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Condensation and how to control it

It doesn’t matter what type of property you live in, whether it’s an old, single glazed house or a newly built, double glazed apartment – condensation can be a nightmare. It might start off a small issue, but if you don’t deal with it right away it can develop into a much bigger problem. These include damp and mould, which can damage your walls and furniture, and become health hazards to both you and your family. Condensation is caused by lifestyle and not a defective building.

What causes condensation?
Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there’s too much humidity in your home. This is especially common in winter, when your central heating system comes on in the cooler hours of the mornings and evenings. In addition to central heating, everyday activities like cooking, showering, drying clothes and even just breathing can release warm moisture into the air inside your home. When this moisture-packed warm air comes into contact with a chilly surface, it cools down quickly and releases the water, which turns into liquid droplets on the cold surface. While condensation is rarely a problem in the summer, the amount of water in the air (otherwise known as the humidity) inside our homes is much higher during the colder months. This is because we tend to have the heating turned up high and the windows closed. That’s why condensation is a bigger problem during this season, as it’s no longer confined to the bathroom. When the outside temperature drops, water can start to appear inside your home, especially on windows and walls. While a bit of water might sound harmless enough, if condensation isn’t dealt with immediately it can go on to encourage black mould to start growing on your walls, ceilings, and around your windows. Not only is this stuff unattractive, having a lot of it in your home can lead to certain unpleasant health issues including sinus problems, skin rashes, and even bronchitis. If the condensation problem in your home has already progressed to this stage, there’s no need to worry: you can read our guide on how to banish mould from your home for good.

How do I control condensation in my home?
The first step is to control the amount of condensation in your home. Use a window cleaner’s squeegee to clean water droplets from windows, mirrors, and glass shower doors whenever it starts to build up. When you’re done, use a soft towel to dry down any condensation you find on walls and other surfaces. Once your home is nice and dry, it’s time to start looking into ways to prevent your condensation problem reoccurring.

You could start by buying a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of humidity in your home. These are great at pulling air through a fan and removing the vast majority of the moisture, helping to keep your surfaces dry. If you can, invest in two or three, and place them in rooms where you’ve noticed the most condensation: these will most likely be your kitchen, utility and bathroom. You could also move one into your bedroom on cold nights, as the heat from your breath can condense on the windows and walls. You can also help the problem without spending anything. When cooking, avoid excess steam being released into the air by keeping lids on your saucepans and making use of your cooker extractor fan. If you don’t have an extractor fan or it’s not the most effective, try to keep a window open when cooking, using the tumble dryer, or taking a shower. Whenever you use the kitchen or bathroom, it’s important to keep the door closed. Although it may seem logical for ventilation, keeping the door closed is better for your home as it stops the humid air travelling to other rooms. It’s also a good idea to try and avoid condensation from forming in cold spots in the first place by making sure your home is heated evenly throughout. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature in every room, and if there’s a room in your home that you don’t use often, keep that door closed and open the windows in that room for a couple of hours each day to prevent condensation and damp from forming. Remember to leave a small gap between the walls of your home and your furniture as this allows the air to circulate and move away from the bottom of the walls and circulate around the room. If air lingers between the furniture and walls it will condense onto walls and could eventually form into black mould. Keeping windows on vent will help ventilate a property and if your property has air vents fitted, be sure not to block them off as they provide vital air circulation of the home.

Is there a long-term solution to condensation?
Preventing condensation is much easier than attempting to cure it once you have it. The only viable way to avoid condensation in the long-term is to invest wisely in both ventilation and insulation. Ventilation is key to keeping condensation at bay. We all know it’s impractical to always keep your windows open throughout the winter, so an extractor fan in your bathroom and kitchen can help so if you have one, in the bathroom it should be running whenever you have a bath, shower, or shave. If the room is still steamy when you’ve finished, leave the extractor running for a while and keep the door shut. If your property does not have an extractor fan fitted and you are noticing the signs of condensation then a portable electric dehumidifier will do the job really well. Run the dehumidifier throughout the winter months especially if the water collection chamber is constantly filling up as this means there is still excess moisture in your home. In addition to ventilation, you could also improve the insulation in your home to keep your walls above the dew point – the temperature at which the moisture in the air turns into beads of water. If you own your property and don’t already have double glazing, consider an upgrade. Double-glazed windows stay much warmer than single-glazed ones, and therefore don’t experience as much condensation.

We hope this helps!

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