Fans and Dehumidifiers Control School’s Air Quality


Fans used along with dehumidifiers were placed in storage once the building heat was turned on. Photo credit: Ian Culnane

Last fall, on September 11, 2013,  Mt. Greylock students and faculty were sent home at 12:45 due to slippery floors. Classes were also canceled the following day. As a result of the hazardous floors, the school’s custodial staff has placed fans throughout the hallways of the school this fall to prevent them from becoming unsafe again.

The floors became slippery because of a buildup of condensation. When the humidity hit the cool floors, the moisture in the air condensed, and the ground became wet. Principal Mary MacDonald said, “We have always been attentive to the [school’s] air quality, but since last year’s ‘slippery floors day,’ we have been trying to manage not only air quality but also humidity and temperature.”

“On March 15, 2013, we started the fans to respond to potential moisture issues in our school’s facility,” said facility supervisor Jesse Wirtes. The fans actually work in tandem with the dehumidifiers to control the amount of moisture in the air. According to Wirtes, “The fans keep potential moist air circulating towards the dehumidifiers. Air movement from the fans helps to dry out the facility’s surfaces, like the walls and floors.”

As of October 6, the custodians removed  all of the fans and dehumidifiers. Wirtes said, “With the cooler temperatures, the school’s heating system will take over to keep the air dry. The fans and dehumidifiers will be back in the spring to prevent any moisture in the facility.”

In addition to the seven fans, four large dehumidifiers and five small dehumidifiers, the school also has a “preventive plan in place, which corresponds with [changes in] the weather, such as dew point levels,” stated Wirtes.  He continued, “In the summer, we keep the doors and windows closed during a high dew point level and attentively watch for any intrusion of moisture.”

Wirtes has high hopes for managing the school’s humidity levels during the school year. He explained, “Since last winter we have been able to keep a low humidity level in our facility, which will provide us with higher air quality this full school season.”

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