The low cost way to avoid mold in media centers
The EPA says, "The key to mold control is moisture control." Obviously, water leaks must be fixed. However, in humid climates, there are times of the year that there is enough water in the air to grow mold. There are only two strategies that control humidity adequately during humid times—use an air conditioner with "reheat" or a dehumidifier. Reheat is a method of adding heat to an area to make the A/C run more.
Air-Conditioner with Reheat:
An A/C removes water as a byproduct of cooling the air. Since a below grade room is cooler than above grade room, the A/C runs little, so humidity levels are elevated. "Reheat" adds heat to trigger the A/C unit. This is quite energy-intensive. Electric reheat removes only about 6/10 of a lb. of water per kWh vs. about 5 lbs. of water per kWh for the most efficient dehumidifier.
The simplest, most energy-efficient way to control humidity is to shut off the A/C unit and operate a high efficiency, high capacity dehumidifier. Get humidity control even during humid, cooler conditions. During unoccupied times, shut off the A/C and let the temperature rise. The dehumidifiers will handle humidity and you'll see tremendous energy savings.
How to grow mold in media centers
If your media center is not air-conditioned, or if you shut down the A/C unit for the summer to save energy, you are "on the edge." If Mother Nature sends you cooler, humid air for days at a time, the RH inside the media center will rise. This makes conditions ripe for mold growth. If you have no A/C, it will be humid.
If you have A/C, but the outdoor temperatures don't let it operate for any significant time, you'll see high RH, so again you are counting on Mother Nature to avoid sending in cooler, humid air.
Is it ever 70°F and rainy for a few days where you live? Some people have tried running the A/C anyway by turning down the thermostat. This is a sure-fire "mold-maker" during humid times. Actually condensation can occur on the cold inside surfaces. It's also likely that condensation is forming within the walls since the inside surfaces are colder than the outdoor dew point. Turning down the thermostat to make the A/C operate is a common way to provide an environment for mold growth.
Therma-Stor offers schools a free, no obligation demonstration of our dehumidifiers. As part of the demonstration, we include data loggers to monitor temperature, RH, and dew point to verify performance.
Therma-Stor's most commonly used units in schools are the self-contained Santa Fe Rx and the ducted Ultra-Aire 150H.
Santa Fe Rx:
This unit is a powerful, self-contained, portable unit designed specifically to be quiet. Wheel it in, run the hose to a drain (from the built-in condensate pump), and set the dehumidistat. The Santa Fe Rx is Energy Star rated as the most efficient unit in the industry—using only 6.3 amps to remove 86 pints of water per day! It handles 2,200 square feet typical and has the option of HEPA and/or charcoal/permanganate air filtration.
This is a powerful, energy-efficient ducted dehumidifier. It can typically handle about 3,500 square feet. The unit removes about 145 pints of water per day and plugs into a standard 115-volt outlet. The 150H also has optional high-efficiency (a near HEPA MERV 14) air filtration.