What causes condensation in houses?
Condensation is caused by high moisture content in the air condensing on cold surfaces. High moisture in the air can be caused from lots of things like running a bath, drying your clothes or even just making a cup of tea! However, moisture build-up can occur in any type of property, whether that be a flat, apartment or house, new or old.
The amount of moisture in the air is called the Relative Humidity and this can cause issues when your property air cools, as the moisture will start to condense and settle on cold surfaces. Condensation problems are more common than ever before as there have been a change and improvement in standards of living making properties more air tight. Insulation, double glazing, and draught proofing result in properties suffering from poor air ventilation and trapped moisture.
The main reason condensation should be controlled and prevented is that without regular ventilation, it may create an unhealthy living environment where black mould can grow. If you are someone who looks after the interior of your home, condensation can be extremely distressing as it may affect your decoration, damage fabric and furniture, and cause a bad smell throughout your home caused by dampness.
Condensation – is it a seasonal problem?
Condensation can be described as a seasonal problem. Problems often arise during the winter months when temperatures are colder. In some cases, condensation problems can disappear during the summer. In the very worst cases of excessive moisture condensation can occur all year.
The main reason why condensation arises during the winter months is that ventilation of the house is usually low and more moisture is created. Over the winter months, we are more likely to keep doors and windows closed. After some time, this creates a build-up of moisture vapour within properties, this can cause some households to suffer from condensation.
Where the property suffers from a property defect such as blocked wall cavities resulting in cold wall surfaces caused by bridging of the cavity then this can result in severe condensation and mould affecting these areas.
How can I sort my condensation problem?
Over the years, building standards have improved greatly and properties are becoming air tight with less draughts. If you do live in a property that is at risk of condensation problems, our team can help you ensure that the air inside of your property is being refreshed and circulated efficiently. Proper ventilation reduces high relative humidity in your home to normal levels. Making sure that air inside of your home does not have excessive moisture content will remove the risk of condensation occurring. Proper Heating, Insulation and Ventilation is required to keep the moisture at the right level in your home. It is also important to ensure that those living in the property are not creating excessive moisture such as not using the extractor fans when cooking.
At Richardson and Starling, a member of our team can visit your property and complete a survey to determine if Condensation is causing the damp problem and will investigate the best method of eliminating the condensation which often means improving air ventilation in your home or repairing a property defect.
Once we have decided together, what type of treatment is best we can carry out the repairs or install the appropriate ventilation systems. These include:
- Positive Input Ventilation
- Extractor Fans
- Heat Recovery Systems
Richardson and Starling work in partnership with Envirovent. Envirovent are the leading manufacturers of home air quality solutions in the UK. We use their systems as they provide our customers with an effective ventilation system.
If you are looking to eradicate condensation within your home, we can use Envirovent’s quality condensation control ventilation system that draws in fresh, filtered air from outside of your home. This system is extremely flexible and can be fitted in houses, flats, and apartments.
How can I prevent condensation?
There are several steps you can take, as a property owner, to improve the air quality inside of your home. You should aim to normalise the Relative Humidity (RH) level in your home to between 40% and 60% air moisture content. RH can be balanced by ensuring appropriate heating, ventilation, and insulation in your property in conjunction with you reducing excess generation of moisture into the air.
What could be done to reduce the condensation levels within the property?
- Did you know that from just drying one load of washing, two litres of water are emitted into the air? One way to reduce RH levels is to ensure that tumble dryers are vented correctly and radiator drying is kept to a minimum.
- Ventilation experts suggest that those living within a property dry their clothes outdoors. This prevents excess moisture escaping into the air of your property. If you do need to dry your clothes indoors, it is recommended that you open your doors or windows in these rooms.
- There are little things you can do every day to reduce the moisture levels within your property. Even when you are cooking, making a cup of tea, running the shower or bath, make sure that the doors of these rooms are kept closed. This will prevent steam escaping into colder rooms for condensation to form.
- Another step you can take when cooking is to ensure that you are covering your pans with a lid, as this will reduce moisture escaping into the air. It is also advised that you ALWAYS have a window open when you are cooking, or if your home has an extractor fan to have that turned on.
- A top tip is that you should not turn off the extractor fan or close the window as soon as you finish cooking – try to leave them open/on for around 15-20 minutes afterwards. This will clear the air inside of the room.
- The method above should also be applied when you are running the shower or taps in your bathroom. Make sure you turn on your homes extractor fan or open a window inside of the bathroom. This will remove the high moisture created from the warm water in a cold room.
- If your home is at risk of having condensation problems and you do not have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen, it is advised that you always wipe down your kitchen or bathroom surfaces. Excess condensation moisture that sits on the surface can quickly cause mould growth. It is important to have the proper ventilation in each room to keep the Relative Humidity (Air moisture content) at normal levels to stop condensation occurring.
- If you are using portable gas bottles or paraffin heaters inside your home, you may be producing a lot of moisture that you are unaware of. For every litre of gas or paraffin burned you are creating one litre of moisture into the atmosphere. This is not the only problem with portable gas and paraffin heaters as they also create fumes that affect the air quality of your home. This form of heating should not be used where possible.
- Did you know that your pets and plants could be the factor causing you condensation problems? One way to stop short-term condensation problems is to cover your fish tanks or remove your plants from the inside of your home when heavily watering them.
- It is also advised that your furniture is at least 50mm away from your walls. This gives the air in your property space to circulate around the room and get between your furniture and the wall.
- Make sure that if you are using one room more than others, such as your homes living room, try to open a window regularly. This may seem like a small step however, it will improve the ventilation in the room.
- Finally, …it is very important to have the proper ventilation in your property. Installing an energy-efficient extractor within high risk rooms such as your kitchen and bathroom can improve the humidity levels and prevent condensation.
What is condensation paint and does it work?
Over the past few years, anti-condensation paint has gained popularity among homeowners. The paint slightly insulates the wall improving the surface temperature and the paint can also have a fungicide to stop mould growth germinating.
Many of our customers use this type of paint to cover the walls of basements, attics, garages, sheds, and entry areas of the homes with no success due to high moisture contents in the air. This type of paint can be used in areas where there is minor condensation that forms on the walls however will not deal with significant condensation or property issues.
What Is Black Mould?
Black mould growth is something every property owner should aim to avoid. This blanket term is the generic name used to describe the Stachybotrys Chartarum, a species of mould. This form of mould can spread easily as it germinates in properties that have a condensation problem. Mould will only grow on condensed water and will not grow directly on other forms of damp such as Rising Damp or Penetrating Damp. However, a wall may be affected by all forms of damp and condensation is present on the surface due to moisture in the air condensing on the cold wall area.
The black mould is instantly recognisable and can spread through materials like paint, wallpaper and plaster, causing damage to the fabric of a home. It also can severely affect clothes and furnishings.
Black mould growth can also leave a lingering damp smell and can potentially aggravate existing respiratory conditions amongst children and elderly people.