We all know what happens when you take a cold soda from the fridge on a hot summer day: condensation forms on the outside of the can. This occurs because the can is below dew point, which is the temperature at which water vapor contained in air of a particular pressure and humidity condenses into liquid water. While a puddle at the base of a Diet Coke is generally a minor issue, condensation forming indoors on walls, glass, and metal surfaces is quite another story.
Most people in the HVAC industry know that going from freezing temperatures to the opposite extreme too quickly can result in what’s known as flash condensate, which can extensive damage to electronic and mechanical equipment in mechanical rooms. On wintertime construction projects, flash condensate can be prevented by having working heat before equipment installation begins.
Case in point, unheated mechanical rooms at a large facility under construction last winter were subjected to several weeks of freezing temperatures, followed abruptly by a few days of abnormally warm temperatures. Without benefit of heat, cold components and equipment, including double-ended switchgear, transformers, control panels, PLCs, and CPUs, reached dew point and began to sweat and drip, both inside and out. The engineer on the project immediately recognized the seriousness of the issue and reached out to MSC to help reverse the problem. Temporary electric heat and ventilation was quickly brought on line to arrest further dew formation on the gear and panels, and equipment and panel doors were opened to help dry out the equipment. Once conditions were stabilized, sensitive electronic gear was inspected and tested to verify that no internal harm had occurred. Fortunately, due to quick action, only a few electronic parts and instruments had to be replaced.
Remember: you can’t change physics, but you can always learn how to work with it.
Mechanical Service Corp.
41 South Jefferson Road
Whippany, NJ 07981