We’re nearing the end of the dreaded condensation season that can cause chaos for homeowners who are unprepared for it. From October to March the temperature drops significantly causing a build-up of moisture that leads to greater amounts of condensation.
What is Condensation?
Condensation is caused when water vapour comes into contact with other surfaces – this causes the water vapour to condense from a gas into a liquid. Effectively condensation is the reverse of evaporation and while there are many measures you can take to stop condensation problems in your home, it can be difficult to control your home’s water vapour levels, so problems may arise despite your best efforts.
You’ll never stop condensation completely, however, you can control it and prevent it from doing any lasting harm to your home. To help you combat condensation, we’ve compiled a list of helpful advice that will aid you in controlling the amount of water vapour in your home.
- Partly filling your bath with cold water before adding hot water will reduce the amount of steam.
- Avoid drying clothes indoors when you can. If you must dry them indoors using a radiator or tumble dryer, make sure there is some outdoor ventilation like an open window.
- Windows are commonly affected by condensation – make sure your windows are regularly cleaned if you see moisture forming on them.
- Rooms like kitchens and bathrooms, where water is regularly used, need to be kept closed to prevent water vapour from spreading to other rooms in your home.
- Keep cupboards and cabinets well ventilated so air can circulate more freely – this is particularly important in kitchen cupboards.
- If your windows seem to suffer from condensation frequently, you can purchase condensation sponge strips that soak up moisture.
- Try to keep the temperature level at all times, especially during the condensation season.
Constant condensation can lead to a variety of problems like mould and damp which leads to unpleasant odours and can damage your health. These odours can work their way into clothes, fabrics and books, and damp can cause severe structural damage that is costly to fix. The two most common types of condensation are laid out below along with tips on how to combat them. (Or check out our info on damp proofing).
Type 1 – Surface Condensation
Surface condensation – also known as visible condensation – is the most common type of condensation. It occurs on the surfaces of a construction and as one of its names implies it’s the most visible type of condensation.
Surface condensation, if not managed, can lead to problems like mould and it can cause the surfaces of walls and ceilings to deteriorate rapidly. There are two main causes of surface condensation – thermal bridging or poorly insulated / ventilated homes.
Thermal bridging occurs when the insulation in a wall or ceiling is interrupted by another material, causing a much thinner patch of insulation. Rectifying this issue can be done in various ways but the most effective is to install dry lining in your home’s walls. Dry lining increases the internal temperature of the wall around the thermal bridge and prevents surface condensation occurring.
Type 2 – Interstitial Condensation
Interstitial condensation is similar to surface condensation but instead of affecting the surfaces of a construction, it affects the layers that make up the construction. Commonly inside the walls, floors or ceiling of the construction, over time this type of condensation can cause serve structural damage.
The other difficulty with this type of condensation is that, unlike surface condensation, you can’t actually see signs of the damage till quite late on. In order to protect your home against the damages interstitial condensation can cause, you need to make sure you have vapour barriers installed.
Vapour barriers come in a variety of material and act as protection against interstitial condensation. By installing the barriers on both sides of your home you can protect any permeable materials from interstitial condensation.
Dealing with Mould and Damp
Mould and damp are the two most common issues that arise from condensation. While mould can look very unsightly, getting rid of it can be easier than you think. When you first notice it, clean the area with bleach based cleaning spray and leave it to dry, then spray the area with anti-fungal spray. You can also buy mould resistant paint and mould cleaning sprays to tackle areas prone to suffer.
If you are suffering from serve damp, then it’s best to consult a specialist to tackle the problem. Damp caused by condensation can be treated by improving your home’s ventilation in many ways (like following the tips above), plus regularly checking your extractor fans and chimneys to make sure they’re not blocked is a good way of reducing the risk of damp.