How-to-treat-condensation

What Causes Condensation?

What Causes Condensation?

“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1789. For the purposes of this blog, it’s (very briefly) worth considering whether he dreamt up this line while gazing out of his study window on a warm summer’s morning. Because if he did so in the depths of winter, after noticing patches of moisture on the window’s sill, then he might have added another certainty to the list.
Is there a homeowner out there who hasn’t sighed when he or she opens the curtains and sees such a thing? Or perhaps spotted that wallpaper near a radiator – over which he or she casually drapes clothes to dry during the winter months – has started to bubble and peel.
Add plaster deterioration to the list and it’s clear that the consequences of condensation can be a pain. But when one adds the potential for the growth of bacteria and mould (which may cause respiratory problems) and even rot (which may, if left untreated, cause structural problems) it’s clear that consequences of condensation can – if left unchecked – be significant.
‘But what can I do?’ asks the owner. Well…exactly. Simply living within walls and under a roof creates condensation; the very act of breathing is a contributory factor, as are cooking, bathing, washing and drying clothes. Don’t worry, though: we’re not going to recommend that you always eat out, never bathe or do laundry – all the while holding your breath for as long as you possibly can.
Condensation is basically a dampening of the air until water gathers on cold surfaces such as windows, tiles and walls. And the colder the room, the worse it can be. Yet simple steps can help fight it. For starters, get hold of a dehumidifier and see for yourself how much water it can collect in a day.
Here are a few other ideas:

  • Temperatures might be on the low side, but that shouldn’t stop you from opening a window – if just a little – to reduce moisture
  • Wipe down surfaces, such as window sills, where moisture tends to collect
  • When cooking always use pan lids and open a window to ventilate the kitchen
  • When drying clothes, try and do it outside. But if that’s not viable (and, let’s face it, it isn’t quite a lot of the time) use a clothes horse rather than place clothes on a radiator. Better still, set up a dehumidifier nearby
  • If you use a tumble dryer that isn’t self-condensing, make sure it’s vented properly
  • When running a bath, turn the cold tap on before the hot; it’ll reduce the amount of steam
  • After bathing or showering, wipe down the tiles to remove the surface water. Then open the window and shut the door
  • When using extractor fans fitted in either the kitchen or bathroom, remember to close all windows and doors so they work more effectively
  • A temptation might be to switch the heating off to save money. However, heating set at a moderate temperature tends to be more cost-effective in the long run – while helping prevent condensation, of course
  • Always keep your house ventilated (even during the winter) and prevent the blocking of airbricks e.g. by leaves
  • Try not to place furniture against walls - particularly outside walls - as this prevents air from circulating freely and traps moisture

The war can never be won; it’s more a case of holding the enemy in check. But what if you’re losing the fight? Say you’ve bought a new property that does have damp and needs treatment?
Danford Brewer & Ives can help you. Damp is a tricky phenomenon to treat effectively – there are different types, misdiagnoses can happen and the wrong form of treatment can lead down a (potentially expensive) blind alley. However, we have the experience and nous to assess each and every situation and suggest an appropriate course of action.
Please contact us if you have any queries – whether it’s about condensation, damp, or any of the other building services we offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance. As always, we’re more than happy to help.