Condensation is formed when warm, humid air comes into contact with a cold surface and can no longer hold as much moisture. The water vapour carried by the air is released and forms droplets of water on the surface. While the presence of the water itself is harmless, condensation can lead to severe problems. If it is not addressed, condensation can lead to damp patches forming that can lead to mould growth as well as damaging plaster and woodwork in your home.
Condensation is often thought of as a problem during the cooler months of the year, however as moisture in the air is always present, it can occur at any time.
Condensation in our homes is caused by the moisture levels in our indoor air. This moisture comes from a variety of different household sources. There are some occasions where this is obvious. When we cook or bathe, steam from hot water is clearly visible, but condensation is also released if you dry clothes indoors on radiators, and even through our breathing.
The most visible type of condensation in hour homes tends to be the droplets of water we see on our bedroom windows in the morning. We start to see this problem more regularly in the autumn. As the evenings begin to cool, most people stop leaving their windows open, and the cold surfaces, coupled with the moisture released from breathing in a bedroom with the doors closed will soon form droplets of water on the glass.
During the summer months, when there is less of a temperature difference between indoor and outdoor air, and when we are more likely to sleep with the windows open, the condensation is less likely to form as visibly on glass.
Most of the activity in our homes that releases moisture into the air happens throughout the year so some level of humidity is ever present. While we may not dry clothes indoors during the summer months, we still bathe and cook indoors, and this will still create humidity.
In truth, condensation during the warmer times of the year can be a bigger problem in your home because it can be more easily overlooked.
While we may see condensation on windows in cooler weather, during warmer periods, it will tend to form in the cool spots around our homes that are less visible. Exterior walls, in cupboards and behind furniture, where the air has time to linger tend to be the places where condensation hides.
Unlike windows, the cooler, hidden surfaces that tend to be where condensation forms in summer are porous. This means that the moisture can soak through from the surface and become a patch of damp where mould can grow. It is a good idea to leave a 2 inch (5cm) gap between furniture such as wardrobes and your exterior walls to prevent air from being trapped where damp can form.
There are some things that you can do immediately to reduce the amount of condensation that forms in your home. Using pan lids when cooking on the stove and ensuring that your extractor fans are running will help to reduce the amount of steam that is trapped in your kitchen.
Similarly, keeping bathroom and kitchen doors closed will prevent the higher levels of moisture escaping into the rest of your home.
Avoiding drying clothes indoors prevents a large amount of moisture from being released into the air, so make use of a washing line on dry days, and if you can, leave windows open to improve the airflow through your home and prevent stale pockets where condensation can lead to damp from being created.
These small steps will help to reduce the risk of condensation damp, but they will not prevent it totally.
In order to really address condensation, you need to improve the ventilation in your home so that humid air does not have the chance to come into prolonged contact with cold surfaces.
Modern kitchen and bathroom extractor fans recognise the levels of humidity in the air and automatically adjust their power levels to remove the moisture as quickly as possible. Whole house ventilation systems such as PIV (Positive Input Ventilation) are energy efficient solutions that draw in filtered air from outdoors and pump it gently throughout your home. These systems are ideal during the summer months where opening windows could lead to allergens such as pollen coming into your home and causing misery.
If you are worried about condensation and would like to talk to a local ventilation specialist, please contact EnviroVent today to book a free home survey. Our expert will visit you and assess the risk of damp in your home and advise you about the best way of removing condensation – the cause of most damp and mould problems for good.
One of our local experts will contact you to learn more about your problems, offer free expert advice and make recommendations for a permanent solution.
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