For most homeowners, condensation is just a normal part of winter. After all, cold outside + warm inside + cold walls = condensation. And if it’s normal, it’s harmless, right? Well, maybe not. When it comes to condensation, it's useful to know how you can reduce condensation as well as how to know if it is a problem.
What causes condensation?
Air contains water vapour. When warm air meets a cold surface, that vapour turns to water droplets. Which is why you tend to see steamed up windows and, in some cases, wet walls which can lead to mould and potentially serious problems.
There are a few ways to reduce levels of condensation. The most basic thing you can do is improve ventilation. Have extractor fans on when cooking or using the shower or bath. Open doors and windows if necessary, to keep air circulating. Of course, in winter, this can be a problem: your condensation is a direct result of heating on inside and cold weather outside. You need to find the balance between letting the warm air out and reducing condensation.
If you notice water on windows and mirrors in the mornings or after showering or cooking, get into the habit of using a squeegee to get rid of most of the water before mopping up the remainder with a soft cloth (microfibre is absorbent enough for the job and leaves fewer smears than cotton cloths). Once you have got rid of surface water, a dehumidifier can help to reduce the levels of water in the air. You can get small dehumidifiers relatively cheaply, which can help in problem areas. Alternatively, damp traps can be useful in corners and cupboards.
You can help to prevent or reduce condensation with a few basic habit changes. Put lids on pans when you are cooking to prevent excess steam, and make sure that your home is evenly heated; keeping the heating constantly on a lower temperature will lead to less condensation than the temperature veering from hot to cold.
Long term solutions
If your condensation is severe and you are unable to get it under control, it may be worth calling in a specialist. A damp specialist will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action. If the problem is confirmed as severe condensation, they may recommend that you install an air vent in the problem room (usually, this will be a north-facing wall that gets little or no sunlight), or they may advise that you improve your insulation. Improved insulation will prevent the interior wall temperature from dropping below dew-point, which is the point at which water vapour turns to water droplets, thereby eliminating the problem altogether.
If left untreated, damp can become a serious problem. Don’t ignore it – get in touch with a local, trusted damp specialist to find out how you can protect your home and health. For more tips and advice, follow Trust A Trader on Facebook or Twitter.