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What causes condensation and how to get rid of it for good

Condensation can lead to all sorts of problems in the home, including a home insurance claim. Although condensation can be tough to get rid of, it is possible. Our guide looks at the best ways to tackle the stubborn problem.

Condensation in the home with signs of damp

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What causes condensation on windows and walls?

Condensation forms if the humidity is high inside a house. The water vapour in the air meets a cold surface and condenses. This causes droplets to form on the windows and walls, for example.

So in theory, if the levels of humidity are low, you should get less condensation. A good range of humidity for homes is between 30%-60%. Keeping it around 30% humidity can also minimise and control dust mites. 

And here’s another fun stat: according to Oxford city council, an average person creates nearly 6 pints (3 litres) of water vapour in a day, and that's just through breathing*.

Cooking followed by washing up could create over 7 pints (4 litres) of water vapour per day.

And even more water vapour is created if clothes are dried indoors and family members are taking baths or showers.

You can easily check the levels of humidity in your home with a humidity meter. You can buy these on Amazon relatively cheaply.

Check prices for humidity meters on Amazon

Condensation is usually a problem in the home over winter. This is because cold surfaces cause air-bound 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 is less ventilated.

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

 

How else can moisture get into my home?

It’s not just breathing and everyday chores that can cause excess moisture in your home. Here are some other ways moisture can get into your home:

  • Blocked or damaged guttering, leaking roofs or walls, poorly fitting doors and windows
  • Plumbing faults or poorly sealed baths and showers
  • Faulty appliances
  • Groundwater can sometimes rise up the walls causing damp and mould in your home

You might be able to spot some of these issues if you do your seasonal home maintenance checks. These checks are particularly important in the lead up to winter. If you think you have any of these problems in your home, it’s worth speaking to a professional who can tell you what to do.

 

Why is condensation such a problem?

If moisture is left to gather, it’s going to start getting mouldy, which at the very least is unattractive and smelly. 

But it can become more serious. If you start getting mould and damp in your home it could degrade your walls, ceilings and furniture. If you don’t deal with it straight away, it could ruin furniture completely.

That could lead to a home insurance claim to replace your damaged furniture.

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Mould can also affect your health. It’s bad for the skin and the sinuses. It can also cause coughing and wheezing, breathing problems and irritate the throat. It could also exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

Those with a weakened immune system might be particularly sensitive to it, such as people undergoing chemotherapy.

 

How to stop condensation

Like so many things, prevention is better than cure in condensation’s case. If you find droplets gathering regularly, there are a few steps you can take to reduce condensation in the home in the short term.

 

Ventilation

Keeping windows open or ajar generally improves the ventilation in your home. This isn’t always practical, especially in winter if you want to make sure your home is energy efficient

Reorganising your home could also be helpful for allowing air to circulate. Keep furniture at least 5cm away from external walls, and 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.

 

Insulation

In general, a well-insulated home should 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 if you can. And you can try these home warming hacks, too.

 

Dehumidifiers

If you’re getting a lot of condensation localised in one spot, you could get a dehumidifier. This collects moisture and dries out the air.

A dehumidifier isn’t really a long-term solution as they’re bulky and use a lot of energy. Try to use yours sparingly.

Check prices for dehumidifiers on Amazon

You can pick up disposable dehumidifiers for the home that could also work in the immediate short term. They don’t need to be plugged in, but they aren’t reusable, which means a lot of waste. You can also use these to get rid of condensation in your caravan if you have one.

Check prices for disposable deuhmidifiers on Amazon
 

Extractor fans

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.

 

Removing water from your windows and walls 

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

*Based on an adult creating 0.2 litres of water vapour per hour while awake and 0.02 litres per hour while asleep, assuming they sleep for 8 hours. 

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