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Damp and Condensation

Posted on January 12, 2013 by Nikki Palmer in Blog

This time of year Condensation is a major problem and most of us have experienced it in some form or other.

Condensation is caused when moisture held in warmer air meets a cold surface like a window or wall and condenses into water droplets.  If this happens regularly, mould may start to grow. This usually appears on cold outside walls and surfaces and in places where the air does not circulate well.  The moisture created can also damaged clothes, furnishings and decoration.  It leaves a musty smell.

Condensation can aggravate health problems like asthma, bronchitis, arthritis and rheumatism.

What causes Condensation ?  Condensation usually occurs in winter because the building is cold and windows are opened less so moist air cannot escape.

Where does it occur ?  You can often see condensation for short periods in bathrooms and kitchens because of the steamy atmosphere.  Quite frequently it appears for long periods in unheated bedrooms.  Sometimes it is in cupboards or corners of rooms where ventilation and movement of air are restricted.

When does Condensation occur ?  All houses are affected by condensation at some time.  It usually occurs when a lot of moisture and steam are produced.  For example :-

  • when cooking
  • having a bath or shower
  • washing clothes
  • when using rooms for long periods of time
  • after a cold night when bedroom windows mist up

What are the main causes of Condensation ?  

  • Using portable paraffin and gas heaters.  Each litre of paraffin burned releases one litre of water vapour into the atmosphere.  Using bottled gas produces even more water vapour.
  • Drying clothes inside the house
  • Steam from cooking in the kitchen
  • Steam from bathing and washing
  • Lack of air circulating in the house
  • No ventilation in the house (this can be made worse by too much draught proofing)
  • Raising room temperatures suddenly.  This can put warm air in contact with cold surfaces increasing the chances of water vapour condensing
  • Putting the outlet pipe of a tumble drier out the window instead of having a wall pipe

How can I cut down on Condensation ?  

  • Don’t use portable gas or paraffin heaters.  
  • Try not to dry clothes in your home.  But if you have to, don’t put wet clothes over radiators – instead use a clothes airer/rack, open the window vents/window in the room and keep the door closed.  Always make sure tumble driers are properly ventilated.
  • When cooking use the extractor fan, if you have one, or open a window vent/window.  Use lids on pans and keep the kitchen door closed.
  • When bathing or washing, keep the bathroom door closed.  Switch on the extractor fan.  If there is still a lot of water vapour leave the fan on, or open the window.
  • Keep furniture, such as beds, wardrobes etc., clear of the room walls to let air circulate.
  • Keep your house warm.  Use central heating programmers and thermostatic radiators to ensure that all rooms are comfortable and nowhere in the house is cold.  Try not to rely on gas or an electric fire to heat one room while the rest of the house remains cold (three or four rooms could be heated by radiators compared to the cost of heating one room by a gas or electric fire)
  • Most homes will have window vents fitted.  Unlike windows these vents can be left open without comprising security.  If you’ve been doing things like washing, cooking or showering you should leave these window vents open.
  • While we sleep we produce about one litre of water vapour, so it will also help if you leave your window vents open at night

How can I get rid of Condensation or Mould ?  Following this advice will tackle condensation problems.  You may even remove condensation altogether.  If condensation occurs wipe up any moisture with a dry cloth.  If you have a problem with mould growth, there are various ways to remove it including Mould Removers that come in a spray form – just remember to dispose of any cloths used as they can spread the problem.

The difference between Damp and Condensation    Damp occurs when a fault in the building’s basic structure lets in water from outside.  There are two different types of damp – penetrating damp and rising damp.

Penetrating damp occurs if water is coming in through the walls or roof, for example under a loose roof tile, or through cracks.

Rising damp occurs if there is a problem with the damp proof course .  This is the barrier built into floors and walls to stop moisture rising through the house from the ground.  The usual evidence of rising damp is a ‘tide mark’ on the walls that shows how high it has risen.  There can also be a musty smell.



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