How to Lower Humidity and Keep Employees Comfortable in Your Office
During the summer months, humidity levels are higher both indoors and out. Inside an office, high humidity can cause multiple problems related to employee comfort and health. Here’s a brief introduction to the effects of humidity and how you can lower humidity levels in your office to improve employee comfort and reduce moisture-related issues.
What Is Humidity?
Humidity is, simply, moisture in the air. The air around you can hold a certain amount of moisture, or water vapor, depending on environmental conditions. Hotter air can hold more moisture. Relative humidity is a measure of the amount of moisture in the air relative to the amount of water vapor the air can hold before it becomes fully saturated. In general, an indoor relative humidity level between 30 and 50 percent is sufficient to maintain adequate comfort levels.
Effects of High Humidity
The following are a few ways humidity can affect comfort in your building:
- Inability to cool off: One of the most common ways our bodies cool themselves is through perspiration. As the perspiration on our skin evaporates into the air, it creates a cooling effect that lowers body temperature. Lower humidity levels are most effective for this process since humid air can’t absorb more moisture.
- Sluggish, tired feelings: High humidity can make a person feel tired and sluggish. In extreme cases, it can cause a sick feeling, as well as excess sweating.
- Environmental effects: An environment where humidity is high can have several effects on employee comfort. High humidity allows mold and mildew to grow more easily, creating potential problems from exposure to these substances. High levels of moisture also make it easier for insects and other vermin to thrive.
How to Lower Humidity in an Office
The same types of techniques to lower humidity in a home or commercial space can be effectively applied in an office setting. These processes include:
- Maintaining air conditioning systems: Your air conditioner not only cools your office space, but it also helps lower humidity by removing moisture from your indoor air. Make sure your air conditioner receives regular preventive maintenance from an HVAC professional to sustain its function, efficiency and ability to remove indoor moisture.
- Watching for spills and leaks: Spills, leaks and other unwanted sources of liquid can contribute to the humidity level inside an office. They can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can have adverse health effects. If any spills occur, make sure they’re cleaned up promptly and that wet carpets or other objects are either dried out or removed. If you suspect there may be a leak in the plumbing somewhere, have a professional plumber check the system and repair any leaks.
- Installing a room dehumidifier: A dehumidifier is a device that removes moisture from the air. Smaller room dehumidifiers can be used in individual rooms or areas where humidity is high. Monitor these devices carefully to ensure no mold growth occurs. Empty the water collection container regularly to keep the dehumidifier working consistently.
- Installing a whole-structure dehumidifier: If a smaller room-level dehumidifier doesn’t lower humidity sufficiently, you can install a larger system that will remove humidity throughout the entire office area. These are often installed near your HVAC equipment, and they’re designed to divert the airflow from your air conditioner into the dehumidifier. Inside the device, moisture is removed, and the air is returned to its regular route from the AC unit to your office interior, and back for filtering, recooling and redistribution.
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