Condensation Correction in Freezer Building


Condensation Correction in Freezer Building

By Tom White, Senior Vice President of Cold Storage

Many critical construction projects for cold storage facilities are not the large expansions or completely new facilities, but rather the seemingly minor repairs to cure ongoing maintenance and safety problems that result in a major impact to a space for facility managers. And although dry storage warehouses have their challenges, cold storage and freezer buildings add additional layers of complexity that require construction ingenuity and know-how.

Such was the case with this food processing client in Wisconsin. Their freezer and adjacent dock area were experiencing major condensation issues. The area included a freezer of -10 degrees F with a cold dock area containing multiple loading docks operating at a 38-degree F temperature.

The original design/construction had been approached as a “box in a box”; that is, a freezer “building” constructed within a larger non-freezer building. The cold dock was part of the original non-freezer building in which the freezer was placed. However, the structural steel and metal roof deck running through the cold dock carried through above the freezer, where the temperature was ambient. This created major condensation issues at the penetrations of the bar joists and the metal roof decking, which in turn was rusting everything on top of the freezer ceiling panel.

WDS Construction was brought in to evaluate the problem, make recommendations, and implement the solution. We opted to box in the bar joints on the warm side of the structure and insulate the underside of the metal decking on the warm side for a length of five feet. Insulated Metal Panels (IMP) and foamed-in-place urethane were utilized to accomplish this. To minimize temperature transfer from the cold dock into the ambient space above the freezer, the roof decking was opened and 1.5-feet of foam-in-place insulation applied on either side of where the freezer/cold dock partition wall met the roof. Roofing was then re-installed. Although it would have been preferable to cut the decking, this could not be accomplished structurally.

The end-result of the project was a drastic reduction in condensation, with the encapsulation of the bar joists and metal decking nearly eliminating all condensation in that area.

Facing unique challenges in your cold storage facility? Reach out to me at to discuss how WDS Construction can help address your issues.