Tech Talk: Handle Humidity Like a Pro

Humidity is an essential aspect in all buildings no matter the season. However, it fluctuates throughout the year as temperatures rise and fall. This can make it difficult to ascertain and correctly monitor the correct level a building needs to be healthy.

Low moisture levels can cause:

  • Building/structural damage
  • Comfort levels to drop for those in the building (i.e., feeling dry, static shock, etc.,)
  • Growth of bacteria, viruses, and hazardous conditions

High moisture levels can cause:

  • Building/structural damage
  • High water levels in the air and systems
  • Growth of mold and other bacteria

While these are just a few negative impacts to a building, too little and too much humidity can cause many more problems. See below for the recommended humidity levels in buildings and ASHRAE standards.

Table 1
Temperature and Humidity of an Office Environment
CSA Z412-00
  Temperature % Relative Humidity
Heating Season 20-23.5C°
68-75F°
50%
Cooling Season 20-23.5C°
68-75F°
50%
Table 2
Examples of acceptable operative temperature ranges based on comfort zone diagrams in
ASHRAE Standard-55-2004
Conditions Acceptable operative temperatures
Summer (clothing insulation = 0.5 clo)
Relative humidity 30% 24.5 – 28 76-82
Relative humidity 60% 23-25.5 74-78
Winter (clothing insulation = 1.0 clo)
Relative humidity 30% 20.5-25.5 69-78
Relative humidity 60% 20-24 68-75
Source: National Research Council (Canada) Indoor Air Quality and Thermal Comfort in Open-Plan Offices, Construction Technology Update No. 64, October 2005* These values are based on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 55 – 2004 “Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy”.*

As we begin to experience colder months, hazardous and uncomfortable conditions are on the rise. Catch them before they occur by conducting routine checks on thermostats and humidity sensors. With many components monitoring and controlling humidity levels, it’s important to inspect humidity sensors before broken parts wreak havoc. Healthy humidity levels = healthy buildings and happy people.

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