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Storms necessitate stepping up site dehumidification strategies

Following warnings from meteorological experts about continued severe weather over December, a humidity expert is warning contractors that construction sites must be braced against humidity risks posed by extreme rain and snowstorms.

In the wake of harsh conditions from Storm Arwen over the previous week, meteorologists British Weather Services have advised the UK to prepare for more of the same, with the Met Office issuing additional severe weather warnings. With this in mind, Matt Watson, moisture control expert for Aggreko Northern Europe, is imploring construction site professionals consider the long-term damage caused by ‘invisible water’ – moisture seeping into building materials from snow and rain.

“December has always been a taxing month for construction professionals, as the weather can pose significant operational challenges,” explains Mr Watson. “This includes damage to materials such as wood, plaster and paint, which can hamper increasingly tight project deadlines. Storm Arwen, and the further extreme weather that meteorologists are predicting will occur this month, stand to further disrupt these timescales.

“Yet in the rush to restart operations after these events, contractors may look to ‘blast out’ moisture with heating, quickly drying out affected areas. Yet by doing so, invisible water that has soaked into materials will not be removed, which can result in expensive long-term damage to structures. This quick-heating process can also result in mould growth, placing both on-site personnel and long-term building occupants at risk.”

In order to combat such risks, Mr Watson is advocating a more controlled process to remove moisture from affected sites, including the use of dehumidification equipment. Specifically, he highlights that by more tightly regulating environmental conditions, site managers can ensure works can safely continue without the increased risk imposed by invisible water.

“Extreme weather events are nothing new in this country, but climate change means they are becoming more frequent,” Mr Watson concludes. “Consequently, site managers must become more familiar with correct dehumidification processes if they are to navigate these complications without creating further concerns later down the line.

“Agility is required to address situations like these, and with COVID, skills and materials shortages squeezing capex budgets, hiring equipment such as dehumidifiers can allow for a swift response and keep building work on track.”

3 December 2021

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