When you’re on a deadline, you can’t always wait for wood to season. After you cut lumber to the precise measurements required, it could still expand or contract, depending on the moisture levels and temperatures in the environment. Specialists refer to this phenomenon as equilibrium moisture content, or EMC. By implementing construction drying solution throughout a project, you’ll prevent EMC-related changes and the headaches that follow.
The Effects of Moisture on Lumber
Untreated wood is a popular building material used to construct homes and buildings because of its strength, cost-effectiveness and flexibility. Despite all the benefits that lumber offers, it is vulnerable to the effects of moisture, which include cracks, splits, dimensional instability, rot and bowing. Excess moisture in lumber also attracts fungi and insects. Evidence of an infestation often isn’t visible until the organisms colonize and grow in number.
Despite the threats to untreated lumber, only certain types of wood products used in construction must be treated to protect against rot, insects and fungi. Incidentally, contractors spend billions of dollars annually to replace and repair lumber.
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Keeping lumber dry, however, poses a challenge from the start. After it’s milled, the wood is shipped to a lumberyard and then a construction site, where it might sit outside for weeks or months. During this time, it’s exposed to various forms of moisture, from morning dew to afternoon showers. Because of the ongoing demand for wood, the lumber available today is often greener and younger than lumber used a couple decades ago. Green lumber naturally has a higher moisture content, making it more susceptible to problems in the future.
Construction Drying Solutions for Lumber
Before hanging sheetrock on a lumber frame, for example, wood should have a moisture level of 12 to 14 percent. (Note: Other types of wood products have different acceptable moisture ranges.) If the levels are higher, it is best to allow the lumber to dry to tolerance levels before proceeding. Unfortunately, ambient conditions usually are not conducive to drying lumber in a timely manner.
To stay on schedule and maintain the EMC levels of lumber and millwork, contractors seek construction drying equipment, which include heaters, dehumidifiers, moisture mapping, and ventilation systems. The equipment also has monitoring systems that ensure conditions aren’t too dry, as overly arid environments are also problematic. Not only does the equipment dry wood and maintain its EMC level, it also helps wet building materials, such as concrete, dry at an appropriate rate. This makes lumber and millwork less likely to absorb moisture from wet materials as they dry.
Temporary drying solutions are ideal for more than just the construction phases of a project. To make sure that lumber is ready for installation, it is wise to store it in a covered well-ventilated environment with the appropriate temperatures and relative humidity levels to avoid delays. Monitoring systems on construction drying solutions ensure the environmental controls are at the right settings.
When lumber performs as expected because you implemented construction drying solutions, you reduce the risk of:
- Financial losses due to throwing away rotten wood, wood that expanded or contracted, and materials that became moldy because of exposure to wet lumber
- Project delays due to re-work and waiting for materials to dry
- Warping, cracking and dimensional changes
- Future liability
- Mold and insect infiltration
- Energy losses from using ineffective equipment
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Nature does not always provide the ideal conditions for construction projects. Rather than work harder to maintain the integrity of the wood products used, work smarter with Polygon’s temporary construction drying solutions. The affordable, energy efficient solutions prevent setbacks and, more importantly, demonstrates that the quality of work that your firm provides extends past the construction phases. Get in touch with Polygon today and let us know what we can do to improve the performance of the lumber at your sites.
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