Condensation can seem inevitable and harmless but neither of these things are true. If allowed to build up, condensation can encourage mould growth – with all its attendant health risks; cause wood and other building materials to rot; and damage items made of delicate materials such as paper and fabric. Fortunately, even if your building is prone to condensation, it’s easy to manage by following 3 simple steps: reduce, ventilate and observe.
- Reduce condensation producing activities
Many human activities release water vapour into the air, and it’s this water vapour that turns into condensation in your home or office. So, we’re not going to suggest you stop breathing, even though it can quickly fog up a small space such as car. Instead, we recommend taking simple steps such as using lids when cooking; drying laundry outside where possible; and closing the door after showering. You can also reduce condensation by improving insulation since condensation is common where there’s a big difference in temperature between two sides of a surface and, is why single-glazed windows and poorly insulated walls are most likely to condensate, plus, is why car windows can fog up so quickly.
- Ventilate thoroughly
This second step is the most important to prevent condensation build up in your home or workplace. Automatic ventilation in the most at-risk areas (often kitchens and bathrooms) can be the most effective way to reduce condensation. Any ventilation which has been installed, from extractor fans to trickle vents, should be used and if you notice a condensation problem, it is worth investigating if further ventilation is required. If you don’t have control over the installation of new venting, simply opening the window can be effective. Opening the windows in your home or workplace for as little as 15 minutes a day can dramatically reduce the risk of problems due to condensation build up. This is because many modern buildings are so well sealed there are limited options for water vapour to escape other than through an open window.
Key areas to ventilate:
The bathroom is an obvious place to ventilate, but did you know that there are other major condensation culprits in your home? Washing machines, dishwashers and tumble driers all create moisture, as do cooking appliances such as stoves, kettles, microwaves and toasters. Heating can also increase condensation problems as warm air holds more moisture than cool air and people can be reluctant to properly air a property in winter for fear of letting the heat out. If ventilation isn’t possible, you may wish to consider a dehumidifier to collect atmospheric moisture.
- Observe – and act
The final step in managing condensation is to be observant. Don’t dismiss a damp smell or a patch that might be water damage or even mould. In most cases, if condensation problems are noticed early they can be resolved with little expense and trouble but if they are allowed to build up then damp and mould can develop and even threaten the structural integrity of the property, as well as causing health problems for the occupants. If you are a landlord, encourage your tenants to contact you if they spot any early signs of damp, condensation or mould for an immediate assessment of the likely cause.