If you're not taking proper measures to control moisture in your industrial environment, it's likely going to cost you. Moisture control helps protect products, processes, equipment, and people - and that's why proper measures must be followed.

This post covers the importance of industrial moisture control, what factors lead to mold growth, and various best practices facilities should follow.

What Factors Contribute to Mold Growth?

Let's start by covering what mold is. Specifically, it's a fungus that can grow on just about anything. When mold grows and spreads indoors—an enclosed space—it presents a health hazard. Mold only needs two things to grow and flourish - moisture and oxygen.

In households, mold is often found in leaky or humid basements. It may also be found in areas where moisture builds up around windows and doors. In the right conditions, mold can begin to grow in as little as 24 hours - and if it's not handled properly, it could continue to colonize, spread, and damage materials or belongings.

Mold can be equally damaging in an industrial environment. In addition to growing on walls, ceilings and other materials, mold growth can also pose a problem in operating and processing equipment in such settings. This is why effective indoor moisture control measures for manufacturers is critical.  

Health Effects of Mold Exposure

Mold isn't just damaging to property, materials, and equipment - it can also be hazardous to worker health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any amount of mold growth is dangerous. Mold should be properly remediated at the first sign of growth and proper measures should be taken to prevent it from growing.

Some health effects associated with mold exposure include:

  • More intense allergy symptoms (runny nose, sneezing, coughing, etc.)
  • Respiratory issues
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Headaches


Industries that Rely on Moisture Control

Many industries rely on moisture control to function. These include the food and beverage industry, printing, pharmaceuticals, water treatment, warehouses, and even greenhouses and vertical farms. Others include brewing, automotive, cold storage, electronics, medical and more.

Moisture control is important for different reasons in many of these industries. For instance, in the food industry, moisture control is important to ensure foods don't get overcooked and so product flavor and texture remain pure. In farming, plants grow and behave differently at various humidity levels. In printing, paper breakage and misalignment may occur if humidity is not properly controlled.

Effects of Moisture

Some of the other common issues that may arise due to poor moisture control include:

  • Electrostatic discharge: This is the buildup of static electricity, which is released when two or more objects come into contact with each other. This can damage electronics or other devices.
  • Product discoloration: Common in the food industry, too much moisture may mean that food products aren't cooked properly. This can do more than just impact the product's flavor and nutritional value, but its color and texture as well.
  • Product spoilage: Too much moisture can lead to faulty end products in everything from the processed food industry to pharmaceuticals.
  • Mold and mildew growth: In addition to potential health problems and poor indoor air quality, mold can be damaging to property and expensive to properly remediate.

How Facilities Can Mitigate or Control Moisture Levels

Here's a look at some of the best practices for indoor and industrial moisture control:

Indoor air quality monitoring and sensors

Monitoring indoor air quality is one way to detect if there's a problem in any facility, thereby allowing management and facility operators to take corrective action more promptly. Air monitors can be installed throughout a facility to detect various pollutants and humidity levels. On the most basic level, some examples of everyday air sensors are smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, which every home and business should have installed.

More advanced air sensors, such as those often installed in industrial environments, measure the likes of ozone and particulate matter, humidity, gases, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and more. Readings from air sensors can help influence humidity control measures and other moisture control techniques to facilitate an optimal environment.

Proper ventilation

Proper ventilation is another key to indoor moisture control. Vents and air ducts are critical infrastructures that support a building's HVAC system. They also tend to be damp places where mold and mildew grow - largely due to improper moisture control throughout the rest of a building. One way to control moisture buildup in a facility is to pay more attention to your facility's ventilation. Insulate air ducts. Change any air filters per the manufacturer's recommendation. Perform regular ventilation and air duct cleaning.

Proper ventilation can also help ensure better air quality in a facility. Natural ventilation includes the flow of air through windows, doors, and other openings.

Site and equipment inspections

Routine site and equipment inspections aren't just necessary for ensuring that your facility is operating well and in good condition, but for controlling moisture as well. For instance, leaking pipes and plumbing, broken seals, roofing problems, and equipment issues can all lead to water intrusion - and any water intrusion can lead to mold growth. The faster you can catch any problems, the faster you can implement the right fix.

Air barriers

Air barriers are commonly installed anywhere within a building's enclosure, both on external and internal surfaces. As the name implies, they work to prevent air from entering a facility and carrying any moisture inside. These barriers also help minimize air leakage. These key components are best installed during the facility design stage but can also be added following construction.

Humidity control

Some facilities require strict humidity levels to ensure optimal operation. To do this, industrial humidifiers or dehumidifiers are often installed to control moisture levels. As the names imply, humidifiers add humidity to an indoor environment, while dehumidifiers remove excess moisture and humidity from a given environment.

Perhaps the best example of the necessity of a dehumidifier is as it pertains to a home's basement. These tend to be damp spaces where moisture can build up. If humidity isn't properly controlled, it can lead to mold and mildew growth around any plumbing fixtures, windows and more.

Most industrial facilities require some level of humidity control. Take warehouses, for example. If excessive moisture is present in these facilities, it can lead to product damage and accelerated corrosion of important machinery. The same goes for manufacturing environments.

In other industries, adding humidity may be necessary. For instance, in greenhouses and vertical farming, adding humidity can help conserve water. However, control is important, as plants behave and grow differently at varying humidity levels. Humidity is also commonly added in food and beverage manufacturing to suppress water evaporation.

Whether you're adding or removing humidity, it's important to ensure that it's properly controlled for the best results.

How are you controlling moisture in your industrial environment? Now's the time to assess any moisture control measures and determine if any additional measures are necessary so your facility can continue to safely and efficiently operate.