Condensation Control Tips and FAQ
Condensation is caused by high moisture content in the air condensing on cold surfaces. High moisture in the air can be caused from lots of things such as running a bath, drying your clothes or even just breathing.
This moisture build-up can occur in any type of property, whether that be a flat, apartment or house – new or old. The amount of moisture in the air at a given temperature is called relative humidity. When relative humidity is excessive and the air in your property cools, the moisture will start to condense and settle on cold surfaces.
Condensation problems are more common than ever thanks to the change and improvements in standards of living which have made properties more airtight. Insulation, double glazing and draught proofing result in properties suffering from poor air ventilation and trapped moisture.
The main reason condensation should be controlled and prevented is that without regular ventilation, it may create an unhealthy living environment where black mould can grow. If you’re someone who looks after the interior of your home, condensation can be extremely distressing as it may affect your decor, damage fabric and furniture and cause a bad smell.
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What Is black mould?
The growth of black mould is something every property owner should try to avoid. This blanket term is the generic name used to describe the Stachybotrys Chartarum, a species of mould. It can spread easily as it germinates in properties that have a condensation problem. Mould will only grow on condensed water and will not grow directly on other forms of damp such as rising or penetrating damp.
Black mould is instantly recognisable and can spread through materials such as paint, wallpaper and plaster. It can severely affect clothes and furnishings and cause damage to the fabric of a home. Black mould growth can also leave a lingering damp smell and can potentially aggravate existing respiratory conditions amongst children and elderly people.
Is condensation a seasonal problem?
Condensation can be described as a seasonal problem. Issues often arise during the winter months when temperatures are colder. In some cases, condensation problems can disappear during the summer. In the very worst cases of excessive moisture, condensation can occur all year.
The main reason why condensation is more problematic during winter is because ventilation is low at this time of year. When it’s cold outside, it’s unlikely that we’re going to leave windows and doors open. After some time, this creates a build-up of moisture vapour.
How can I stop condensation?
Over the years, building standards have improved greatly and properties are becoming airtight with less draughts. If you live in a property that’s at risk of condensation problems, our team can help you ensure that the air inside your home is being refreshed and circulated efficiently.
Proper ventilation reduces high relative humidity in your home to normal levels. Making sure that the air inside your home doesn’t have excessive moisture content will improve your chances of condensation removal.
You should aim to normalise levels of relative humidity (RH) to between 40% and 60% air moisture content. This can be achieved through proper heating, insulation and ventilation. It’s also important to ensure that those living in the property aren’t creating excessive moisture such as forgetting to use the extractor fan when cooking or bathing or drying clothes without opening a window.
What can be done to reduce condensation levels in a property?
Did you know that from drying just one load of washing, two litres of water are emitted into the air? One way to reduce RH levels is to ensure that tumble dryers are vented correctly and that radiator drying is kept to a minimum.
It’s recommended that you dry clothes outdoors if possible. This prevents excess moisture escaping into the air of your property. If you do need to dry your clothes inside, try to open a window or door.
There are little things you can do every day to reduce moisture levels in your property. When you’re cooking, making a cup of tea or running the shower or bath, make sure the doors of these rooms are kept closed. This will prevent steam escaping into colder rooms and condensation forming.
Another step you can take when cooking is to cover pans with a lid as this will reduce the amount of moisture escaping into the air. It’s also advisable to have a window open when you’re cooking, or if your home has an extractor fan, to turn it on.
Don’t turn the extractor fan off or close the window as soon as you finish cooking – try to leave them open/on for around 15-20 minutes afterwards. This will clear the air inside the room.
The method above should also be applied when you’re running the shower or taps in your bathroom. This will remove the high moisture created from the warm water in a cold room.
If your home is at risk of suffering from condensation and you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen, it’s advised that you always wipe down your kitchen or bathroom surfaces. Excess condensation moisture that sits on surfaces can quickly cause mould growth.
If you’re using portable gas bottles or paraffin heaters inside your home, you may be producing a lot of moisture that you’re unaware of. For every litre of gas or paraffin burned, you’re creating one litre of moisture into the atmosphere. Portable gas and paraffin heaters also create fumes that affect the air quality of your home. This form of heating should not be used where possible.
Did you know that your pets and plants could be a factor in causing condensation? One way to stop short-term condensation problems is to cover fish tanks and remove plants from the inside of your home when watering them.
It’s also advised to keep furniture at least 100mm away from your walls. This gives the air in your property space to circulate around the room and get between your furniture and the wall.
Make sure that if you use one room more than others that you open a window regularly. This may seem like a small step but it will improve the ventilation in the room.
What is condensation paint and does it work?
Over the past few years, anti-condensation paint has become popular with homeowners. The paint slightly insulates the wall, improves the surface temperature and can also contain a fungicide to stop mould growth germinating.
Many of our customers use this type of paint to cover the walls of basements, attics, garages, sheds and entry points of the homes. Often they have no success however due to the high moisture content in the air. This type of paint can be used in areas where there is minor condensation that forms on walls but it won’t solve significant issues.