Understanding and Tackling Condensation in Metal Buildings

It is not uncommon that you find your roof, deck or insulation showing a collection of water droplets. This moisture condensation occurs predominantly when temperature and humidity fluctuations outside are high. This is further fueled by the high interior humidity which can arise out of your heating, and air conditioning system, improper construction techniques, the way the building is used, human respiration, oil, and gas-fired heaters and anything else that gives off water vapor. There are majorly two types of condensation. They are –

  • Visible condensation – These are manifested on surfaces like water, ice and frost. They are often spotted on insulation vapor retarders, cooling ducts, skylights and cold water pipes.
  • Concealed condensation – More damaging and difficult to control, they occur once the moisture has seeped into the building’s interior and then condensed on a surface having a temperature at or below the dew point. Moisture can get inside the building’s envelope due to various reasons like –
    • Improper vapor retarder selection or its improper installation
    • Improper insulation installation
    • Leakage in roofs
    • Water infiltration through penetration
    • Lack of a proper structural air barrier
    • Incorrect water vapor differential between the interior and exterior of a building

This condensation manifest as damp spot, mold, mildew and stain on walls and ceilings. They are often seen on delamination of laminated surfaces, peeling paint, bubbles or blisters in asphalt surfaces and damp insulation.

Issues arising out of unwanted condensation

Unwanted condensation may create havoc with the building and cause numerous sources of worries for a building operator like –

  • It can cause corrosion even on surface treated metal. The life of a building can be compromised as its metal walls and fasteners become oxidized and weak on exposure to moisture.’
  • They can reduce the effectivity of insulation.
  • They promote mold and mildew growth which can ooze unpleasant odor and cause health problems especially for people suffering from asthma or allergies.
  • It causes insect infestations.

Ways to reduce and eliminate condensation

The main aim here is to eliminate moisture such that the relative humidity inside remains between 30 to 50%. For it, various strategies can be adopted like –

  • Insulate your building by using metal roof condensation insulation. Here the metal roof is insulated using vinyl-backed fiberglass insulation. It blocks the humid air to come in contact with the cooler metal roof which may be at or below the dew point. Thus no moisture is formed.
  • Steps like double glazing, loft insulation, and draft proofing can curb heat loss from the property and thus prevent condensation. Insulation installation will keep the temperature of all surfaces inside the property high.
  • Adequate ventilation should be ensured as it allows the moisture to escape before they condense. Installation of an energy-efficient extractor fan in the kitchen as well as a bathroom can dramatically improve the humidity levels and ward off condensation.
  • As breathing is again one of the main causes of condensation, it is always advisable to open the window of the room slightly in which you are sitting or inhabiting. It vastly improves the ventilation.
  • It always pays to provide heating options to your property as they improve the internal temperature of the surfaces of the house and reduces condensation possibilities.
  • Always ensure that your washing machine or tumble dryer is vented correctly as they emit a lot of water vapor in the air.
  • Always try to dry clothes outside. If it needs to be done inside, open doors and windows to facilitate ventilation. Even the fan could be turned on for it.
  • One can always use a dehumidifier or even run an AC compressor to decrease humidity.
  • Often families have house pets and indoor plants which produce plenty of moisture. If excess condensation is happening, one should cover their fish tanks and get the plants move outdoors.

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