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Thread: Shop humidity with a space heater

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Posts
    8

    Default Shop humidity with a space heater

    Should I be concerned with humidity in the shop using an electric space heater? I'm concerned with drying my wood out and running into problems later on. I'm building Oughtred's Penny Fee in a garage without much ventalation, and I don't expect the door to be open much this winter.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Port Townsend WA
    Posts
    10,553

    Default Re: Shop humidity with a space heater

    Unless your shop is well vented you needn't worry much as the moisture can't escape with exiting hot air. The first sign of changes in moisture from such a heater will be condensation on windows. I solved the problem by keeping my building and wood storage area unheated. Only my drafting room and machine shop are heated. Mind you they are not big spaces just more comfortable for certain work with a bit of heat from the wood burning stoves. Thermal underwear helps too.
    Jay

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Southampton Ont. Canada
    Posts
    5,754

    Default Re: Shop humidity with a space heater

    Unless you have a source of moisture like a leaky roof or a pile of wet wood, you shouldn't have any trouble.
    The current cold snap will show condensate on your windows,but it is short term.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Deer Isle, ME
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Shop humidity with a space heater

    Some construction methods may be more sensitive to the effects of shop heating than others.

    When planking my Haven with kiln-dried Atlantic white cedar, I had taken enormous efforts to get all the seams tight. I finished planking in the fall, before it got particularly cold here in Maine. I took a break from boatbuilding for a month or so around the holidays and when I got back to my shop that winter, I found sunlight streaming through all the plank seams. My shop is a converted three-car garage that I insulated and outfitted with a propane heater. Because the shop has plumbing, I keep the heat running at 55 degrees all winter. Even this low level of heating drove the humidity level in the shop very low. I was later told that traditional boatbuilders did not build in sealed workshops that were fully heated, but worked in drafty sheds (or outdoors) with only woodstoves for a point source of heat to stave off frostbite.

    On the other hand, I have never noticed any adverse effects of heating on glued-lap marine ply construction. The ply is very stable. If that is your construction method, you may be fine. If you are using kiln-dried mahogany for your backbone, etc. that may also be fine. White oak is notorious for swelling and shrinking with changing moisture levels.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Searsport, Maine
    Posts
    146

    Default Re: Shop humidity with a space heater

    +1 to what Bill says. Each shop is different too. My shop has a significant amount of moisture that comes up through the slab. Without running a dehumidifier and a heater so the dehumidifier can work, ice builds up on the windows. All this at 55 or less. You can get a cheap humidity meter at the hardware store and watch it to see what your space does.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cundys Harbor, Maine
    Posts
    764

    Default Re: Shop humidity with a space heater

    An electric heater in the shop will LOWER humidity levels, the extent of lowering depending on the temperature. In my experience with epoxy strip construction, heating to 60F caused no problem during building. After the boat was launched, soaked up seawater all summer and brought back into the (occasionally) heated space, drying was noticable in the deadwood.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Shop humidity with a space heater

    Thanks, guys. It looks like I'll be good.

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