Condensation

An Introduction to Condensation

Condensation is the result of evaporated water called water vapour (or moisture), coming into contact with a cold surface. Within our homes, condensation issues are accentuated because when we go about daily tasks like showering, cooking or drying clothes, water vapour is released into the air. 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 as well as recent changes in lifestyle and accommodation, condensation in buildings has started to 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 conservation of energy through double glazing or draught management. These home improvements give the water vapour fewer escape routes, forcing it to stay indoors and therefore increasing the humidity of the air, ultimately resulting in condensation.

Condensation usually becomes more noticeable during the winter months, 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.

Visible Signs of Condensation

  • Wet windows/window frames
  • Walls wet to touch
  • Musty smell
  • Black mould forming on walls
  • Mould damage to belongings

Why Should I Worry About Condensation?

Whilst a little water may seem like nothing to worry about, there are health problems that 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 material 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 an increased number of dust mites and therefore, greater risk of health concerns.

If black mould is already visible in your home, then it’s highly recommended that you start implementing condensation solutions as soon as possible.

What Makes Condensation Worse?

Along with cooking, showering and drying clothes, there are countless home fittings and appliances that 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 and alike, 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.

Condensation Solutions

One of the most difficult aspects of addressing condensation problems is locating the cause of the issue. The reason why this is so difficult is that the list of potential causes, many of which are lifestyle related, is quite long. Understandably, this is particularly frustrating for new homeowners who have just moved into a house that was free of issues, only to find that they are now being forced to look for condensation solutions. Most of the time these people are creating the issue through their own lifestyle and behaviours, but fortunately, lifestyle-centric issues are usually quick to fix.

For those causing increased humidity through showering, cooking or washing, consider investing in a humidistat fan. Humidistat fans moderate the humidity of a given room (particularly useful in bathrooms and kitchens) by detecting moisture in the air and only turning on when a certain humidity level is reached. This completely removes moisture problems at their source.

On occasion, condensation problems aren’t lifestyle based but are the result of structural factors. If specific walls are colder than others, consider the installation of thermally efficient wall linings to keep the walls warm. If the affected walls or ceilings aren’t colder than other surfaces in the house, your problem may instead 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. Leave larger breaks between morning showers, don’t use multiple kitchen and laundry appliances at the same time and avoid cooking without the use of an extractor fan. Often, these subtle lifestyle changes can make all the difference.

If you’re still having issues, contact one of our surveyors and we will be able to assess the scale and reach of your condensation problems through a detailed inspection. From here, we can advise you of the most appropriate condensation solution from the options above.

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