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01 Nov 2019
Owe Carter Owe Carter

Keeping your home free of condensation

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condensation on a window
Condensation by Odd Wellies licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Condensation on windows and walls may not seem like a huge deal, but can lead to all sorts of problems in the household. If you let it fester, it can even lead to health complications.

The trouble is, figuring out how to treat condensation without leaving your home open to the elements can be a tad confusing.

Here, we look into how to deal with condensation, and ways to keep your home free of unwanted moisture.

 

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How is condensation caused?

We won’t go into too much detail about how condensation forms, as we assume you were paying attention in GCSE science. Suffice to say that condensation forms when warm air meets a cold surface, and when the air has a high level of humidity.

Humidity in properties tends to be higher than you might think. It’s estimated that it’s between 50% and 70% for most households.

And here’s another fun stat: A family of four in a three bedroom house will produce 112 pints of moisture every week, just from everyday activity such as showering, cooking, boiling the kettle... Even breathing.

It’ll be even more if clothes are dried indoors, dishwashers are used and so on.

Condensation is much more of a problem in winter than summer, as colder surfaces will cause airbound moisture to cool quickly.

Having the central heating on, for instance, leads to a greater disparity in temperature in the home. Plus you’re more likely to keep the windows closed, so the property will be less well ventilated.

This is why condensation on windows is more common in the colder months.

Read more: Preparing your home for winter

condensation on a window
Condensation by Bart Everson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Why is condensation such a problem?

If moisture is left to gather, it’s going to start getting mouldy.

Mould is unattractive and smelly… But that’s really the least of the problems it can cause.

If you start getting black mould on your walls, ceilings and furniture, then they’ll degrade. If you don’t deal with it straight away, it can ruin furniture completely. That could lead to a costly home insurance claim to replace your damaged furniture.

Plus, in the worst cases, it can affect your health. Mould can be bad for the skin, the sinuses, cause coughing and wheezing, and irritate the throat.

It can also cause and exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. Plus those with a weakened immune system can be particularly sensitive to it, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.

How to deal with condensation

If you find droplets gathering regularly, there are a few steps you can take in the short term.

If condensation’s collecting on windows or walls, lay a towel down, and then use a squeegee to scrape away the water.

Keep the bathroom door closed when you shower, bath or shave. Bathrooms tend to be better built to deal with moisture, and this stops it spreading to the rest of the house.

Then, when you’ve finished, keep the door closed and the extractor fan on until its work is done.

If you’re getting a lot of condensation localised to one spot, you could get a dehumidifier on the go. This’ll collect moisture and dry out the air.

This isn’t really a long-term solution though. Dehumidifiers tend to be bulky, and use a lot of energy.

But like so many things, prevention is better than cure in condensation’s case. The two longer-term solutions are to make sure your property’s well ventilated and insulated.

Check prices for energy efficient dehumidifiers

1. Keeping your home well ventilated

Keeping windows open or ajar generally will improve the ventilation in your home. This isn’t always practical though, especially in winter.

This is why having extractor fans in your bathroom and kitchen will be particularly helpful, if you don’t have them already.

Even if you do, it’s still a good idea to open windows when cooking, using the tumble dryer or opening the dishwasher.

Reorganising your home can also be helpful for allowing air to circulate. Keep furniture at least 5cm away from external walls, and only have wardrobes against internal walls if you can.

If you’ve got a few quid to spare, you could look into other ventilation systems to supply your home with fresh air, such as heat-recovery systems.

Read more: How to spot signs of damp

condensation on a window
A good life is coloured by Paul van de Velde licensed under CC BY 2.0 

2. Make sure you’re well insulated too

In general, a well-insulated home will be more evenly heated, which helps to prevent condensation. So it’s a good idea to have cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and damp proofing.

Speaking of damp, that’s slightly different to the condensation we’re talking about here, and tends to be more of a structural issue. You can find out how to spot signs of damp here.

Double or triple-glazed windows are less likely to lead to condensation. They have warmer surfaces than regular single-glazed windows, so droplets are less likely to gather.

Likewise, having well-insulated walls will prevent them from reaching a temperature where dew will form.

To further protect your property from the elements, read our guide to preparing your home for winter.

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