Humidity (a shorter word to describe moisture in the air) increases in many parts of the world — both indoors and out — during the warm summer months. There can be a number of deleterious effects on both a building and its occupants if relative humidity, or the amount of water vapor air can hold before it becomes saturated, exceeds 50%.
Negative Effects of High Humidity
For starters, high humidity can make it difficult for the human body to cool itself, since one mechanism we rely on is perspiration. We enjoy an evaporative cooling effect when our sweat is absorbed by the air around it, but that’s less effective in high-humidity environments. It can also make an individual feel tired or sluggish. On the building side of things, high humidity enables mold and mildew to thrive, as well as pests such as insects or vermin. Excessive moisture in the air can also lead to unpleasant odors or even worse, property damage from condensation forming on windows, walls and ceilings.
There are a number of proven strategies for reducing the relative humidity in a commercial or industrial space, the most obvious of which is to install a dehumidifier. This is a technology that — you guessed it — removes moisture from the air!
If you don’t have a dehumidifier already, there are several other ways to offset the issue. First, maintain and run your air conditioning system. It not only helps reduce the temperature, it removes moisture from your indoor air.
Ventilation is also key to maintaining a desirable indoor environment. Ventilation fans can remove moisture, but you can also use passive ventilation strategies by opening windows or dock doors.
Large overhead circulator fans can also help combat high humidity in several ways. For one, the moving air across the skin can aid the evaporative cooling effect. Additionally, fans can mix the ambient air with colder air coming from the HVAC vents.
If you do have persistent humidity challenges, monitor your space for moisture buildup which can not only damage interiors, but also create a slip-and-fall hazard for employees. Localized dehumidifiers can be deployed in particularly problematic areas.
Trial and Error
It may take some experimentation to find the perfect balance in your space, so find the right mix of options and optimize the comfort, hygiene and safety of your space during these high-humidity summer months!