Dealing with condensation in your home
Dealing with condensation in your home
What is condensation?
There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If air gets cold, it cannot hold all the moisture produced by everyday activities and some of this moisture appears as tiny droplets of water, most noticeable on windows on a cold morning. This is condensation. It can also be seen on mirrors when you have a bath or shower, and on cold surfaces such as tiles or cold walls.
In Britain, condensation in houses is mainly a winter problem, particularly where warm moist air is generated in living areas and then penetrates to the colder parts of the building.
The moisture in the air comes from a number of sourceswithin your home. Water vapour is produced in relatively large quantities from normal day to day activities – a 5 person household puts about 10 litres of water into the air every day (without taking into account any heating).
Up until the middle/late part of the twentieth century, most houses had high natural ventilation as the level of home insulation was low. Conservation then became popular and natural ventilation was greatly reduced by the introduction of double glazing, insulation, draught excluders, fitted carpets (which prevent air movement up through suspended wooden floors) and then the removal of open fireplaces with the introduction of central heating.
Where does condensation occur?
The most vulnerable areas will either be rooms where a large amount of moisture is produced i.e. bathroom/kitchen, or on cold surfaces in other rooms where this moisture can travel to.
The effects of this process may be visible, for example droplets of water on gloss painted windowsills, but often water droplets will soak into a wall and a problem will not be diagnosed until black mould patches start to appear.
The following areas are particularly prone to condensation:
- Cold surfaces such as mirrors, windows and metal window frames
- Kitchens and bathrooms
- Walls of unheated rooms
- Cold corners of rooms
- Wardrobes/cupboards and behind furniture against an outside wall.
First steps against condensation
You will need to take appropriate steps to deal with condensation, but meanwhile there are some simple things you should do straight away.
Dry your windows and windowsills every morning, as well as surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom that have become wet. Avoid drying clothing on radiators.
First steps against mould growth
First treat the mould already in your home, then deal with the basic problem of condensation to stop mould reappearing.
To kill and remove mould, wipe down or spray walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash that carries a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ’approval number’, and ensure that you follow the instructions for its safe use. These fungicidal washes are often available at local supermarkets. Dry-clean mildewed clothes, and shampoo carpets. Do not try to remove mould by using a brush or vacuum cleaner.
After treatment, redecorate using good-quality fungicidal paint and a fungicidal resistant wallpaper paste to help prevent mould recurring. The effect of fungicidal or anti-condensation paint is destroyed if covered with ordinary paint or wallpaper.
But remember: the only lasting cure for severe mould is to get rid of the dampness.
Top tips to tackle condensation
The major difference between condensation and other forms of dampness is that you have the ability to reduce or solve the problem just through changing behaviour in the home. Try following these steps:
Reduce the moisture
Normal activities such as bathing, washing and cooking all produce moisture which cannot be avoided. Simple changes however can prove effective in tackling condensation dampness. Steps to consider are:
- Keeping lids on saucepans while cooking
- Tumble dryers should be vented to the outside
- Drying washing outside when possible
- When creating steam in the kitchen/bathroom open windows and close doors to these rooms. This will let moisture escape and prevent it from spreading through the house
- Ventilate your kitchen and bathroom for about 20 minutes after use by opening a small top window. Use an extractor fan if possible - they are cheap to run and very effective.
This is required so that moist air produced can escape; simply opening a window will do, or opening a trickle vent (if you have these on your windows).
Keep your homes warm
Condensation is most likely to be a problem in homes which are under heated. Try to keep temperatures in all rooms above 15°C as this will reduce condensation forming on external walls.
Heat your home at low levels for a long time rather than high levels for short periods; this will ensure that there are fewer cold surfaces in the home.
Complaints and queries
If you have any queries or complaints about condensation, please contact us.