of the phone. As mentioned above, the smaller the level, the less accurate it is. Another problem with using a cell phone is that the phone might not be able to withstand the rain or dust which is present on a construction site.
Also, many phones have different “attachments”, which make them uneven. This can include items such as pop-sockets and rings. Therefore, a phone app can be useful when looking for small readings, however when looking for accurate readings, an actual spirit level is the best tool to use.
Testing the Spirit Level
There are several steps that should be performed on a regular basis to ensure that the spirit level is working properly.
One of the methods is the 180 test, where the user places the level on a flat surface, and draws a line where the level is, and notes where the bubble sits. They then rotate the level 180 degrees, and see if the bubble is still in the same place. This will indicate that the spirit level can be used and does not need to be calibrated.
Scaffolding Spirit Levels
When deciding which one to purchase, it is important to know the purpose, so you can choose accordingly.
With all of the above points in mind, it is important to ensure that the spirit level can be attached, does not injure people or property below, that it is easy and convenient to carry around, and that it is accurate.
Sola LSX48 (48 Inch)
The Sola LSX48 is an example of a longer level which will not stay in the employees toolbelt, but is great to have when ensuring the major components are level.
Due to its 48 inch length, it ensures a more accurate reading than smaller spirit levels. It is also made of aluminum, so it is lighter than similar versions which are made of steel.
Tacklife MT-L03 (12 Inch)
The Tacklife MT-L03 is another example of a good level. It is 12 inches long, so it is slightly longer than the Johnson tool listed below. One of the benefits of this level is that it can be fixed to a magnetic surface (such as steel scaffolding) so it can be rested while adjustments are made to ensure the scaffolding is level.
Johnson Level Tool 1402-0900 (9 Inch)
The Johnson Level Tool 1402-0900 is an ideal level which can be carried by users. It is 9” long, and thus can fit in a toolbelt.