If condensation is making your home damp and humid it needs to be bought under control to prevent expensive damage to your property.
This useful guide will help you to gain a better understanding of what condensation is, what causes it, and how reducing or banishing condensation can help to prevent damp and mould from damaging your home.
What is condensation?
Condensation is the process of water vapour (water in its gaseous form) turning back into liquid water. This reaction occurs when warm water vapour in the air meets a cold surface.
An example of condensation forming is when you breathe warm breath onto a cold window and it steams up.
In the home, condensation can occur at any time of the year, but is usually most prevalent during the colder winter months. Typically, October to March is what we refer to as ‘Condensation Season’.
This is because during the winter, when it is particularly cold outside, we switch the heating on in our homes. This causes the air in our homes to become very warm, whilst your windows and external walls remain cold from the outside air, creating the perfect conditions for condensation to form.
If you have steamed up windows with droplets of water forming over them, then this is condensation. Whilst your home’s windows may be the most noticeable place for condensation to occur, they are by no means the only place it can form.
Condensation can form on any surface, including the walls, doors, floors, and ceiling. It is even possible for condensation to occur inside the cavity between your walls, this is called interstitial condensation.
How to identify condensation
Whilst condensation on glass windows and doors is easy to spot by the steamed up glass and droplets of water running down them, in other areas it may not be so obvious that condensation is the problem.
Signs that condensation may be present include:
- Droplets of water on a surface – when condensation is present you will often notice droplets of water, water running down a surface, or a surface that feels damp to the touch.
- Small pools of water – small pools of water forming at the bottom of a surface are often caused by condensation running down and collecting.
- Damaged plaster or peeling wallpaper – when condensation forms on plaster or wallpaper it can cause it to bubble, flake or peel away.
- Black mould – if condensation isn’t dealt with quickly, the wet and warm conditions will quickly develop unsightly and unhealthy toxic black mould.
- Damage to fabrics – if condensation is causing an excessive amount of dampness in the air, then you may notice damage to fabrics around your home like furniture, curtains and clothes. Fabrics may feel damp to touch, smell musty, or even have mould growing on them.
What are the causes of condensation?
Homes that are particularly prone to condensation usually have either inadequate ventilation, poor insulation, or both, creating the perfect conditions for condensation to occur.
If your home isn’t well ventilated, then all the warm damp air that forms is trapped in your home.
Poor insulation can also contribute to condensation as it can cause surfaces in your home, particularly external walls and windows to become very cold.
Damage caused by condensation
If condensation problems are not addressed, then over time they can cause significant damage to your property and an unpleasant and unhealthy living environment.
Damage that can be caused by condensation includes:
- Black mould.
- Bubbling paintwork and peeling wallpaper.
- Crumbling plaster.
- Damage to furniture, curtains and other fabrics.
- Structural damage.
As well as damage to your property, condensation can also be damaging to your health. Some of the moulds that can develop in our home as a result of condensation can cause a variety of health issues including respiratory problems and skin allergies.
How to prevent damp and condensation
An excess of warm, moist air within the home makes condensation more likely to be a problem. It is impossible to completely eliminate moisture from the air, as even breathing causes water vapour to form.
However, when performing everyday activities that create a lot of steam and moisture, like cooking, drying clothes, or showering, it can help to prevent condensation if you take measures to let the steam and moisture escape from your home, rather than allowing the moisture laden air to travel around your home.
Showering and bathing
When showering or bathing, keep the bathroom door shut and turn on the extractor fan if you have one. If you don’t have an extractor fan, open the windows immediately afterwards to let some of the hot steamy air out and keep the bathroom door shut even once you’ve finished.
The same goes for cooking, shut the kitchen door whilst you’re cooking to prevent the steam escaping to the rest of the house. Also, put lids on your pans, turn on extractor fans and open windows to let moisture out.
Washing and drying clothes
Avoid hanging clothes up to dry inside the house, particularly putting them on radiators. When you leave clothes to dry in the house, all the moisture from the clothes is escaping into the air. Hang clothes outside instead whenever possible. Make sure that your tumble dryer is properly vented to prevent excess moisture ending up in your home.
If a lot of condensation has formed on your windows each morning, use a kitchen towel or a cloth to wipe away the moisture and dry the surface. In rooms where condensation is a problem, make it a habit to leave windows open, even if it’s only very slightly, for at least 15 minutes every day to let moisture escape.
Try to keep the temperature in your home constant, with a minimum background heating of 10 degrees.
At times when you cannot or do not want to have the windows open, turning on a dehumidifier can help to draw some of the moisture out of the air.
How to resolve your condensation issue
Whilst it is possible to take measures at home to reduce condensation, it is likely that you will need to make some changes to your home in order to resolve the problem.
Having work carried out to resolve condensation can help to create a healthier, more comfortable living environment for you and your family whilst saving you money on costly repairs later down the line if the problem is left to worsen.
An expert will be able to assess the extent of your condensation problem and identify what is causing it before advising you on the most effective and cost-efficient course of action.
To bring condensation under control you may want to consider one or more of the following treatments:
- Double glazing
- Extractor fans
- Loft insulation
- Wall insulation
- Wall vents and air bricks
- Passyfier vents
- PIV systems
- Penetrating damp treatment
If your home has already been damaged by damp and mould you may also require work to have this damage repaired.
To speak to an expert or book an appointment with a surveyor, get in touch with our team here at Atlantis Damp by calling us on 0800 0988 277.