If you are the proud owner of a metal building or thinking of purchasing one, taking care to keep it comfortable and dry helps to extend the life of the building. Unlike traditional residences and commercial structures, metal structures have unique requirements as it pertains to condensation – sometimes referred to as ‘sweating’ in the business.
WHAT IS CONDENSATION IN A METAL BUILDING?
In circumstances where indoor air has more moisture than it can hold, the environment is right for condensation to occur. Warmer air is capable of carrying higher levels of humidity. However, as the air cools down, water droplets begin to form. When wet warm air comes into contact with the colder walls or the roof-line of metal structures, sweating results.
High levels of indoor humidity commonly cause condensation. Several factors can contribute to metal buildings sweating, including the HVAC system, how your building gets used, the use of space heaters, or faulty construction. Generally, when temperatures fall below 35 degrees Fahrenheit for extended times, visible or concealed condensation may occur.
There are two kinds of condensation; concealed and visible. Visible condensation materializes as frost, ice, or water. Prime areas where visible condensation may form include skylights, cooling ducts, cold water pipes, and insulation retarders. Concealed condensation, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. It’s harder to recognize and happens when humidity passes to the building interior and settles in an area with a temperature below the dew point. Concealed condensation identifies itself in stains, mildew, mold, and damp spots that appear on the ceiling and walls. If you notice blisters, bubbles, and other imperfections in surfaces around your structure, this could indicate a hidden condensation problem.
HOW DOES MOISTURE PENETRATE A METAL STRUCTURE?
Wetness and humidity can form in a variety of ways inside metal buildings. Some of the vectors that can result in unwanted condensation include:
- Incorrect selection of vapor retarders
- Faulty vapor retarder installation
- Improper insulation installation
- Leaky roof
- Through the Ground
ISSUES THAT CONDENSATION CAUSES IN A METAL BUILDING
Condensation is a serious issue that shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can cause long-term damage to multiple components of metal buildings.
The most damaging is corrosion. Even surface-treated metal can weaken and oxidize when exposed to condensation and moisture.
Condensation can also reduce the effectiveness, quality, and viability of insulating material. Damp or wet insulating material provides a favorable environment for contaminants such as mold and mildew to grow, which could cause potential health hazards for people with respiratory illnesses. Metal panels with prolonged exposure to damp or wet insulating material are at further risk of corrosion or rust forming.
In some cases, condensation can be caused by the flooring of the structure. When the ground is wet, this moisture can penetrate through the floor. A sound foundation constructed of the correct materials helps to prevent extra moisture from penetrating the interior of your home through the floor.
KEEPING YOUR METAL STRUCTURE DRY
Ideally, metal structure owners should strive to keep the relative humidity within their buildings between thirty to fifty percent. To help you achieve this balance indoors, here are some helpful tips.
Proper Insulation – Choose high-quality insulating material that provides a barrier between exterior metal panels and the interior of your building.
For best results, insulating material should get sealed at both ends. Insulating material should have no gaps whatsoever. Any areas with uninsulated and exposed metal are vulnerable to condensation and escaped treated air.
Air Circulation and Ventilation – Stagnant indoor air is the perfect environment for condensation to occur. The use of ceiling and floor fans improve conditions for evaporation to occur.
Without adequate ventilation, metal buildings may experience higher levels of heat, humidity, and stagnant air. The best air exchanges per hour vary depending on the building use.
Use A Dehumidifier – Dehumidifiers help to balance humidity in your home. By running one or multiple units, you can drop humidity levels from within. Alternatively, air conditioning is also helpful for reducing humidity levels.
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