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Managing Humidity In Garages

The UK not only has a humid climate, but we also suffer from inclement weather. That can lead to all kinds of concerns in building such as garages. The average relative humidity can range from around 50-60 per cent in the spring and summer, to as high as 80-90 per cent in the colder months of autumn and winter. This climate, combined with regular rainfall and fluctuating temperatures, makes humidity a problem, but it can easily be managed and avoided with proper humidity control.

Why Is Humidity In Garages A Problem?

More than 50 per cent of UK homes have access to a garage. Whether a garage is attached or detached from the main building, they tend to suffer from the same issues. Garages are confined, dark, damp, cold in the winter and warm in summer. They have wide entrances that allow rainwater and snow to creep inside, but are usually enclosed and have bad air circulation. We even bring more moisture into garages ourselves when driving in cars and bikes that have been in the rain, for example. Depending on how a garage is used, they inevitably experience problems with condensation and damp. Those conditions are the ideal breeding ground for mould and mildew - plus many other issues.

What Are The Implications?

When the relative humidity of a space is above 60 per cent, the speed that rust can develop and spread in these damp conditions increases significantly. Firstly, rust dramatically impacts the appearance of whatever if effects. Whether you fix up or display classics cars, or simply take pride in your belongings, rust is the enemy. Restoring and repairing rusted metal can be time consuming and expensive. Some of the restoration work might be suitable for DIY, but much of it might require a knowledgeable or experienced professional.

If left untreated, rust can weaken and corrode metal surfaces and damage connections, mechanical parts and electronics. This damage can compromise both the function and safety of a vehicle, or a piece of equipment. If internal components of a car, motorbike, or boat rust, they can be dangerous to use or they might not run at all. If you rely on a vehicle for any reason, you could be looking at some costly downtime.

If the relative humidity of a space is above 70 per cent, mould and mildew can start to thrive on surfaces. The presence of mould and mildew can result in musty smells and make the area unpleasant. Exposure to spores can irritate your nose, eyes and also lead to respiratory problems or other allergic reactions. Apart from the health implications, mould and mildew can destroy stored items, such as papers and documents. It can also grow on vehicle interiors and damage the actual infrastructure of a building.

How Do I Control The Humidity In My Garage?

A dehumidifier will collect and extract the excess moisture from within a space. It will physically remove water from the air, lowering the relative humidity and recirculate dry air. There are many different types of dehumidifiers available and you will be able to find the perfect model to suit the requirements of your garage. Garage dehumidifiers are compact and robust. They can handle the adverse conditions and continue to operate efficiently and reliably. There are garage dehumidifiers that are designed to be wall mounted, installed into cavities and rafters or freestanding. Some models come with internal water tanks that collect the condensate, so you can empty them manually. Other models have pumps or outlets, so you can connect to a hose and have the water fed into a sink, external grid or a separate container. It is relatively easy to set up a continuous dehumidifying system that keeps your garage dry and protects the items within from water damage, damp and mould.

Refrigerant Dehumidifiers Vs Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Refrigerant dehumidifiers use a system of fans, refrigerated coils and heating elements. They draw humid air in, pass it over the cold coils to lower its temperature below the dew point and cause the water it holds to condensate. The condensate drips off into a tank or outlet, while the dried air is heated and recirculated to collect more moisture.

Desiccant dehumidifiers use a system of fans, a reticulated mesh of absorbent material on a rotary wheel and a heating element. They draw humid air in and pass it through the desiccant wheel, so it can collect moisture. As the wheel turns, a section of it is heated and any water it absorbed can be removed as vapour, then the dried air is recirculated around the space.

Refrigerant models work well in areas of high humidity and when temperatures are above 3-30℃. A refrigerant dehumidifier would be ideal for a garage that never gets too cold, whether that is naturally or if there is some heat supplied to the area.

Desiccant models are more effective in colder temperatures and can work in temperatures below 0℃. A desiccant dehumidifier would be perfect for a garage that is very cold and unheated. They do consume more energy than refrigerant models and need to vent water vapour out of the space via ducting or an exhaust.