Condensation dampness is more common than you may think particularly in older homes, and as winter sets in and temperature starts to drop many of us will notice the problem more.
Streaming windows, damp surfaces and musty smells are tell-tale signs of condensation dampness. Excess moisture is produced by every day activities like bathing and showering, cooking, washing and drying our clothes inside. You can’t see this moisture once it is absorbed into the indoor air, until it comes into contact with cold surfaces where it condenses into droplets of water.
Moisture-producing rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms, and cold surfaces in other rooms of the house where moisture can migrate to, are most affected by condensation dampness. Prolonged exposure to condensation may result in the appearance of black mould patches on walls, ceilings, fabrics and clothing. Condensed water provides the ideal conditions for mould spores already in the air to germinate and grow, damaging your walls, furniture and clothes and contributing to health problems. Humidity can also increase the number of dust mite allergens in the home, which aggravates the symptoms of asthmas.
The good news is that you can reduce the problem by taking some simple steps:
Minimise the Moisture
Dry your clothes outside whenever possible, but when inside is the only option try to isolate drying to the bathroom or kitchen, keeping the room well ventilated. Avoid drying your clothes on radiators as this is a major contributor to condensation.
When producing steam in the bathroom or kitchen shut the door to prevent the vapour-laden air spreading to the rest of the house. Your ‘wet rooms’ will often contain extract fans that will provide adequate ventilation, otherwise open the window to let the moisture escape.
Keep doors closed on very cold rooms. Remember that moisture will travel through the property until it comes into contact with a cool surface, such as a window or wall, where it will settle and in some cases penetrate.
Increase Your Ventilation
The best way to tackle condensation dampness is provide adequate ventilation to your property. Often opening your trickle vents or, when you are at home, opening a small window in occupied rooms will help let the moisture out.
Extract fans will ventilate single ‘wet rooms’ and while in the past some have been considered to be noisy and expensive to run, there are now many options that are whisper quiet and use very little energy. For more severe and reoccurring condensation problems, your property could benefit from ‘positive input ventilation’, a low energy system which ventilates the whole home from its location in the loft-space or hallway, and creates an environment in which condensation and mould growth can’t exist. This type of ventilation is the most effective method of preventing condensation, reducing dust mite allergens and generally improving the indoor air quality.
Finally, heating your home can help reduce condensation. However, consistency is the key. Keeping your heating at a low level for a long period of time will gently warm the fabric of the building, reducing the cold surfaces on which warm wet air will condense.
For more information on how to tackle condensation with our low-energy ventilation systems, see our Condensation pages.