What is condensation?
Condensation happens in every home and shouldn’t be a problem unless it’s allowed to build up. In simple terms, it occurs when warm moist air comes in contact with a cold surface. As the air cools it is unable to hold the same amount of moisture, releasing it onto the surface. It can happen in summer but is more common in the winter. This is because people want to heat their homes and keep windows shut resulting in reduced ventilation.
What can condensation cause?
Condensation can cause damage to your property. Its seen in damp patches on walls, peeling wallpaper and mould. It’s most common behind furniture where there is limited airflow. Its also seen in and around window reveals and in wardrobes. This can result in mould and mildew on fabrics with a lack of air circulation. If you find mould, don’t ignore it and try to get rid of it as soon as possible. It will continue to develop with the right conditions releasing more spores into the atmosphere. If left alone, condensation and damp can also cause health conditions. It can cause allergic reactions and, if you already suffer a respiratory disorder, can affect your wellbeing.
How can I prevent condensation?
Here are our 10 ways to stop condensation in its tracks.
- Be vigilant about your door and window seals. Check for any damage that will encourage moisture to get inside and rectify accordingly.
- Dry your clothes outside where possible. This minimises the amount of moisture realised into the air when inside. If clothes can’t dry externally then put them in the bathroom with the door closed and the extractor working.
- When showering or cooking in the kitchen, close the doors to prevent the moisture escaping from the room. The warm moist air will simply circulate through your property and look for the next cooler place to land. This then has the potential to develop into condensation and mould.
- Where they are fitted, extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom are ideal for clearing the room and reducing condensation. Any extraction units should be regularly checked for cleanliness that could impair their operation. And an extractor working close to a window will impair the extractor operation such that consideration should be given to closing the window when the extractor is working. In addition, as recommended by Part F of the Building Regs, the consideration is to ensure there is a minimum 10mm gap under the bathroom door such that, when the extractor is working, it will draw ‘make-up’ air from the rest of the property via the undercut and will expel the moist air circulated out through the extractor. One way to check this is to operate the extractor and then open the bathroom door. If the sound of the extractor changes, then it is likely the extractor’s capability is limited. Like putting an extractor on a closed box – it can’t draw air out unless there is a cross-flow.
Of equal importance is to consider an overrun for the extractor unit after the room has been vacated. It should ideally continue to draw moist air out for approximately 15 minutes for a bathroom once the light is off and doors closed.
- Use a dry cloth to wipe down any walls and surfaces that get damp. This will prevent the moisture from penetrating the surface.
- When siting furniture, try and ensure it’s not pushed right up against the wall. This will restrict the air circulation behind it. Remember, finding mould behind a wardrobe doesn’t mean there’s a problem with the wall. One small outbreak of mould in the bathroom or kitchen can travel through an open door on the air currents and find the next prime location to reside. This being a cooler location with minimal warm air circulation.
- When cooking, place lids over the top of pots to trap the moisture inside. Always ensure the windows are open when draining. To expel moist air, use your oven extractor hood. However, ensure the hood is an extractor unit and not just a filter for cooking odours. Small considerations like this can make a big difference.
- A balance of heat and ventilation throughout the year is important for any building. Consider having your heating system on all year round at home. If set to the right temperature, it will only operate when it breaches that setting. Your structure will then adopt a warmer feeling. Having the heating on twice a day will heat the air but won’t actually warm the structure. Hence, when returning to a house in the winter, it can feel very cold.