Dehumidification and Planned Maintenance

Humidity control via dehumidification is vital in so many businesses, across a wide variety of business sectors. From the creation of charcuterie products, the storage and protection of classic cars and valuable artefacts, through to the manufacture and packaging of tablets and powders in the pharmaceutical sector. The need for dehumidification is wide reaching, and the applications are varied.

But choosing the right dehumidification solution isn’t that simple. It takes specialist knowledge and skill to select the correct dehumidifier – with either refrigerant or desiccant technologies – for each project. And while we can’t share all of that with you today, we can explain some of the differences, and what each entails.

Refrigerant Dehumidification

Refrigerant dehumidifiers work by drawing in air and passing it over a cooling coil, which drops the temperature to below its dew point. You can achieve extraction rates between 25 and 3000 litres per 24 hours, depending on the size of the unit, and can be drained using either a fitted condensate pump or simple drained out via duct work. Some units can also be placed on castors for portability, but they are more commonly fixed wall mounted models, or fixed bracket ceiling mounted versions. There is even a through-the-wall solution available, which means they can be fitted in pretty much any environment.

Other positive features of the refrigerant dehumidifiers include:

  • Sound-proofed compressors, meaning low operating noise
  • Easy access panels for simple maintenance
  • Coated internal components, which can withstand aggressive environments

This opens up a huge variety of different applications for refrigerant dehumidification solutions, from warehouse storage, the protection and storage of documents or artefacts, a variety of manufacturing processes, all the way through to managing swimming pool plant rooms. The only catch is that refrigerant dehumidifiers can’t operate at very low temperatures – anything below 1⁰C – which means if your environments are low temperatures, you will need a desiccant dehumidifier instead.

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Desiccant Dehumidification

Unlike refrigerant dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers will operate at a much lower temperature than refrigerant ones, which means they will continue to extract moisture from the air even in very cold and sub-zero conditions (although the air doesn’t hold much moisture in these conditions.

Desiccant dehumidifiers use a silica gel desiccant rotor to remove moisture from the air, and are ideally suited to cold, unheated environments like storage facilities and cold rooms, where the temperature can get as low as -10⁰C. This technology stops the humidity from dropping moisture onto the cooling coils and causing them to ice up, or to achieve very low humidity in areas like the pharmaceutical sector. One area this would be a benefit is the manufacturing or lithium-ion batteries – a large, growing market requiring a very low humidity (we’re talking a -40⁰C dew point and 0%rh) in order to protect the components.

Just like with refrigerant dehumidification, desiccant dehumidification units are available in a wide range of sizes, in permanent and semi-permanent installations, to provide a solution for all scenarios.

Investment vs Reward

Of course, investing in something as major as a humidity control system will come at a cost in any scenario, but in almost all cases the savings and benefits are worth it, and often the investment will end up paying for itself.

For example, the protection of rare books, priceless artworks and valuable documents is clearly essential to preserve value for individual investors or national/global organisations. Indoor trampoline parks, swimming pools and ice rinks (or really any business in the leisure sector), all require humidity control – primarily dehumidifiers – to prevent mould, odours or the unwanted dripping of condensation from ceilings. Apart from being generally unpleasant, water on the floor is a health and safety issue, and could be an expensive mistake to fix. In food processing or storage areas, dripping condensation might carry bacteria into or from the food product, leading to more serious health and safety issues.

Storage of documents, which could be on paper or on film, need to be kept in the best possible condition – especially for things like geological data from the oil industry. Film can turn brittle and be unreadable if the environment isn’t kept within tightly controlled parameters, and to lose this data would be a massive cost. Without the appropriate humidity control cooling coils, cold rooms might frost up, using extra energy, impact the operation of machinery, which has a knock-on effect on productivity, cost and quality of product.

Maintenance Commitments

Of course, every piece of machinery requires some level of maintenance. Once installed, dehumidifiers will need routine maintenance work done, which mainly includes changing filters to ensure airflow through the unit is maintained and no pressure drops happen.

We generally recommend a planned maintenance programme for all dehumidification solutions, as this ensures you get the best quality of service from the equipment, with minimal disruption. And while you might view it as an unnecessary expense, repairs when something goes wrong, along with any potential losses to your business, will be much more expensive. When we say loss to your business, this could happen in a couple of ways:

Over time, the air filters in your units become dirty, and the fans have to work harder to push the air through the dehumidifier. This takes more energy and creates more wear on the fan and fan motor, shortening its operating life. Unchecked, the system also becomes less efficient at generating the precise conditions required, resulting in a deterioration in production or the climate trying to be created as time progresses. If left still even longer, the airflow could eventually cause the fan to stop or overheat which creates an equipment failure making the situation critical with loss of production or control of the humidity.

Typically, an emergency call-out will cost more than a planned maintenance visit, so it will save you more money in the long run to plan your maintenance. We understand that humidity control isn’t always necessary throughout the whole year for many sectors, which is why we adjust the timing of our visits to reflect your peak unsafe.

Remote Monitoring

If a planned maintenance contract isn’t quite right for you, an alternative is to opt for remote monitoring. This is where the maintenance company monitors the units from their own offices, and provide maintenance only when needed. For example, if the unit triggers an alert saying that the pressure drop across the filters has started to increase, or that the operational hours run above the recommended level, or a fault code is activated. The maintenance company will be notified, and they can take the appropriate actions.

The required actions might be as simple as a phone call instructing a restart, or sending a service engineer to fix the issue. In this case, the service engineer already knows what the issue is, and can come prepared with the appropriate equipment and parts. And because alerts are often set to sound before the dehumidification system actually fails, everything is kept running efficiently – saving you time and money while still maintaining the humidity control you need.

By choosing the most appropriate technology for your application, installing it correctly and having a good maintenance plan in place, you can access excellent dehumidification at a reasonable cost.

If you would like to know more about your dehumidification options, just get in touch with the team today, and we would be happy to help.

Why Wood Processing Needs Humidity Control, Not Just Temperature Control

If you’ve ever lived in a house with wooden doors and doorframes (and we’re going to presume you have), you probably know how much temperature can impact wood. When it gets cold, wood tends to swell, and when it’s warm out, it shrinks back. But did you know that it’s not really anything to do with temperature at all – but humidity?

 

 

Wood And Humidity

 

Let’s start with the basics. Wood is a natural substance, very common building material and attractive medium for building furniture, decorations and artwork in. Almost every home in the country will have wood in it somewhere, in some form or another.

 

But wood is a hygroscopic material, which means its internal moisture content will fluctuate based on the relative humidity (or rh) or the surrounding air. This means that as the humidity increases, the moisture content increases, and the wood expands. When the humidity drops, the moisture content decreases and the wood shrinks. This is why your wooden doors and doorframes might fit differently at different times of the year. During the winter the moisture content in the air is high, and so the wood in your home will swell. During the summer heat it’s low, and so it will shrink back down.

 

While this might seem like nothing worth writing home about for you, when it comes to manufacturing or processing anything to do with wood, it can present real problems.

 

 

Drying Wood

 

The manufacturing process of wood starts when the tree is felled, and already moisture and humidity control is a key factor. In a tree that’s just been felled the wood is ‘green’, and free water (otherwise known as sap) fills the cavities. This free water accounts for around 72% of the total moisture content of the tree, depending on the species. The remaining 28% of water volume is within the wood fibres, saturating the cell walls. This is called bound water, and it’s what causes the fibres to swell – just like a sponge swells when you get it wet.

 

As the green wood dries, the free water evaporates first, and then the bound water. The shape and size of the wood generally won’t change (this is called being ‘dimensionally stable) as it loses the free water, but as soon as the bound water starts to evaporate it will contract and shrink. Generally wood will dry to a moisture content of between 4%-11%, but it never really comes to a rest. The amount of bound water in the wood will continually change with the amount of water in the surrounding atmosphere, gaining or losing about 1% of moisture content for every 5% change in relative humidity. So for wood manufacturers the key is to try to create a stable environment so the product changes as little as possible during creation.

 

 

Why Control Humidity In Wood Manufacturing And Processing?

 

So the first, and maybe most obvious reason you would want to control humidity within wood manufacturing, is to create a stable, repeatable product without imperfections. Creating that perfect, controlled environment with the right level of rh has a huge impact on the final product, so humidity solutions can help you to create higher-quality results with minimal investment.

 

Not only that, but dry air can result in the wood textile fibres becoming fragile and breaking as they run through looms, causing massive delays to manufacturers who need to continuously repair machines. Dry air also creates something called micro-dust ‘flocks’, which are formed from the dust particles of the wood clumping together. These can get caught in machinery and looms and cause significant damage.

 

Humidity control addresses every single one of these issues, creating the perfect environment for wood processing, manufacturing and treatment. This is one of the reasons humidity control is such an important issue for wood and timber manufacturing plants. At Humidity Solutions we provide a range of solutions to solve all of these problems and keep plants working at optimum. If you would like to know more, read out our timber and wood processing solutions here or get in touch with the team today.

 

Solving Humidity Issues In Manufacturing

As seasons change and temperatures begin to vary from day to day (don’t you love British weather?), manufacturing facilities, processing plants and other manufacturers may notice their HVAC system alternating between heating and cooling, sometimes on an hourly basis. But even with the best in-house climate control system, temperature swings can create unique issues for manufacturing facilities in terms of humidity. In order to keep their plants working as normal and prevent delays, they need to control the humidity variables properly.

 

 

Common Issues Caused By Humidity

 

Manufacturing is a delicate process, often with a lot of tight specifications to work to. But depending on what is being manufactured, a lot of the issues faced will depend on their individual specialisms. For example:

 

  • Machine shops will often suffer, particularly during big swings in outdoor humidity. The build-up on indoor moisture can cause condensation on equipment, wet floors and saturated electrical panels – all of which are an accident waiting to happen.

 

  • Plastic injection moulding machinery is often water-cooled. Any moisture forming on the machines can result in product discolouration.

 

  • Printing facilities can suffer from paper wrinkling, shrinking or expanding, all of which cause ink registration problems.

 

  • Drying cycles, or more specifically any product that requires a specific drying cycle during the manufacturing process. Examples include plants that manufacture or store dry foods like spices, cereal and candy, or producers of recycled rubber mulch. If air moisture levels are too high, drying times can be longer than needed, slowing production, losing productivity and increasing energy consumption. Dry food packaging plants also risk compromising food quality if a consistent indoor environment is not properly maintained.

 

But overall, the main issue for manufacturing is keeping the excess moisture in the air at a minimum so that it doesn’t interfere with the final product. If it does, it can cost manufacturing companies thousands in ruined merchandise and work.

 

All of these small issues can quickly snowball into big problems for manufacturers on tight deadlines. So rather than wait for these issues to come about, they need to install a humidity solution to prevent them.

 

 

Solving Humidity Problems

 

So how can manufacturing plants ensure that their processes aren’t disturbed by fluctuations in humidity? First, ensuring the premises is properly sealed with a vapour barrier in the walls and ceilings. This step prevents moisture and humidity from seeping into your building.

 

The next, and perhaps most important step is to get a dehumidification system installed to control the humidity levels at all times. Depending on what is being manufactured, the level you need to keep the humidity at will vary, so an expert will be able to design a custom system to meet those requirements. They will also be able to ensure all air introduced into the manufacturing space is properly treated, with air run through the humidification system to remove excess moisture before it enters the building.

 

Ideal dehumidification solutions will allow for a perfect energy balance; by focusing on air extraction, heat transfer, maximum relative humidity in each season, temperature inside the building, and level of humidity caused by production, you can craft a customized dehumidification system for your unique needs.

 

 

At Humidity Solutions we offer a variety of humidification and dehumidification equipment and solutions, all tailor made to suit your company’s needs. We specialise in humidity solutions for industrial manufacturing, commercial, food & beverage, health & leisure, conservation, and even residential solutions. With our help, you can simply and effectively alter the air quality, temperature and humidity of your environment to achieve optimum comfort. For more information on our solutions, or to ask us about humidity control in your organisation, just get in touch with the team at Humidity Solutions today.

 

Demystifying The Dehumidifier

When it comes to choosing a dehumidifier, for either your home or your work, you will not be short of options! The market is full of different makes and models of dehumidifier, each designed to do something slightly different, or to work in a specific environment. This range means you are more likely to find exactly what you need, when you need it. But with so many options available for both industrial and domestic dehumidification, how on earth do you choose between them all? In today’s article we wanted to explain what some of the most common types of dehumidifier are.

 

Refrigerant Dehumidifiers

 

A refrigerant dehumidifier works by passing air over a cooling coil repeatedly, dropping the overall temperature to below its natural dew point. This means that they condense the moisture out of the air, which can then be pushed over warm coils and then out into the room at pressure, at the correct humidity.

 

Meanwhile the condensation from the air is collected in the cold coils and dripped into a large pan, which can then be emptied. In some models of refrigerant dehumidifier the water will be emptied directly through a hose mechanism instead of being emptied manually.

 

Building Dryers

 

Building dryers are any model of dehumidifier specifically designed (or well suited to) use at a building site. The term ‘building dryer’ tends to apply to any dehumidifier providing two key functions: portability and robustness, both of which make them perfect for tough building site environments. They are commonly used to dry concrete and water damage leaks on construction sites. They are also popular in the restoration industry, particularly with flood damage, as they can extract between 40 and 70 litres of water every 24 hours.

 

Standard Refrigerant Dehumidifiers

 

Standard refrigerant dehumidifiers will come in a range of brands, but each offers a more permanent solution than building dryers. These can usually be found in fixed wall mount versions, fixed bracket ceiling mounter versions, and even through-the-wall solutions. This means there are a wider variety of end-user applications for them, from warehouse storage to manufacturing and even swimming pool plant rooms. These are most attractive for commercial applications because moisture extraction rates of 25 to 3000 litres a day, with extraction via ductwork and pumping. They also come fitted with sound-proofed compressors (making them low-noise), easy access panels and coated internal components to withstand even the most aggressive environments. However, a standard refrigerant dehumidifier won’t operate at temperatures below 1 degree, so they aren’t suitable for cold environments.

 

Desiccant Dehumidifiers

 

Desiccant dehumidifiers work in a slightly different way. They use a silica gel desiccant rotor to remove moisture from the air, and are ideally suited to cold, unheated environments – like storage rooms or cold rooms. They are also perfect for achieving a very low humidity, which is why they are also used in the pharmaceutical sector. Because desiccant dehumidifiers will operate at a much lower temperature than their refrigerant cousins, they will continue to extract moisture from the air even in a very cold or sub-zero environment (although the air doesn’t hold much moisture under these conditions.

 

There is a very large range of desiccant dehumidifiers for you to choose from, from small, portable units to large capacity, semi-permanent units that have to be placed by crane. With 2 separate fans handling the regenerates and reactivated air, 40ml rockwool insulation (for quiet operation), and multiple hose outlets, these units can be used in all scenarios.

 

At Humidity Solutions, we provide a full range of dehumidification solutions, including all of those listed above. In fact, we are the only independent specialist in humidity control, and have access to the whole of the market of humidifiers from the world’s leading manufacturers. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with us today.

6 Questions To Ask When Designing Your Humidity Solution

You might think that when it comes to humidity solutions, it’s all out of the box machines installed into different buildings. Sure, there are some complications, but mostly it’s pretty straightforward, right?

Wrong.

At Humidity Solutions, every single one of our installations has been custom designed to meet client requirements. Depending on what type of business they are, their location, the products or services they are providing, and even the type of building they’re in. Each element needs to be painstakingly planned to match the needs of the client, which is why we ask so many questions before we put pen to paper. To help you understand what kind of humidity solution you might need, and how we work that our, we’ve pulled together some of the questions we ask our customers when designing the specs for their humidification systems.

 

  1. What Level Of Humidity Is Required, And How Much Can It Fluctuate?

This is perhaps the most important question we ask, since different uses will need different levels of humidity control. For example, if we’re fitting a HVAC system for an office environment, then humidity levels between 40% and 60% relative humidity are perfectly fine – since this will keep people comfortable and keep static build-up down. But if we were looking at a manufacturing plant, then the level of humidity required would probably be much more specific, with much less room for fluctuation. For instance, printers need to control their relative humidity to between 50% and 60%, while textile manufacturers require 65%-75% for optimum performance. An ideal museum environment is between 45%-55% RH, but with a daily fluctuation limit of +3 to protect exhibits. Pharmaceutical manufacturers need to keep fluctuations even tighter, around +2, to prevent wasted product. By understanding the level of humidification and fluctuations you need, we can spec a system that has higher or lower speed responses, or tighter controls.

 

  1. How Long Will The System Be Running, And When Can It Be Shut Down

Some humidification solutions will only need to be run during set times of the day, like production times, while others will need to be running 24/7. This simple fact will change the number of humidifiers you need, along with where they are placed and what type they are. A critical humidification that needs to be constantly delivering a stable level of humidity needs to be able to cope with long running times, and must have standby humidifiers to take over the load when the main unit needs to be shut down for maintenance.

 

 

  1. How Important Are Running Costs?

There are many different types of humidifier, all of which incur different running costs, so understanding your budget and your environmental influences is important when choosing the right system for you. For example, some steam systems can use considerably more energy than more efficient evaporative humidifiers, and cost more in maintenance and spare parts. So while the purchase cost for a steam system might be lower, the ongoing costs can be higher, which should be factored into your decision.

 

  1. What Quality Water Is Being Used?

 

When it comes to humidity, water quality and maintenance requirements are heavily linked. Poorer water quality leads to more minerals being left behind in the humidifier once the water has boiled or evaporated, which in turn costs more to deal with. So if you are in an area with low-quality water, then a water treatment solution might also need to be included in the design.

 

  1. What Evaporation Distance Is Required?

 

For humidifiers providing moisture to ducts or to AHU systems, the humidifier needs to be able to evaporate the moisture into the air stream before it meets any physical obstacles, like duct corners. If it doesn’t, there will be a build-up of condensation in pipes, and this can cause its own set of problems. Depending on the distance evaporation is needed to travel, you may need to have specialist steam lances installed, or opt for a humidifier model with instant evaporation.

 

  1. Where Do The Humidifiers Need To Be?

The positioning of the humidifiers within your building is also an important factor in deciding the spec. After all, you might find that not all areas of your building need humidity solutions, or if they do, they have different requirements. You may have an office space on an upper level of the building that requires one RH level, and a manufacturing plant on the lower flows that require another. This means the placement of your humidifiers will also change the solution chosen, and how it’s installed.

 

At Humidity Solutions we offer a variety of humidification and dehumidification equipment and solutions, all tailor made to suit your company’s needs. We specialise in humidity solutions for industrial manufacturing, commercial, food & beverage, health & leisure, conservation, and even residential solutions. With our help, you can simply and effectively alter the air quality, temperature and humidity of your environment to achieve optimum comfort. For more information on our solutions, or to ask us about humidity control in your organisation, just get in touch with the team at Humidity Solutions today.