Many homes suffer from issues with condensation, a process which occurs naturally when warm moist air comes into contact with a cool surface. Because it creates areas of damp and mould, condensation is frequently mis-diagnosed as rising or penetrating damp; however, the good news is that it is far easier to address and can usually be dealt with quickly and cheaply. However, if allowed to continue untreated, condensation may cause staining, decay and could ultimately lead to more significant and structural issues in the home as well as creating a potential health hazard.
What is condensation?
There will always be an amount of water vapour present in our homes resulting from how we choose to live our lives. The daily routine of cooking, heating, washing and drying clothes, bathing and breathing all deliver moisture into the air. This does not usually cause a problem during summer months, as we tend to have windows open, dry our clothes outdoors and use the central heating system less. However, in winter months when warmer water vapour trapped inside a room comes into contact with a cool surface such as an exterior wall or window, then condensation occurs.
Signs of condensation are;
- Beads and droplets of water on windows
- Pools of Water on the windowsill
- Wet and damp feel to the inside of external walls
- Damp patches on the inside of external walls
- Damp patches in the corners of rooms
- Black mould on window frames and windowsills
- Black mould on walls where there is little air flow, such as behind furniture or in corners of rooms.
- Black mould in cupboards
- Black mould on curtains and clothes
How to manage condensation
Condensation is usually managed by a combination of improving the ventilation of the home, reducing the moisture in the air and eliminating cold spots/surfaces. Here are our top ten ways to deal with condensation;
- Remember to open windows in the home, particularly if undertaking an activity which can create a considerable amount of condensation such as bathing or drying clothes.
- Trickle vents can be cheaply added to most windows to provide ventilation. Once installed, try to keep them open for a good part of the day to allow air to circulate.
- If you have them, always use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms. If you do not have extractor fans then consider installing them as they are likely to be one of the most successful ways of dealing with excess condensation.
- Manage your heating to minimise the significant variations in temperature which might exacerbate condensation. Homes susceptible to condensation may benefit from maintaining the heating on a lower constant temperature and having less variation between hot and cold periods of the day.
- Where possible and weather permitting, always try to dry clothes outside rather than on radiators.
- Consider purchasing a dehumidifier which extracts moisture out of the air. If you have no other option other than drying your clothes inside the house, then a dehumidifier could be a good investment.
- Do not push furniture right up against walls, especially external walls, thereby limiting the airflow. Similarly, don’t excessively fill cupboard spaces cutting off air circulation. If there are damp areas in cupboards then consider thinning out the contents and installing vents to cupboard doors.
- Try to minimise cold spots in walls and windows. Single glazed windows are likely to attract considerable condensation therefore, subject to budgetary constraints, double glazing is always preferable. Similarly. Insulating walls and ceilings will also be beneficial. Obviously, these are more expensive ways of dealing with condensation, however such measures are also likely to improve the homes energy efficiency.
- For serious problems with condensation, installing air bricks in exterior walls, air vents through internal walls, fitting roof ventilation etc might all need to be considered. However, do remember that all measures you take to allow ventilation of the home will result in heat being lost, so it is a delicate balance between energy efficiency and condensation management.
- Make sure that you clear any condensation when it arises so it does not create more significant problems such as rot or develop into mould. Use towels to wipe excess condensation on walls or windows, or buy a window vacuum. Clean areas of mould using an anti mould cleaner and then consider decorating with an anti mould paint.
Want to know more?
Why not check out our top tips for energy efficiency in the home.