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It all becomes clear – managing condensation

19/01/22It all becomes clear – managing condensation

Homeowners often associate condensation build-up in houses as a problem for the winter, but this isn’t always the case. It’s true that winter does exacerbate the issue, but depending on the property’s age and condition, it’s something that can occur at any time of year.

Condensation is a common problem

Condensation, or moisture droplets that build up on surfaces, is a common problem in older properties and premises. It can particularly affect buildings used for storage, for example, or areas where there is a great deal of steam generated. Of course, it can become worse over the winter and especially during the Christmas period, in a household where there are people spending more time at home. This will also mean more people using the showers and bathing – a key trigger for condensation build-up – as well as washing and cooking.    

Condensation is easy to spot. You’ll notice water running down the windows and walls, as moisture condenses and cools on the walls and glass. If it happens on windows, in can cause damage to the paintwork and rot the timber, if it’s a wooden frame. It can also cause the rust of ironmongery and woodscrews. On walls and behind furniture, it can cause damp patches, pools on the floor and carpet, mildew and over time condensation can cause wallpaper and paint to peel. It’s often not just a surface problem and can cause damage within the walls too. The most common form of damp is caused by condensation and it is easily recognisable as its presence is indicated by black spot mould.  But when it comes to addressing the issues caused by condensation, there’s isn’t an overnight remedy, but a long-term strategy can be implemented.

Tackling the issue of condensation

The key to managing condensation is to have adequate ventilation, so that the warmer moisture-laden air has an escape route. This can be done in a number of ways. You must ensure that any UPVC windows that have vents are working. If they are damaged or missing, then have some fitted. Most windows can also be locked in the open position on a trickle setting, to improve air flow and this will rarely result in a draught for those inside. Another option is turning your heating thermostat down. Taking the air temperature down by a few degrees means that less water goes into suspension in the air, so there is less to condense when it hits the colder walls and windows. A good tip is to avoid running your heating system on an off/on timer cycle. In terms of managing condensation, it is much more effective to run the heating at a low temperature (for example, 15 degrees) constantly, and then turn it up as and when required.

Temperature control

Other aspects of your property also need taking into consideration. If you have ventilation bricks at your house, make sure that they are uncovered, and the holes are not clogged with leaves or soil. Remove draught excluders if they are hindering the airflow around the interior. If you have an extractor fan fitted in your kitchen and bathroom, make sure you use it to dissipate the steamy air. In a kitchen, try to remember to use saucepan lids when cooking too. If you have a tumble drier in your kitchen or utility room, ensure the extraction pipe is vented out through a window or door. If you can, before taking a bath or shower try to warm the room up first, to reduce the difference in air temperature. And it’s always a good idea to dry clothes outside, as inside drying can make the air in rooms over-saturated and damp. You can also ventilate wardrobes, or use clothes rails instead, to allow good airflow around clothes, as stagnant pockets of air will encourage mildew.

If condensation is very problematic, especially in older properties, then it may be necessary to look at insulation and double glazing. This will be costly and can sometimes actually worsen the problem, particularly in older buildings, if it becomes so super-insulated and airtight that it can no longer breathe. If you think your property is experiencing issues caused by condensation and dampness, then get in touch with one of our building surveyor experts, who will be happy to give you some advice on the options available.

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