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Old 12-29-2011, 09:18 AM   #1
Dauntless OP
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Venting a sea container

I bought a sea container this past summer and I put all of my garage contents in it to make room for vehicles. Today I noticed condensation dripping from the ceiling and a lot of my tools were wet. Is there a good way to prevent this? I had my DeWalt miter saw in there and now the switch sticks. Should I remove all of my sensitive tools and just store durable, less valuable stuff? Is it getting moisture in it because I have it sitting directly on my lawn?
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:29 AM   #2
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dauntless View Post
I bought a sea container this past summer and I put all of my garage contents in it to make room for vehicles. Today I noticed condensation dripping from the ceiling and a lot of my tools were wet. Is there a good way to prevent this? I had my DeWalt miter saw in there and now the switch sticks. Should I remove all of my sensitive tools and just store durable, less valuable stuff? Is it getting moisture in it because I have it sitting directly on my lawn?
Here is a pic of a typical turbine vent on a shipping container:

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Old 12-29-2011, 09:56 AM   #4
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As the warm humid air from the daytime cools at night, it will naturally condense on the cool walls. As Lm suggests, venting is the easy answer, but you'd need some serious jacketed loads to puncture a shipping container. Might try cutting in some eave vents instead.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:13 PM   #5
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Have a bud who uses a dehumidifier & I cut a hole (in floor) for the drain hose to lead outside about 4 ft away.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dauntless View Post
I bought a sea container this past summer and I put all of my garage contents in it to make room for vehicles. Today I noticed condensation dripping from the ceiling and a lot of my tools were wet. Is there a good way to prevent this? I had my DeWalt miter saw in there and now the switch sticks. Should I remove all of my sensitive tools and just store durable, less valuable stuff? Is it getting moisture in it because I have it sitting directly on my lawn?
The moisture is already in there, in the air; it's not coming up through the metal floor from the grass.

When the air cools, it's ability to hold water vapor falls and excess water condenses out, particularly on cold surfaces. For air with a constant amount of water vapor, as temperature falls, relative humidity rises until the air reaches a temperature too cold for the amount of water vapor it holds and the water falls out. It's a big issue inside boats too.

The surfaces of the container will cool well below the ambient (external) air temperature on a clear night due to radiant heat transfer, just the same as your shoulders freeze while you face the campfire, or surfaces in the midsummer sun get hot enough to "fry an egg". Thus even when the relative humidity of the cooling air doesn't reach 100%, exposed metal surfaces can get cold enough to condense moisture from the air.

Decent ventilation during the day will help ensure that any condensation dries out before the next evening, otherwise it will just get wetter and wetter each day.

Ventilation at night will still help if the relative humidity is below 100%.

Carpeting the walls and ceiling insulates them, helping prevent the contents from cooling as much as the exposed external walls and roof, and absorbs some moisture which condenses on the inside of the cold metal walls and ceiling, but again, you need to ventilate during the day to dry it out again.

Covering the outside of the container to prevent radiant heat transfer to the sky will not only reduce cooling (and condensation on the inside surfaces) at night, it will reduce heat build up inside on summer days. (I'm an Aussie, it's summer here now...) "Cover" could be anything from just shade, a tarp hung over the container with an air gap of a foot or so, to a 1/2" layer of polystyrene foam sheet.

Key points:
Ventilation to ensure that if ambient relative humidity is below 100%, moisture is evaporated and removed as more fresh air displaces the now more humid air.
Internal insulation to reduce exposed inside surfaces of cold external panels and reduce cooling of contents.
External insulation to reduce radiant heat transfer to the sky.
Something that can absorb moisture overnight and release it again when the air temperature rises and relative humidity falls. Conveniently, some insulations such as carpet also provide this effect.

There's a reason we carpet the cabin walls and ceiling in boats!
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfgang55 View Post
Have a bud who uses a dehumidifier & I cut a hole (in floor) for the drain hose to lead outside about 4 ft away.
I've never actually seen a dehumidifier, but that's because of the climate where I live. Certainly sealing the container up fairly well and actively dehumidifying the air inside will prevent condensation.

What do they cost and how much power do they consume? Presumably they are much like an airconditioner, cooling the air and draining the condensate, but reheating the air with the waste heat instead of rejecting it to the outside atmosphere? A bit like how a car aircon/demister cools the air to just above freezing first then reheats it, giving you very dry air for your windscreen.

You could run a small window mount aircon entirely inside the container so it both heated and cooled the air inside, with condensed moisture draining from the cold side. Obviously the moisture needs to be drained to outside the container or it will evaporate back into the air inside! In mid winter in North America, a small aircon unit should be dead cheap on ebay...
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:29 PM   #8
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Get your good stuff out of there NOW. We had the exact same thing happen.
When my dad passed on we got a big c-train and put all his things in it as well as his isuzu truck.
It was a month later when we opened it up. The smell of moldy papers was bad.
It would literally rain from the ceiling it you tapped the wall. All his books/papers were damp and moldy.
The truck engine was seized.
What we did was, At Lowe's in the plumbing section they have plastic drain covers, they are black about 2 or 2 1/2" dia. and about 1 1/2" deep with the vented end being a flange.
I took one of them to act as a template and 6 inches down from the roof and every 6 feet I marked a hole.
I cut the hole out with an Ox/Acet. torch and while they were still hot I pushed the vent cover in. From the outside they look factory done. From the inside they are a little rough looking but heck they keep the birds and bats out and there is ZERO moisture build up inside.
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:41 PM   #9
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sorry didnt read all the replies, but this is a issue with them. My dad had one, he took the seal out of the door and added the turbine like the one pictured earlier, kept it full of house hold goods for 2 years, no mold or condensation issues at all. you need a good air exchange top to bottom, easier said then done if your in a humid environment .
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:51 PM   #10
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Ok, the vents I used were actually (Grates used in drainage) Found them in the rain gutter section. Used in slabs and such to drain low spots.
Lowe's part number:
NDS 3" dia. Round Grate, Item #110848 Model# 14.
Took a while to find them on the web.
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:47 PM   #11
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As noted, just cut a couple of holes in it and install vents. Buddy of mine has one at his hunting property. He put a vent on one end (one the side) and an inexpensive solar powered exhaust fan pulling air out on the other end (opposite side of the vent). There's four wheelers and all manner of farm equipment in it including some chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, gas cans) with no problems over the last five years.
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:51 PM   #12
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Thanks for the tips! I will work on adding some vents and get my tools out of there for now.
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Old 12-30-2011, 02:40 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bikenstitches View Post
As the warm humid air from the daytime cools at night, it will naturally condense on the cool walls. As Lm suggests, venting is the easy answer, but you'd need some serious jacketed loads to puncture a shipping container. Might try cutting in some eave vents instead.
This
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