What is Condensation?
The air contains moisture. The temperature of the air determines how much moisture it can hold, and warm air contains more moisture than cold air.
When warm, moist air comes into contact with either a surface or air that is colder than it is, the warm air is unable to retain the same amount of moisture as it did and the water is released either into the cold air or onto the colder surface, causing condensation to form, quickly followed by mould.
Condensation is perhaps the most common form of damp that can appear in your home and can cause structural damage to your property including wallpaper to peel away, damp patches to appear on walls and a build up of moisture, which causes streaming windows.
Left untreated condensation can lead to mould growth which can be potentially harmful and lead to serious health issues and breathing difficulties which is why it is important to reduce humidity levels in a property.
The reason condensation appears in your property is due to a lack of adequate ventilation which causes humidity levels to rise. As we spend more time indoors and make our property more energy efficient the build up of moisture and humidity levels increase.
Causes of Condensation
Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there’s too much humidity in your home. This is especially common in winter, when your central heating system comes on in the cooler hours of the mornings and evenings.
In addition to central heating, everyday activities like cooking, showering, and drying clothes can release warm moisture into the air inside your home. When this moisture-packed warm air comes into contact with a chilly surface, it cools down quickly and releases the water, which turns into liquid droplets on the cold surface.
While condensation is rarely a problem in the summer, the amount of water in the air (otherwise known as the humidity) inside our homes is higher during the colder months. This is because we tend to have the heating turned up high and the windows closed. That’s why condensation is a bigger problem during this season, as it’s no longer confined to the bathroom. When the outside temperature drops, water can start to appear inside your home, especially on windows and walls.
While a bit of water might sound harmless enough, if condensation isn’t dealt with immediately it can go on to encourage black mould to start growing on your walls, ceilings, and around your windows. Not only is this stuff unattractive, having a lot of it in your home can lead to certain unpleasant health issues including sinus problems, skin rashes, and even bronchitis.
So how can you reduce the condensation in your property?
If you constantly have to wipe condensation off your windows and have a dehumidifier running for lengthy periods of time then you may want to think about whole house ventilation as a permanent solution to condensation and to improve the air quality indoors for your tenants or family.
If you are looking for a short-term fix rather than a permanent solution then here are our suggestions to reduce the condensation levels in your property:
If you have a washing machine or tumble dryer in your property, ensure that it is vented correctly. From just one load of washing two litres of water is emitted into the air.
Where possible, try to dry your clothes outdoors to prevent excess moisture from building up in your property. If you are unable to dry your clothes outdoor then keep them in a bathroom with the door closed and windows open until the clothes are fully dry.
When cooking food, boiling the kettle or taking a shower, ensure that your kitchen or bathroom door is kept closed to prevent the moisture in the air from going into colder rooms which will cause condensation to form if it touches a cold surface.
When cooking ensure that you cover your pans with a lid to reduce moisture being created from the water boiling. Also, ensure you are using an extractor hood if you have one above the cooker or an extract fan if you have one installed, these are designed to help reduce moisture created when cooking. Remember, don’t turn off your extractor fan as soon as you finish cooking as the moisture can still be in the air even when you have finished, instead leave it on afterwards for 10-15 minutes to help to clear the humid air. Another option is to purchase an extractor fan with intelligent humidity sensors which speed up when you start boiling water and slow down once humidity levels have returned to normal.
Similar to when cooking in the kitchen, when you are taking a shower or having a bath ensure that you turn on your extractor fan to remove the steam and moisture that is created when running warm water in a cold environment. This will help reduce the amount of condensation that appears on your bathroom windows and walls.
Portable gas bottles and paraffin heaters produce a lot of moisture, along with a lot of toxic fumes. Not only is this form of heat causing excess condensation in your property, it is also a health and safety hazard which is stated in most tenancy agreements as not allowed in rented flats.
Many families have house pets and plants which produce a lot of moisture. Make sure you cover up your aquarium or fish tanks to prevent excess moisture. If damp patches start to appear on your walls or you start to notice more surface condensation on your windows and walls near to your house plants then look to move them outdoors.
If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen then make sure that you wipe down any cold surfaces when you have been cooking or taking a shower to remove any moisture that may have settled on the surface. This excess moisture in the air sits on the surface and will quickly turn to mould if left untreated.
Do not overfill your wardrobes or kitchen cupboards. A lack of ventilation and air moisture trapped in warm overfilled cupboards can become a breeding ground for mould as the air is not able to circulate freely inside. You might notice a musty smell or clothes might have a damp feeling to them which is a sure sign that the cupboard is overfilled.
For the same reason as above, make sure that your furniture is at least 50mm away from the surrounding walls so that air can circulate around the property. Try to ensure that your wardrobes are placed against internal walls in your bedroom which will be less cold than external walls and less likely to cause damp and mould problems.
Ensuring an adequate amount of heating in your property will improve the internal temperature of surfaces in the house and reduce the likelihood of condensation. Also, make sure your home is energy efficient by ensuring you have insulated walls and double glazed windows installed so the heat doesn’t escape from the property.
If you use a room on a regular basis, such as a living room and the weather is not cold outside, open a window slightly to improve the ventilation in the room. Breathing is a major cause of condensation so this will help to improve the ventilation in your property.
Double glazing, loft insulation and draft proofing will help to reduce the amount of heat that is lost from a property. Installing insulation will help to keep the temperature of the surfaces inside your property at a higher level.
Adequate ventilation is essential to allow the moisture to escape from a property before it turns into condensation. Installing an energy-efficient extractor fan in the kitchen and bathroom can improve the humidity levels and prevent condensation.
If you are suffering from condensation problems then we may be able to help you. We have over 30 years experience in the industry and work across the whole of the UK to solve condensation and mould problems. We have local ventilation experts available, who can carry out a detailed survey and create a report which will tell you exactly what is causing the problem and how to rectify it.
If you are not sure if the problem is condensation or whether it could be rising damp or due to a leak from the roof or guttering then get in touch to request a free home survey and a local ventilation expert will visit your property at a time to suit you and check whether the problem in your home is due to condensation.