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EXCESS HUMIDITY IN BUILDINGS

One of the more common building performance failures is excess humidity. Except for building envelope moisture intrusion, the cause is related to mechanical and ventilation systems performance, or lack thereof.

Unfortunately, many buildings are designed and built to fail.
  • Up north designs are being used in the south.
  • Designers meet the minimum construction design codes, but do not account for adequate “make up” for air “exhausted”.
  • During the bid process, a working design is compromised due to “value engineering”.
  • Equipment breakdowns and improper / lack of maintenance.
  • The “use of space” has changed.
  • Overtime mechanical equipment replacements, upgrades or changes were done without proper design considerations.
The challenge when dealing with this problem, is that the problem cannot be permanently and quantifiably fixed without a detailed mechanical diagnostic (Step 1). It is impossible to evaluate your needs accurately without proper analysis. If you’re experiencing moisture “symptoms” you cannot assume that all the equipment in place is properly sized, designed, installed, and up to standards. In most cases, it is not. Further, when determining improvements, it’s more economical to supplement the mechanical infrastructure you already have.

We must look at the building holistically, as a whole, i.e. the parts of the mechanical systems in the building must be made to operate as a whole. The negative pressure / humidity in the building can only be addressed by this process.

Every air moving device such as kitchen fans, bath exhaust fans, general ventilation fans, outside air fans and more, affect the way the building operates. If you want sustainable Indoor Air Quality (temperature and humidity control) then we must do the study.

Moisture Balance (article)

Moisture accumulates in the building envelope when the rate of moisture entry into an assembly exceeds the rate of moisture removal. When moisture accumulation exceeds the ability of the assembly materials to store the moisture without significantly degrading performance or long-term service life, moisture problems result. The moisture storage capacity of a material depends on time, temperature, and material properties.
- Source: Ashrae Article, Joseph Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng.