We know moisture issues can lead to mold and mildew growing in drywall board, ceilings, floors, carpets vents, ductwork and piping. Proper insulation practices are a building owners’ best defense against mold infestation in chilled water, refrigeration, and HVAC systems. Materials that are non-absorbent, fiber-free, and easy-to-clean are the best choice for avoiding mold and its far-reaching consequences. Closed-cell, elastomeric foam provides these properties for longer lasting systems and greater owner peace of mind.
1. Fully insulate all cold water pipes, ducts, fittings and condensate drain pipes with a closed-cell elastomeric foam material, like ArmaFlex®. It has the additional benefit of Microban® anti-microbial technology that prevents the growth of mold in the insulation.
2. Avoid gaps or unsealed seams using ArmaFlex 520 or ArmaFlex 520 BLV, and be sure to insulate all fittings, valve stems, etc. 3. Whenever possible, use insulation materials that have non-moisture-absorbing properties – especially on chilled water and refrigeration piping where condensation can become a problem.
4. Fully insulate cold-air supply ducts and air handling equipment.
5. Specify and install adequate insulation thickness to control condensation. Condensation control typically requires greater insulation thickness than thermal efficiency.
6. Carefully monitor indoor relative humidity, keeping RH at 60% or below.
7. Design systems with adequate drainage in mind. This means installing equipment at appropriate pitch for proper drainage, as well as providing for easy access to drain pans so that workers will be more inclined to check for drainage more often.
8. Change filters regularly and inspect for any accumulation of moisture or mold.
9. Clean and inspect air handlers annually and clean ducts every 5 to 10 years. In tropical climates and wet environments, cleaning may be required more often.
10. Seal cooling ducts during the heating season to prevent moisture from accumulating. Dampers are not airtight and therefore should be sealed by taping plastic sheeting over them.
Moisture needn’t be a problem in a well-designed and maintained HVAC system. Following these preventative measures will help facilities eliminate moisture problems and minimize the risk of mold growth.
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