Every home suffers from condensation to some extent. Warm moist air is created when cooking, washing clothes and bathing. Even breathing releases significant amounts of moisture into the air.
Condensation occurs when warm moist air touches a colder surface and water droplets form. You can see examples of condensation on misted mirrors after bathing or misted bedroom windows on cold mornings. The same process will occur on walls and ceilings particularly if they are cold and poorly ventilated.
Condensation is most likely in places where there is little movement of air particularly in corners, on or near windows, and behind wardrobes or cupboards. Unlike penetrating or rising damp, condensation does not usually leave a tidemark but it can lead to the growth of mould, usually black spots, on walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Condensation usually affects properties between October and April when home ventilation is at its lowest. During these colder months people tend to keep windows and doors closed which allows water vapour to build up in the home.
It is important to bring condensation in a property under control as it can lead to major problems for the building and for you and your family. Condensation can be reduced by tackling three main issues:
- Minimising the amount of moisture released in the air.
- Ensuring good ventilation and circulation of air.
- Ensuring adequate heating and avoiding cold spots in the home.
If you have a condensation problem we will do whatever we can to help by checking that your heating is working correctly, repairing (or fitting) extractor fans if necessary and ensuring adequate and appropriate insulation. The biggest impact however, is made by the people occupying the home. Use your heating and ensure adequate air circulation.
- Set your heating controls to give a constant low-level background heat trying to ensure there are no rapid changes in temperature which encourages condensation.
- Even rooms you don’t normally occupy still need a low-level of heat and ventilation.
- Avoid using paraffin and portable bottled gas heaters because they produce a lot of moisture.
- Close kitchen and bathroom doors when in use. If you have extractor fans make sure you use them, if not then open a window and leave it open for a while when you’ve finished cooking or bathing.
- Cover cooking pans and don’t leave kettles boiling – this will reduce the release of steam.
- Whenever possible dry washing outdoors or in a closed bathroom with a window open or extractor fan on – never dry washing on heaters or radiators.
- If you use a tumble dryer it is best to use a self-condensing type.
- Improve air circulation – open windows regularly to help take moist air out of the property. If your windows have trickle ventilators ensure that they are always partly open except in extremely cold weather.
- If you have trickle fans don’t switch them off, they are designed to run quietly at low speed all the time.
- Don’t cover heaters or radiators with clothes, books or other items. Don’t block in heaters or radiators with furniture or personal belongings – ensure that air can flow around them so that they can work efficiently.
- Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes – open the doors regularly and avoid putting too many things in them as this stops the air circulating.
- Allow air to circulate in and around furniture. Leave spaces between furniture and the walls. If possible avoid positioning furniture alongside external walls.
- Don’t block permanent ventilators.
- Report broken heaters, radiators and extractor fans so that we can repair them.
- When condensation appears on surfaces such as windows and cills, wipe it away with a cloth, Wring the cloth out, don’t put it on a radiator to dry, this will just put the moisture back into the air.
- Don’t disturb loft insulation or store things in the loft that compress the insulation.
- The process of reducing condensation in the home may take several weeks; if you want to speed up the process then consider buying or hiring a dehumidifier.
- The best time to tackle mould is before it appears, even if you have no signs of mould, make sure you are following all the advice for condensation control.
- If mould does appear clean it immediately, a few black spots can be easily removed without creating a need to redecorate, if you leave it then it can develop into a more serious problem.
- You can remove mould by wiping down the affected surfaces with a proprietary fungicidal wash (make sure you read and follow the manufacturers instructions). If necessary, surfaces can be redecorated using an anti-mould or fungicidal paint which will prevent mould from reappearing.
- Any mildewed clothes should be dry cleaned. Mildewed carpets should be shampooed.
- Avoid brushing or vacuuming mould because this can spread mould spores and cause breathing problems.
If you have not seen obvious improvement after following our advice, or you suspect a more serious cause of damp, please contact us on 01492572727 and we will arrange for a surveyor to inspect.