Condensation is the result of great variations in the two major types of atmospheric conditions – temperature and humidity.
We’re all familiar with the way windows steam up when we first enter a cold vehicle or a cold room.
Often, this is considered nothing more than a nuisance, and we mop up the water and carry on as normal.
But if your home is regularly affected by condensation, it can eventually cause the structures around which it forms – window frames and ledges and adjoining walls, for example – to be affected by the spread of the damp.
Eventually, this excess water will soak into walls, window and door frames – and this can spell trouble for the wallpaper, paint, plaster and soon enough, the material of the fixtures themselves.
So if you spot any signs of damage caused by condensation, or you have any spots in your home which are prone to seeing it accumulate, you need to get them treated before the damage becomes more widespread and costly to put right.
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Causes of Condensation
Condensation doesn’t have any preference for what types of building, or material, it attacks.
But there is a combination of conditions that make it more likely to develop, and if those conditions become common, it can then become a regular problem, which is when you are likely to start seeing signs that you need to take action to stop it.
The build-up of condensation on any surface happens as a result of two factors: temperature and humidity.
The temperature on the outside of a building is something we can do little about. But when the temperature inside any building is so much higher than that on the outside, that creates humidity. That is, it increases the amount of water vapour in the air.
And when the humidity inside a building becomes much greater than that outside it, moisture in the air turns into vapour very readily.
Then, when more vapour is created than the air inside a room can hold, the relative humidity in that room will be so much higher than that outside it. This will cause the vapourised water to cling to any solid surface.
If that surface is much colder than the air inside it, the vapour will turn back to water when it has reached a certain temperature – known as the dew point – and that is when condensation forms.
Busier rooms are more prone to condensation, because people’s breath and perspiration create water vapour. We’ve all seen what happens in a school classroom on a winter’s day when the children come in from their break outside – that sudden activity creates masses of water vapour and, with nowhere for it to escape to, it gathers on the coldest surfaces in the room, which is usually the windows.
Reducing the Humidity
Keep bathroom and kitchen doors closed when they are not in use
Dry clothes outdoors and use a vent when using a tumble dryer
Try not to use heating systems that produce water vapour
Try not to use heating that produces water vapour such as bottled gas
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Removing the humid air
When in kitchen or bathroom open a window or use an extractor fan
Keep windows open and air circulating
Keep large furniture away from the exterior walls
Check any blocked up chimneys, making sure there is enough ventilation
Make sure any cellars and sub floor areas well ventilated
Think about using a dehumidifier where excessive problems are
Keeping the moisture in the air
Do not allow any room to stay cold for long periods
Make sure your home is well insulated
Typically cold walls can be lined with an insulating material
Cavity wall insulation can be expensive, but will give better condensation prevention
Seal any gaps between floor boards or lay thick underlay
Lagging pipes with foam tubes or wrapping them will help prevent condensation on pipes
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Effective Condensation Remedies
The most effective way to ensure that your home doesn’t suffer from condensation is to insulate it evenly throughout.
But in combination with this, you should also ensure that, whenever possible, you also keep it well ventilated.
You might also consider using a dehumidifier in the worst-affected rooms – you might be surprised how much water one of these can collect!
Speak to us at Watertight Homes today to find out how we can help cure your condensation problems.
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Condensation Treatment FAQs
Because warm air can hold far more moisture than cold air, that moisture tends to hang around, unseen, inside a property where the temperature is much warmer than it is outside.
Condensation occurs when that warm air, circulating around your rooms, comes into contact with any colder surface. And because our windows are a major source of heat escaping from our homes, they attract a lot of that warm air.
The problem is that older, or poorly insulated windows, and even walls when they get cold enough, are a magnet for the water droplets in all that cold air. So once that warm air hits the much colder surface, the moisture turns into condensation.
There are also certain rooms, such as your kitchen, in which more moisture is naturally created, by activities such as boiling pans, and washing and drying clothes. Your bathroom is the next worst culprit, so you need to pay particular attention to keeping these rooms properly ventilated.
Condensation won’t disappear on its own. And while you can wipe it away, that’s unlikely to get rid of it completely.
In some ways, though, it can be a small blessing, as it indicates where the insulation in your property is weakest, and so should be improved.
If you don’t stay on top of areas where condensation is forming, by keeping them warm enough to regularly dry out, the water will soon look for even the tiniest cracks in the surface on which it has settled – which could be a wall, skirting board, window frame or any other hard or absorbent surface – and will start to seep into it.
Once this water comes into contact with other organisms living on any surface – hard or soft – it will start a chemical reaction, which is how mould starts to form.
So you then have a twin problem to deal with – the areas which are getting damp from the lingering moisture, and the mould which loves warm, humid conditions, and so quickly startstarts to multiply.
This type of mould is known as black spot mould (Aspergillus Niger), after the ugly spots which are caused when the water has found a home among the materials in your house, and has caused a chemical reaction with them.
You can limit condensation forming on surfaces inside your home by keeping it – and them – warm and well ventilated.
But no home can be made completely condensation-proof, because nature and humans will always create the kinds of conditions – cold air and warm surfaces – which make it easy for the moisture in the air to turn to water.
Once you have instances of condensation damage, keeping the worst affected areas as dry and well ventilated as possible is your main solution. We can fit a complete home ventilation system in your property, or can add extra vents.
If you have spotted any of the signs detailed above, get in touch with us at Watertighthomes straight away, and we will arrange for a member of our survey team to visit you and prepare a report showing how we can improve the ventilation in your home.