Minimizing Moisture Issues in Your New Office Building
A relative humidity level of 30 to 50 percent is a common range of moisture content for a commercial office space. However, when moisture levels rise higher, several problems can result. Here are some steps you can take to minimize moisture issues in new office building environments.
Excess moisture can cause:
- Mold growth: Mold grows more easily in a moist environment, and it can be an expensive process to remove it. Mold can damage structural components and papers. It also poses a serious health risk, especially for those who already have asthma, allergies or other respiratory conditions.
- Structural damage: High levels of moisture can warp flooring and furniture, cause wall coverings to begin peeling, and damage ceiling panels.
- Damage to equipment and paper: An excessively moist environment can cause damage to sensitive electronics such as computers, video and audio equipment, telephone equipment, and similar devices. A wet environment may also damage books, important documents, written records, and other paper materials.
- Uncomfortable indoor environment: High indoor humidity levels make the indoor environment feel warmer than it is. This could make the tenants in your offices uncomfortable and could lead to increased energy costs if occupants turn up their air conditioners to compensate.
How to Minimize Moisture Issues in New Office Building Spaces
Concentrate on these areas to minimize moisture issues in new office building environments.
- Controlling moisture is an issue to keep in mind both during construction and after the building is finished and commissioned.
- Make sure building materials are kept dry during construction. Store materials in enclosed spaces or cover them properly with plastic or other material to minimize exposure to rain and dampness. When stacking materials, use spacers between layers to improve air circulation.
- Dry out any wet building materials promptly. If construction materials do get wet, dry them out within 24 hours of the exposure to water. Materials that remain wet for more than 48 hours will have an increased chance of mold and bacteria growth and may not be usable.
Rain, snow and ice will be a consistent issue for the life of the building.
- Roof: Design the building’s roof with a slope that allows precipitation to flow off the roof. Flat roofs are more likely to retain puddles of rain that could leak into your building.
- Foundation: Ensure the ground slopes away from the building to take water away from the foundation.
- Entryways: Provide covered entries that prevent snow or rain from being blown into the building and that stop major accumulations of snow or water that could be brought into the building on people’s shoes and clothing.
A tight envelope makes your building energy efficient and can also help keep out moisture.
- Install a moisture or vapor retarder with your insulation: Metal foil or asphalt-soaked paper layers can help reduce the amount of moisture migration through framed walls, roofs and floors.
- Install a vapor barrier: Put a continuous vapor barrier (3-6 mil.) under floor slabs that would otherwise be in direct contact with the ground.
- Ventilate properly: Ventilate spaces where moisture can gather, such as attics, crawl spaces and wall cavities.
- Check wall and roof penetrations: Make sure wall and roof penetrations do not allow leaks or moisture infiltration. Check roof flashing, door and window frames, chimneys, vent pipes and similar areas.
- Ventilation keeps your indoor air clean and helps control moisture, but care should be taken to ensure no moisture enters the building during ventilation processes.
- Install whole-building ventilation equipment that minimizes exposure to moisture, preferably an energy-recovery ventilator that will recover some of the heating energy in exhaust air and incoming air (winter and summer, respectively).
- Install a whole-building dehumidifier that will reduce moisture throughout the entire structure.
- Make sure your HVAC system is properly sized to contribute to humidity control.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on how to minimize moisture issues in new office building construction, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!