As damp and timber specialists, we receive a lot of enquiries about condensation in properties. While we don’t provide a service to fix condensation issues, we’re well-equipped to offer advice on how to prevent and remedy the presence of condensation in the home, as detailed below.
Condensation is the result of evaporated water, called water vapour (or moisture), coming into contact with a cold surface. In our homes, condensation issues are accentuated because water vapour is released into the air when we go about daily tasks like showering, cooking or drying clothes. As more water vapour enters the air, it becomes increasingly saturated with moisture until it can no longer hold any more. This is when condensation occurs, as the excess water vapour meets cold surfaces and rapidly cools into dew-like droplets.
With the advent of modern technology, various efficiency-related scientific studies, and recent changes in lifestyle and accommodation, condensation in buildings has become a more prominent issue in everyday life. Common domestic fixes have become the leading cause of many condensation problems, primarily changes to building design and energy conservation through double glazing or draught management. These home improvements give the water vapour fewer escape routes, forcing it to stay indoors and increasing the air’s humidity, ultimately resulting in condensation.
Condensation usually becomes more noticeable during winter, primarily because we turn the heating on and close all the windows. This causes the air to heat up with nowhere for the warm water vapour to escape, leading to an overall humidity increase. However, if you do notice visible signs in your home, there are still a variety of condensation solutions you can use to fix the problem.
Whilst a little water may seem like nothing to worry about, health problems can affect your household if condensation is left unaddressed. These health issues can be caused by black mould that thrives in damp environments and begins to grow on your wet walls, ceilings, and window frames. The mould can cause sinus and breathing problems, skin rashes and, in particularly bad cases, even bronchitis.
On top of the mould, condensation can also affect the dust mite population within your home. Dust mites are common household micro-organisms that eat the variety of materials found in dust. Studies have shown that they are also significant contributors to triggering asthma and flaring eczema. Unfortunately, dust mites thrive in moist conditions, so allowing condensation to run rampant in your home can lead to increased dust mites and, therefore, a greater risk of health concerns.
If black mould is already visible in your home, it’s highly recommended that you implement condensation solutions as soon as possible.
Along with cooking, showering and drying clothes, countless home fittings and appliances release moisture into the air and contribute to condensation problems. These include tumble dryers, washing machines, dishwashers, and kettles.
In addition, if properties are sealed from the outside via double glazing, cavity/loft insulation, chimney sealing, etc., then moisture has even fewer escape routes and is forced to remain inside. This allows for a much easier build-up of moisture in the air and, therefore, increased condensation.
With the correct ventilation, none of these appliances or home improvements will lead to condensation, but without effective airing systems in place, you may well start to see problems.
One of the most challenging aspects of addressing condensation problems is locating the cause of the issue. This is difficult because the list of potential reasons, many of which are lifestyle related, is quite long. Understandably, this is particularly frustrating for new homeowners who have just moved into a house free of issues, only to find that they are now being forced to look for condensation solutions. These people often create the problem throughT their lifestyle and behaviours, but fortunately, lifestyle-centric issues are usually quick to fix.
Consider investing in a humidistat fan for those causing increased humidity through showering, cooking, or washing. Humidistat fans moderate the humidity of a given room (particularly useful in bathrooms and kitchens) by detecting moisture in the air and only turning it on when a specific humidity level is reached. This completely removes moisture problems at their source.
On occasion, condensation problems aren’t lifestyle-based but result from structural factors. For example, if specific walls are colder than others, consider the installation of thermally efficient wall linings to keep the walls warm. On the other hand, if the affected walls or ceilings aren’t colder than other surfaces in the house, your problem may be caused by poor ventilation. In this situation, you can improve airflow through vent installation in the ceiling, walls, or above windows.
Other less common condensation solutions are devices called positive pressure condensation control units. These take drier air from the loft spaces and mix it with the air below, reducing overall humidity at a very low rate so as not to cause drastic changes in the internal atmosphere.
Whatever your problem, the best cause of action is always prevention. If you can, try to stagger your moisture-creating activities, allowing moisture to escape naturally before adding to the water vapour in the air. For example, leave more significant breaks between morning showers, don’t use multiple kitchen and laundry appliances simultaneously and avoid cooking without using an extractor fan. Often, these subtle lifestyle changes can make all the difference.