Condensation is a problem that can affect any property both new and old. Some condensation on windows, for example, is totally normal and typically isn’t a problem, but if it starts to build up elsewhere or becomes excessive, then it can start to cause damage to your health and your property.
In this article we will investigate what causes condensation and discover ways to reduce it.
What is Condensation?
The first step in reducing condensation is to understand what it is and where it comes from. All air has moisture in it and the temperature of the air governs how much moisture the air can hold. Warm air, such as the air in your home, can hold more water than cold air. Activities that create steam; boiling kettles, having bath and showering will add more moisture to the air in your home which will increase the condensation you will experience. The condensation itself is caused when the warm air comes into contact with a cold surface such as a window, at that point less moisture can be held in the air and it drops out as water, which is the condensation you see. In older properties this warm air can be replaced by colder air, due to draughts in doors and windows.
What are the Issues?
Small amounts of condensation are not an issue and are perfectly normal but when it becomes excessive then it can start to create mould in your home which is a potential health hazard: Inhaling mould fragments or spores can inflame the airways, causing nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure to high levels of indoor dampness can reduce lung function and cause chronic health problems such as asthma. Condensation can damage the plaster in your home. It will also cause wooden window frames to rot over time.
The first way of reducing condensation is to reduce the moisture in the air in your home.
Top Tips to Combat Condensation:
- If you use a vented tumble drier, ensure that it is properly vented to the outside of your property to prevent the water from the drying process staying in your home.
- Dry clothes either outside on the line or in a tumble drier. If you dry clothes on an airer or on radiators then the water will simply collect in the warm air in your home.
- Put lids on pans when cooking. This will reduce the amount of steam in the air in the kitchen when you are cooking.
- When taking baths or showers, close the bathroom door to prevent the moisture from spreading and open a window or turn on an extractor fan to remove moisture from the air. Leave the fan on for around 20 minutes after you have finished.
- Keep furniture away from walls. By leaving a gap between your furniture and the wall you encourage air flow which will reduce condensation on walls.
- When condensation does appear, wipe the excess water away quickly to prevent it building up.
- Try to keep your home at a relatively constant temperature you will prevent cold surfaces from being present and without cold surfaces condensation won’t form.
Proper ventilation is key to ensuring condensation is minimised. Do not block venting bricks as this reduces air flow through the home, use the trickle vents on your windows to allow decent ventilation and keep your extractor fans on a trickle setting when not being used to keep air flowing through your home.
There are more sophisticated ways of optimising air flow in your home such as a heat recovery ventilation system, which will take warm moisture laden air from your home, transfer the heat from that, via a heat exchanger to fresh cold air from outside. This will heat the fresh air and send it into your home as warm air. The stale air is then extracted to the outside. Another option is Positive Input Ventilation. This process essentially pumps in drier air from the outside to replace moist air in your home.
Heating and Insulation
Insulate your walls and loft properly. This will avoid cold spots in your home and especially on external walls. If there are no cold spots, then there is nowhere for condensation to build up. The addition of double glazing will also help as the internal pane is warmer than the external pane and will be closer to the temperature of the inside of the home which means it isn’t cold enough for condensation to form.
Condensation can be a real problem but by taking a few simple steps to reduce moisture in the air and increasing the airflow through our homes, along with proper insulation to prevent cold spots, we can drastically reduce condensation and the problems it can cause.