By EnviroVent Oct 10, 2014
Condensation is caused by a build up of excess moisture that has nowhere to escape so forms on walls and ceilings. It is most prominent during the colder winter months as we want to retain any heat and not open any windows, especially at night but can still affect houses in the summer.
Damp can cause mould on walls and furniture and cause wooden window frames to rot. It's also unhealthy. Some damp is caused by condensation. Condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with a colder surface like a wall, window, mirror etc. The air can't hold the moisture and tiny drops of water appear.
Condensation can cause structural damage to your property including wallpaper to peel away, damp patches to appear on walls and streaming windows that can become damaged.
Interior window condensation is caused by excessive moisture in the house, and it often occurs in the winter when the warm air inside the house condenses on the cold windows. However should this stilloccur with double gazing? Can you get condensation on double glazed windows?
While condensation can be worse on single glazed windows (due to the internal surface of the window being much colder than the internal surface of a double glazed window) replacing single glazed windows with double glazing is not enough to eliminate the problem. The reason being is that although the inside of your new windows will be warmer, they will simultaneously eliminate draughts. This will reduce ventilation, and contribute to the build-up of moisture.
Could the double glazing be faulty?
On older or poorer quality units, the sealant used to create the seal (around the windows) may be of a low grade or become loose over time. If the seal and bead that’s supposed to hold the glass in the frame deteriorates, moisture and water can get into the frame. Allowing large amounts of water to settle in the frame like this for a long period of time will eventually affect the ‘air gap’ seal surrounding the two panes of glass.
Sometimes, the uPVC frames themselves will crack and allow water to gather. Another reason why you may see condensation in double glazing is because of a fault with the ‘spacer’ bar. Most double-glazed windows now feature a ‘spacer’ in between the two panes of glass and this is full of desiccant, a highly-absorptive material which sucks up any moisture in the ‘air gap’ void.
Have you heard about interstitial condensation?
Interstitial condensation creates structural damping that occurs when moist air penetrates inside the hidden space within an enclosed wall, roof or floor cavity structure. When that moisture laden air reaches a layer inside the interstitial structure that is at dew point temperature, it will condense into liquid water.
The moisture laden air can penetrate into hidden interstitial wall cavity from the exterior in warm outdoor temperatures and inside the building during cold outdoor temperatures. The resulting structural damage, along with mould and bacteria growth may occur without any visible surface indications until significant damage or extensive mould and bacteria growth has occurred.
A key condensation culprit are windows, condensation around windows can be hard to keep on top of especially when raining as rain will inevitably leave water marks on windows. The best way to keep on top of condensation around windows is to be on the look out for any damage to the sealant around the windows as this will allow water in. Try to wipe down window sills to ensure no excess moisture enters your property's air and open windows as often as possible to allow air to circulate.
The problem with heating some rooms and not others is that the warm air in the heated rooms will absorb water vapour, and then migrate throughout the house. When it meets the cold glass of your bedroom windows, the air becomes unable to hold so much moisture, which condenses.
Rooms like kitchens and bathrooms are optimum environments for condensation, as bathrooms are usually wet, damp and moist. Showering and bathing inevitably cause water droplets to form on walls and windows and if not properly ventilated and dried quickly, linger and cause excess moisture to form. The warmth from the steam also keeps the condensation, which you can mostly see on bathroom windows. It is very difficult to keep on top of condensation in bathrooms as the biggest prevention is ventilation which is something that can be hard to create and maintain in bathrooms and kitchens.
Condensation on bedroom windows maybe noticed last, especially if it is a room not used very often. Signs to look out for with condensation around bedroom windows are; water on the window sill, damage to window frames and it is also important that you don't ignore black mould on soft furnishings like curtains or cushions.
If left untreated condensation can lead to mould growth which can be potentially harmful and lead to serious health issues and breathing difficulties which is why it is important to reduce humidity levels in a property.
If you find a colony of toxic mould, it is very important that you do not disturb it. Touching or moving the mould can cause an enormous amount of harmful spores to be released in the air, to the detriment of you and the people you share your home with.
For other, more common strains of mould, there is a wide variety of mould treatments available that clean the mould, which are easy to use on your own.
A simple solution for removing non-toxic mould from your home is to clean it using a non-toxic, mould cleaning solution. When the mould has been eradicated, it is important to dry the surface thoroughly, in order to prevent the mould from returning.
Another simple yet short-term solution is to kill the mould and nasty marks on your walls with bleach. If you do wish to try this tactic remember to wear thick clothes (you don't mind getting ruined), rubber gloves and a face guard as both the mould and bleach fumes can be dangerous to inhale. To clean mould off your walls, follow these steps -
- Simply mix one part bleach to four parts water.
- Using a damp cloth gently scrub until the mould is gone.
- Once finished, dry the area well with a soft cloth.
Remember however, this is not a long term solution and you really need to tackle the cause of the mould to ensure it doesn't come back.
Tackling the issue of condensation
The reason condensation appears in your property is due to a lack of adequate ventilation which causes humidity levels to rise. As we spend more time indoors and make our property more energy efficient the build up of moisture and humidity levels increase.
In fact, four people living in a 3 bedroom property would create 112 pints of moisture a week from just breathing, cooking, showering and boiling the kettle.
So how can you reduce the condensation in your property?
If you constantly have to wipe condensation off your windows and have a dehumidifier running for lengthy periods of time (costing you money) then you may want to think about having a whole house ventilation system installed as a permanent solution to condensation and to improve the air quality indoors for your tenants or family.
18 Quick Tips To Reduce Condensation In Your Home
If you are looking for a short term fix rather than a permanent solution then here are our quick cures to condensation by tackling additional moisture and humidity entering the property:
1. Ensure Washing Machine Is Correctly Vented
If you have a washing machine or tumble dryer in your property, ensure that it is vented correctly. From just one load of washing two litres of water is emitted into the air.
2. Dry Clothes Outdoors
Where possible, try to dry your clothes outdoors to prevent excess moisture from building up in your property. If you are unable to dry your clothes outdoor then keep them in a bathroom with the door closed and windows open until the clothes are fully dry.
3. Close Kitchen & Bathroom Doors
When cooking food, boiling the kettle or taking a shower, ensure that your kitchen or bathroom door is kept closed to prevent the moisture in the air from going into colder rooms which will cause condensation to form if it touches a cold surface.
4. Use Pan Lids When Cooking
When cooking ensure that you cover your pans with a lid to reduce moisture being created from the water boiling. Also, ensure you are using an extractor hood if you have one above the cooker or an extractor fan if you have one installed, these are designed to help reduce moisture created when cooking.
Remember, don’t turn off your extractor fan as soon as you finish cooking as the moisture can still be in the air even when you have finished, instead leave it on afterwards for 10-15 minutes to help to clear the humid air. Another option is to purchase an extractor fan with intelligent humidity sensors which speed up when you start boiling water and slow down once humidity levels have returned to normal.
5. Turn On Extractor Fan When Taking A Shower
Similar to when cooking in the kitchen, when you are taking a shower or having a bath ensure that you turn on your extractor fan to remove the steam and moisture that is created when running warm water in a cold environment. This will help reduce the amount of condensation that appears on your bathroom windows and walls.
6. Stop Using Portable Gas & Paraffin Heaters
Portable gas bottles and paraffin heaters produce a lot of moisture, along with a lot of toxic fumes. Not only is this form of heat causing excess condensation in your property, it is also a health and safety hazard which is stated in most tenancy agreements as not allowed in rented flats.
7. Cover Up Fish Tanks & Aquariums
Many families have house pets and plants which produce a lot of moisture. Make sure you cover up your aquarium or fish tanks to prevent excess moisture. If damp patches start to appear on your walls or you start to notice more surface condensation on your windows and walls near to your house plants then look to move them outdoors.
8. Wipe Down Cold Surfaces
If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen then make sure that you wipe down any cold surfaces when you have been cooking or taking a shower to remove any moisture that may have settled on the surface. This excess moisture in the air sits on the surface and will quickly turn to mould if left untreated.
9. Don't Overfill Wardrobes & Cupboards
Do not overfill your wardrobes or kitchen cupboards. A lack of ventilation and air moisture trapped in warm overfilled cupboards can become a breeding ground for mould as the air is not able to circulate freely inside. You might notice a musty smell or clothes might have a damp feeling to them which is a sure sign that the cupboard is overfilled.
10. Move Furniture Away From External Walls
For the same reason as above, make sure that your furniture is at least 50mm away from the surrounding walls so that air can circulate around the property. Try to ensure that your wardrobes are placed against internal walls in your bedroom which will be less cold than external walls and less likely to cause damp and mould problems.
11. Ensure Your Property Has Adequate Heating
Ensuring an adequate amount of heating in your property will improve the internal temperature of surfaces in the house and reduce the likelihood of condensation. Also, make sure your home is energy efficient by ensuring you have insulated walls and double glazed windows installed so the heat doesn't escape from the property.
12. Open Windows When Weather Outside Is Warmer
If you use a room on a regular basis, such as a living room and the weather is not cold outside, open a window slightly to improve the ventilation in the room. Breathing is a major cause of condensation so this will help to improve the ventilation in your property.
13. Install Double Glazing, Loft & Wall Insulation
Double glazing, loft insulation and draft proofing will help to reduce the amount of heat that is lost from a property. Installing insulation will help to keep the temperature of the surfaces inside your property at a higher level.
14. Install An Extractor Fan
Adequate ventilation is essential to allow the moisture to escape from a property before it turns into condensation. Installing an energy-efficient extractor fan in the kitchen and bathroom can improve the humidity levels and prevent condensation.
An alternative approach would be to have a whole house ventilation system installed in your home, ATMOS® can provide a condensation-free environment and can help reduce the moisture levels throughout your home.
Here are some additional tips that will help cure your condensation woes:
15. Check the windows
Over time the sealant around your windows may become damaged and start to allow rain to seep into your home. The water entering the property will cause an excess in the moisture levels resulting in condensation.
16. Monitor the moisture
Condensation is the result of excess moisture and is something that can sneak up on us, by investing in a moisture meter you can keep track of these levels before it's too late.
17. Check the exterior for any damage
Have a good inspection of the exterior of your property, look for cracks and any damage that could be letting water in.
18. Use bath mats
Make sure you have a decent size batch mat for your bathroom to avoid saturating bathroom floors when getting a bath or shower.
To properly cure your home of condensation you need to ensure you are preventing the condensation from ever occurring in the first place. If you are suffering from condensation problems then we may be able to help you. We have over 30 years experience in the industry and work across the whole of the UK to solve condensation and mould problems. We have local ventilation experts available, who can carry out a detailed survey and create a report which will tell you exactly what is causing the problem and how to rectify it.
If you are not sure if the problem is condensation or whether it could be rising damp or due to a leak from the roof or guttering then get in touch to arrange a free home survey and a local ventilation expert will contact you to arrange a suitable time to check whether the problem in your home is due to condensation.
To book your free home survey click here.