Humidity is typically only thought of when it causes discomfort on hot, sticky, summer days. But as a condo building owner or manager, humidity can have greater negative implications than physical discomfort – it can cause building damage and air quality issues, too.
Are you unsure of what the proper humidity level should be in your condo building or how it can be achieved? Here are some tips to attain an optimal humidity level in your condo building all year round.
Relative Humidity and Building Performance
Relative humidity, which is a measurement of the moisture in the air, is temperature-dependent. The higher the temperature in the atmosphere, the higher the moisture level.
Improper humidity levels can be experienced in all four Canadian seasons, not just summer. However, since warm air is moister than cold winter air, the air feels stickier during the summer months.
During the winter when warm, moist indoor air meets cooler surfaces such as windows and exterior walls, condensation can form. This is because air can only hold a certain amount of water vapour before it becomes a problem.
Moisture on windows, peeling wallpaper and stained ceilings are all indications that a condo building may be experiencing a humidity problem.
Side Effects of Improper Humidity Levels in a Condo Building
Since materials swell and shrink depending on their moisture content, humidity can affect a material’s size and weight. Constantly changing moisture content can result in joists and studs shrinking, plaster cracking and wood separating. Too much or too little condensation can create havoc on your building’s ceilings, window frames, wooden furniture, artwork and more.
But besides the unsightly damage and decrease in resale value, there is a much bigger concern associated with improper humidity levels: the formation of mould.
When there’s an excessively high humidity level in a building, mould and dust mites can lead to respiratory issues such as asthma. And when the air is too dry (or relative humidity is below 30 per cent), breathing becomes difficult in at-risk individuals. Dry skin, sore throats and eye conditions can also become a problem.
How to Achieve a Proper Humidity Level
Regardless of the age of a building, mould spores only need the right conditions in order to thrive.
Mould is more likely to form in older buildings since these buildings have had more weather exposure and contain older building materials. However, newer homes can sometimes be so tightly sealed that reduced ventilation is experienced, which can lead to increased condensation problems in the winter.
Help avoid the formation of mould by maintaining the proper moisture level. During the winter months, keep your building’s humidity level above 30 per cent and ensure it doesn’t exceed 55 per cent during the summer.
Tips to control your building’s humidity levels include keeping the air cool in the summer, improving the building’s airtightness and keeping your building’s heating and ventilation system in optimal condition.
Does your building already have humidity damage, such as stained ceilings or peeling wallpaper? Folio Design Group Inc. can help. Contact us today to learn more about our experience with common elements and refurbishments projects in condo buildings.
By Sarah McKenzie