Steps to avoid shipping container condensation

Prevent shipping container condensation

Have you ever noticed water dripping in your maritime shipping container? This water dripping from the wall is basically the resultant of shipping container condensation and gives rise to the issue that renders them useless if not given attention.

The shipping containers have been in use widely for decades and have been helping us by being at the backdrop. The things we use in our daily routine have one time or other travelled in cargo containers. Coming in different dimensions and types, they are in wide usage for transferring cargo to distant places. They are durable, heavy-duty, strong, and reliant; that is how they can work efficiently for years. Now you might be thinking, when they are so strong and can work efficiently for years, then how come this condensation affects them to such a huge scale that it renders them useless!

To give you an insight on everything about shipping container condensation, let’s move and know what it is first.

What is shipping container condensation?

When the dew point of the freight container feels lesser than the walls as the walls are way colder than the dew point, then it gives rise to shipping container condensation. The different temperatures and other factors affect the metal shipping containers more. Why? They are made of metals like steel, aluminum, and Corten steel. Thus, it has a problem controlling moisture when it reaches the dew point making the box colder than it should be. This turns the vapors into water and starts dripping on walls or under the roof after getting collected there. This results in huge losses as continuous water dripping will let water collect inside the box thus, harming all the cargo inside it.

The ways the shipping container condensation can hurt your cargo is by:

  • Damaging your cargo packaging
  • Corroding
  • Caking of powdered goods
  • Developing mold and mildew
  • Warping

What affects the amount of condensation in a shipping container?

Shipping container condensation’s primary cause is the shift in temperature but there are other aspects as well that incur it during the container transportation process. Let’s look at them one by one in order to avoid them and save them from any huge damages and losses.

Air Space: The air space between the goods can cause the condensation situation to grow. The more the space, the more the condensation-like condition in the cargo unit.

Cargo Moisture Content: The adsorptive goods like paper, wooden items, food items, cardboards, etc. have the tendency of emanating moisture when the climatic condition is colder outside. Thus, increasing the moisture content inside the unit.

Temperature: The shift in climate, nighttime, or the temperature varying during container intermodal transportation can lead to liquid building on walls and roofs.

Container Usage: The usage of containers actually amounts to condensation. You might be thinking how? From the opening of doors to the time taken during the loading and unloading process. If you keep opening your container door for a longer duration then it will lead to the situation same as if it takes quite a time in the loading and unloading process. This all amounts to the liquid building and storage in the steel shipping container.

Ventilation: The poor ventilation in the freight unit can obstruct the airflow in reefers or insulated containers. Thus, leading to moisture buildup as continuous airflow equalizes the overall temperature in the box.

Two types of condensation

There are basically two types of shipping container condensation that cause damage to the cargo. They are.

Visible: Moisture that one can clearly see on the walls, roofs, pipes, or floors is the visible one as there is no need of tearing anything apart, it’s just in front of the eyes.

Concealed: Concealed condensation is the one that the shipper or loader falls prey to. As it is not visible, they don’t tend to it and it stays behind walls, under the floors, thus damaging the freight box as well as the cargo.

It is necessary that you should take care of both types or you will have to suffer losses.

What are the problems that arise due to condensation?

You may think that condensation is just water building up in the box. What severe damage it may cause? But, that’s where you will have to become more attentive and address the situation before it manifests.

Let’s look at the problems that come up in the scene one by one.

Metal Damage: The continuous water clogging gives rise to situations like rust that eats the metal and before you know it, the steel shipping container grade will deteriorate and will have to go to a scrapyard.

Pallet Damage: Pallets are made of wood and wood gets affected by condensation very soon. Constant piling of water causes harm to the pallets rendering them useless in the long run.

Coating Damage: The paint of the cargo unit starts peeling off due to water and making the unit prone to rust and go to waste.

Machinery Damage: The refrigerated container and insulated container have built-in mechanics that maintain the temperature inside the box and keep the cargo in a safe condition. But condensation can prohibit the machines from working accurately by stopping the airflow. This also can lead to short-circuits as the conductivity in insulators and refrigerators goes high.

Insulation performance: The increased conductivity of water is inversely proportional to the R-value. As highly conductive water decreases the R-value of the insulator and thus, decreases the performance and sends the goods to go to waste.

Mold Generation: Due to mold generation, a pungent smell prevails in the metal unit. This increases the symptoms of asthma, allergy, and other bronchial disorders rendering the loaders, and workers succumb to diseases.

Slip Hazards: Other than this, when water keeps clogging the floors the workers, loader, and others may slip due to the wet floor, leading to serious slip hazards.

Steps to avoid shipping container condensation

Fully stopping shipping container condensation is not possible, but there are certain ways that can help you avoid it and save your cargo and the maritime container from serious damage.

Let’s look at them one by one.

By choosing the right pallets


When using pallet wide containers for cargo movement, you must always choose the right pallets for your unit. Today, in the rush of completing orders, the sellers are selling fresh wood pallets that contain moisture content and release it during the course of the journey. So, before buying pallet wide containers or taking them for lease, you must see that the pallets are of old wood but there is a glitch in this also. Many shopkeepers keep the pallets in damp places that also retain moisture in them in huge quantities. So, one might think about what the solution can be! Well, you can try plastic pallets that don’t have any type of moisture content in them. If you have to stick to wooden pallets only then you have to do smart shopping and buy the best quality complete dried one only.

Using desiccants

One can use desiccants for extra water absorption from the air. This maintains the dew point and safeguards the cargo as well as the box. They come in different varieties like bags, blankets, and pads. You can choose them as per the need and by choosing the right quantity and material.

Desiccant Bags: The shippers hang the bags on the walls from the ceiling for humidity and moisture absorption. It traps the moisture inside thus reducing the dew point in the cargo container that in turn saves the walls from condensation.

Desiccant Blankets: The leak-proof design of the blanket consists of breathable membranes. The shippers put it on the goods to stop them from emanating moisture in the container. There are some desiccant blankets that fully cover the goods and prevent any airflow throughout the box. This leads to a reduction in temperature shifts and prevents shipping container condensation.

Desiccant Pads: They are perfect for chilled cargo like food items, beverages, seafood, etc. The goods are kept above the pads and soak any type of spilled liquid during temperature shifts. This stops the molds, fungus from developing and prevents container rain as well. Some pads provide thermal protection for stopping moisture buildup by maintaining the temperature.

Insulating your container

When buying refrigerated containers you should see that the box has a fully set insulation system. With proper insulation, one can decrease the moisture content in the container and prevent moisture rain.

You can also insulate the container by spreading foil bubble wraps on the roof and walls of the container from inside. Along with this, one can use aluminum barriers or polystyrene insulation on the boxes’ floor. With insulation, you save the dew point of the container from dropping. Thus, preventing the temperature shifts and condensation that save the cargo from any major harm.

By installing ventilation

With the right ventilation, you can equalize the interior and exterior temperatures of the unit and reduce the moisture and humid content. The ventilation draws the air outside inside and throws the most air inside. Thus, maintaining the same temperature throughout the box. But ventilation will work in dry areas only. If you are transferring the cargo to areas where there is a wet climatic condition, the ventilation can worsen the situation and aggravate the condensation process. Ventilation is the right answer only in dry climatic conditions so choose ventilation properly.

By installing a dehumidifier

Dehumidifiers are perfect for reducing humidity and work well for long-term storage. The point that one must keep in mind is that it needs a continuous power supply. Keep emptying the water regularly from it or connect a hose to drain the water. With this, decreasing the moisture content in the container and floors is easier. But you should always go for a large and good-quality humidifier to drop the moisture content by even 40%.

What happens when you don’t avoid condensation in the container?

When you buy an insulated container or any such container, you invest quite a sum and for shipping cargo also you invest quite a hefty amount. The water-retaining not only causes harm to goods it causes damage to the box as well. So, think how much monetary damage one condensation is incurring that if you treated on time would have been not a problem. Thus, avoid shipping container condensation to save your profits.

So, you see how shipping container condensation is a huge problem and how by avoiding it you can save yourself from huge losses. Thus, before purchasing a shipping container, keep the above-mentioned points in mind and enjoy qualitative benefits. To avoid this you should buy the cargo container from a reputed container supplier.

LOTUS Containers is one such trustworthy container provider company where you can get all different types like flat racks, open top, reefer, and dry van containers for sale in all dimensions like 40ft high cube reefer containers, 40ft insulated containers, and many more.