Why Indoor Spaces Need Proper Humidity Control: An Overview
At Condair, we have been researching, developing, and modernizing control solutions for indoor humidity for decades. In that time, we’ve developed a comprehensive understanding of why indoor spaces need proper humidity control and would like to share this information to managing facilities across a wide range of applications. From hospitality and tourism to healthcare and agriculture, every operation demands a clean, safe, and hygienic environment.
Today, let’s paint a clear picture of what proper humidity control can do for your operation. As we work through the list, let’s focus on the benefits of maintaining a 40 to 60 percent relative humidity (RH) range in every room of your facility.
Airborne Infection Control
Indoor airstream contains microscopic aerosols. In dryer air conditions, these aerosols, along with water and salt, can carry and circulate harmful bacterial and viral pathogens from one place to the next. When humidity is properly controlled, between 40 to 60% RH, it reduces how far the aerosols travel, and forces these microscopic droplets to settle sooner. This is an important step towards managing the spread of airborne infections.
Hospitals, long-term care, and other healthcare facilities regulate humidity and temperature as a preventative measure to reduce potential infectious and viral outbreaks. Managing and maintaining optimal indoor air conditions are achievable and of value to improving the health and safety of patients, employees, and visitors.
Conditions that are excessively dry can introduce an array of irritants affecting the eyes, skin, nasal passages, respiratory tract, and immune system. When humidity is too low, dry air will draw moisture from any available source. Water evaporated from the eyes, skin, and nasal passages can cause discomfort such as dry sore eyes, itchy flaky skin, and sinus headaches. The dehydration has a more serious effect on our respiratory and immune system. When the mucous membranes in our nose and respiratory tract start to dry out, our immunes system’s natural defense mechanism to fend off airborne pollutants becomes compromised, leaving us vulnerable to infections and germs such as the flu and common cold. Knowing how to control humidity in a room – in all rooms – is therefore essential to avoid these problems.
More Productive, Effective Employees
Workers who feel better, perform better. In ideal indoor conditions, employees are more alert and careful, as the human brain requires sufficient hydration to function correctly. This translates to improved concentration, productivity, efficiency, hazard prevention, coordination, and cost control.
Maintaining optimal relative humidity helps suppress the build-up and the spread of dust over time. Conditions that are too dry are more prone to dust accumulation which can clog ventilation and equipment exhausts; trigger allergic reactions; and cause irritation to our eyes, nose, and throat. Proper humidity control in a room can also minimize the spread of allergens, such as dander, or airborne particulates dispersed from machinery, such as paint flakes, and reduce the distance that particulates travel for easier cleanup.
Minimized Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Risk
Electrostatic energy builds up on conductive surfaces in overly dry conditions, which can then arc to other similar materials or unfortunate individuals. Electrostatic shocks can range from mild and irksome to painful and serious consequences. Equipment isn’t spared from the risk of ESD either. Electrical short-outs, data corruption, component and device damage, and even fires are potential outcomes. Keeping your relative humidity between 40 and 60% RH ensures the pent-up energy on these conductive surfaces won’t exceed the safe limits.
Few companies have the capacity to replace their equipment sooner than intended, and maintaining appropriate indoor conditions with proper humidity control helps to prolong such expenses. With dust suppression and ideal relative humidity, components can operate as intended, maintenance needs can be less demanding, and your systems can perform at their peak for longer. By adding ideal indoor temperatures to the mix, you can prevent issues such as computer thermal throttling, assembly line equipment overheating and more. Extending the lifespan of your machinery ensures greater cost control, allowing you to gradually replace key components over time without overspending.
When you understand how to control humidity in a room or throughout your facility, you can reduce the reliance on costlier HVAC systems. In maintaining an ideal relative humidity range indoors, along with optimal temperatures, you won’t need to reach for the thermostat nearly as often, driving down energy bills over time. In addition, in some circumstances, you may be able to take advantage of adiabatic cooling, which could provide further cost savings down the line.
If you’re wondering how to control relative humidity, the answer is simple. Investing in a high-efficiency humidifier system is essential. Contact a Condair representative to help implement a custom, multi-faceted solution. This can be adapted to meet your required load capacity, operating requirements, and other critical needs. With over 70 years of experience, we can help clients achieve improved indoor conditions while implementing cost-efficient systems for a variety of applications. Let us help you make an informed and effective decision.