Seeing a patch of damp appear on a wall can be an alarming sight for homeowners. Damp can cause major damage to the fabric of a building including causing plaster to crumble and wood to rot and can also provide the ideal environment for mould to grow. One of the most common causes of damp in a domestic setting is the build up of condensation on walls, and to prevent damp from becoming established and creating major problems it is vital to address the condensation that causes it in the first place.
The condensation that soaks into porous surfaces such as plaster walls originates inside our homes. Any activity that releases water vapour or steam contributes to the amount of moisture in the air, and when this moist air encounters a cold surface, the water is released in the form of condensation.
Many activities in our home cause moisture to be released into the air. From taking a shower or bath to drying clothes on a radiator, to cooking on the hob. Even breathing releases some water vapour. In fact according to a Canadian study, an average person will release about two litres of water into the air, with about 60% coming from respiration.
At a given temperature air can hold a certain amount of water vapour. This is known as relative humidity. At normal room temperature – about 20C, a cubic metre of air can hold approximately 17g of water. If the temperature falls to 10C as it does at night when domestic heating is turned off, the same cubic metre of air can hold just over 9g of water. In a small room of 3x3m, this change in temperature would release approximately a glass of water (160ml) from the air which will form as condensation on cool surfaces.
To reduce the amount of condensation in your home and prevent damp, there are several things that you can do. Simple changes to your behaviour such as putting cold water into the bath before filling with hot, ensuring that you use lids on pans when cooking, and drying clothes outdoors will all reduce the amount of water vapour that is released.
Improving ventilation in your home gives moisture the ability to escape before it forms as condensation and leads to damp. Opening windows to allow fresh air to replace the humid air helps to keep moisture levels low, but this isn’t practical in cold weather, and the only truly effective way of preventing condensation becoming a damp problem all year round is to ensure that you have extractor fans to remove the moist air from bathrooms and kitchens to prevent it spreading into the rest of your home.
Modern extractor fans such as the EnviroVent Cyclone 7 feature sensors that detect the amount of water vapour in the air and adjust their power levels accordingly. This makes them highly efficient because they do not need to run for as long as a less effective fan.
By reducing the amount of moisture in the air, you stop condensation from forming, and in turn, this removes a source of damp.
If you have discovered a damp patch in your home, and condensation is to blame, it is important to act quickly to stop the problem getting worse. Contact us today to book your free home survey. Our local ventilation specialists can visit your home to identify the causes of condensation and provide advice about the best ways to deal with it. Simply fill in your postcode below to find a local expert who can help you.
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