How to tackle condensation in your home

With winter closing in and temperatures starting to drop, condensation problems are beginning to rear their ugly head. Warm, moist air settling on cold surfaces will cause condensation, and while we notice it most on surfaces such as tiles or glass, condensation settling on organic material such as wallpaper, clothing or wood can result in black mould, musty smells and dampness.

The facts

Condensation is simply moisture caused by everyday living. Whether you are cooking, washing and drying clothes, showering or even breathing, you are almost constantly expelling water vapour into your properties atmosphere. This water vapour increases the moisture levels and can lead to condensation problems such as black mould and damp patches. Condensation problems can be difficult to beat as washing, cooking and breathing are necessities, not simply avoidable lifestyle choices. That said there are simple habitual solutions available, along with long term solutions.

Simple habitual solutions

There are several little things you can do to help keep condensation at bay:
    •    Always use the kitchens extractor fan.
    •    Keep lids on pots and pans as often as possible when cooking.
    •    Keep the bathroom door closed when having a bath or shower (and use the bathroom extractor fan/slightly open bathroom window).
    •    Dry clothes outside whenever possible.
    •    Make sure the property’s air bricks/chimneys are not blocked and always keep trickle vents open on all windows if they have them.
    •    Use thermostat/central heating to maintain a steady temperature within the property.

You can purchase mould sprays and anti-mould paint additives to prevent/overcome black mould growth in areas of the property worst affected by condensation. These sprays can cure only the symptoms and the mould will re-appear fairly soon after use, making them effective but only a temporary solution.

Long term solutions

A more sophisticated option is a heat-recovery ventilation unit. These replace the air in your home by taking the stale, damp air outside, then bring fresh, dry air back in, passing it back over the heat exchanger to be warmed.

You can also install central extraction systems which connect all of the wet areas in your home to a central fan before discharging the stale, moist air outside.

These systems can be expensive, but they will save money in the long run by reducing energy and maintenance costs.

Bad but Beatable

Condensation is a nuisance but it is one of the easier damp problems to deal with. If you can find the root cause of the condensation in your home, then it’s likely you can do something to, at the very least, alleviate the problem.