Most of us have experienced condensation in our property at some point in time, most likely during the deep winter months. In fact, one in five UK homes suffer from it. The cold weather brings our attention to damp problems hiding in our homes, resulting in streaming windows and all number of debilitating problems, including damp and mould. The problem will come back to haunt you time and time again unless it is dealt with professionally. If you think you might have a condensation issue in your home, keep reading for everything you need to know about how to treat and prevent it.
Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with a surface of a lower temperature (or air of a lower temperature). When the two different temperatures clash, the warm air loses its ability to hold moisture. This results in water vapour suspended in the air and the appearance of water on the surface.
Culprits include common everyday activities like cooking, drying clothes on radiators and washing up. You can also help keep condensation at bay by heating your home on low all day during periods of cold weather.
This is the most familiar type of condensation, taking the form of water on window panes, cold wall surfaces and tiles.
This occurs when warm, moisture-heavy air comes into contact with surfaces at or below its dew point. This occurs at the base of external walls – where it is often mistaken for rising damp – on windows, where it may cause cills to rot, and on the underside of the roof.
This occurs when warm, damp air gets into a cold house. This happens in the winter, when a ‘warm front’ from the Atlantic arrives, and is common in unoccupied houses.
This happens when warm, moist air diffuses into a vapour-permeable material, such as fibrous insulation. If this material is warm on one side and cold on the other, the moisture will be deposited in liquid form within the material. This is a particular problem in heavily insulated or air-conditioned homes.
This is also called “Summer condensation”. If rains drenches a wall and strong sunlight then dries it, the heat can actually force water vapour into the wall. When it then meets an insulated surface, it forms condensation at that barrier.
This is sometimes called “clear night condensation“. If there is a sudden temperature drop at night, it can cause condensation on the underside of roof coverings, for example: often this drips onto the insulation quilting and causes a distinctive mottled effect upon the quilting (and discolouration).
Condensation forms on any surface, but is easier to detect on non-absorbent surfaces like windows and bathroom tiles. Other common signs of visible condensation include water, frost or ice on doors, frames and ceilings. But condensation can also be absorbed by household items and soft furnishings. If your bedroom windows are covered in condensation every morning, your upholstery, bed covers and clothes probably are too!
The short answer is inadequate ventilation. Think about this: the average person breathes in and out around 17,000 times per day. If your home is sealed up, you can only imagine what kinds of pollutants fester in the air. Condensation affects all types of properties including new builds, period properties and bungalows.
We spend lots more time indoors during the winter months. Most of us use more energy on daily activities like using the tumble dryer or boiling the kettle at this time of year too, so moisture and humidity levels increase.
Homeowners and occupants can experience all number of health problems and ailments as a result of breathing in water vapour. Because of their weak immune systems, babies and elderly people are of particular cause for concern, as are people with allergies or existing respiratory problems like asthma.
Condensation can cause a number of issues to your home if left untreated over a long period of time. Damp patches on the walls, peeling wallpaper and black mould on the ceiling are all strong indicators of a serious condensation issue.
The best way to keep condensation at bay is to make sure your home is adequately ventilated. This can mean ventilating excess moisture to the outside of your property and circulating your home with fresh air. That doesn't mean you have to sit there with the windows wide open in the midst of winter! EnviroVent offers whole house ventilation services plus a huge range of ventilation products to ensure fresh, filtered air 24/7. Products like condensation control units reduce humidity levels and diminish damp in an instant. You can also buy products to remove mould and manage damp damage.
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