Tackling condensation in the home
When it comes to condensation, the combination of very cold weather and insufficiently heated houses can be the perfect storm. People in the UK have been unlucky enough to experience both recently, thanks to the effects of the cost-of-living crisis and a speight of sub-zero temperatures.
Condensation can develop into mould if left untreated, so if this is an issue in your house right now, my handy guide below will help you get it sorted in no time.
What causes condensation?
Condensation is water previously held in the air as vapour that has changed back into liquid form (condensed) after the moist air has hit a cold surface. As air temperature decreases, so does the volume of moisture it can hold. The exact surface temperature to cause this effect is known as the ‘dew point’ or condensation point.
Air and surface temperatures are just two factors affecting the formation of condensation in the home; we also need to reduce the amount of water vapour escaping into the air and ensure adequate ventilation to eliminate it completely.
If you spot condensation in your home, dry it with an absorbent cloth or specialist window vacuum, don’t leave it to sit for any length of time as it can damage porous surfaces and eventually turn into mould.
Rather than endlessly wiping condensation away there are ways to eliminate it. Let’s take one room at a time and consider what positive action you can take in the battle against condensation.
Unsurprisingly, the kitchen is a huge contributor to air moisture in the home; many kitchen appliances and cooking processes create steam as a by-product. If you own any of the following, you’ll know what I mean, kettle, dishwasher, hot tap, egg boiler, steamer, and even the washing machine and tumble dryer sometimes.
Below are steps to reduce air moisture levels in your kitchen.
- Use an extractor fan when cooking.
- Use saucepan lids.
- Open trickle vents on kitchen windows if you have them.
- Shut the kitchen door if you have one.
Showering or bathing creates a lot of air moisture, so it’s no surprise that the bathroom is another main contributor to condensation in the home. It’s crucial to prevent as much bathroom steam as possible from escaping into the rest of the house.
Whilst keeping the bathroom door shut is a good idea and will definitely help reduce condensation in other rooms, it won’t help the condensation inside the bathroom; that’s where extractor fans come in.
I recommend investing in a good extractor fan and running it for 10-15 minutes after you have finished washing to be effective. If you don’t have an extractor fan, opening the window a little will help some steam escape, but it won’t eliminate condensation.
Waking up to condensation on bedroom windows is a regular occurrence for many and often leaves people puzzled. The reason bedroom window condensation is so common at night is that people often turn their heating off while they sleep, causing the room temperature to drop considerably; as we know, this results in a drop in the amount of moisture that the air can hold.
Outside temperatures also drop at night, meaning that external walls and windows can get very cold, creating surfaces well below the ‘dew point’. As we sleep, we produce air moisture from our breathing. This combination of increased air moisture, reduced room temperature and increased cold surfaces are the perfect conditions for condensation to form.
The following steps can help reduce bedroom condensation.
- Don’t dry washing in bedrooms.
- Use a dehumidifier.
- Insulate the windows to make them more energy efficient.
- Open trickle vents on windows if you have them.
- Keep a low level of heating on all the time if possible.
Now for some more general points that aren’t room specific but shouldn’t be overlooked.
Condensation, and therefore mould, can form behind furniture placed against external walls because it prevents air ventilation. Relocate furniture items onto interior walls, or if this is not possible, it’s fine instead to pull them a few centimetres away from the wall to allow airflow and fix this issue.
Don’t forget to include your headboard, as this often takes up a large surface area on the wall, creating a big issue if placed against a cold, external wall.
Drying washing indoors during the winter can be a nuisance; this is especially true if you are struggling with heating bills.
Heated airers are an excellent investment as they reduce drying time whilst also being very economical to run, some only costing a few pence an hour in electricity. I recommend purchasing a cover that prevents moisture from escaping into the air while the clothes are drying; alternatively, use it with a dehumidifier.
If drying clothes on the radiator is your only option, be aware this increases air moisture and therefore condensation, so limit it to one room (not a bedroom) and invest in a dehumidifier or at least open a window.
Believe it or not, you can still put washing outside to dry in the winter. The drying process will take longer, but washing will dry even in low temperatures, freeze-drying in some cases!
In summary, condensation can be kept at bay during winter by managing your home’s air moisture, temperature, and ventilation. Even small changes can make a big difference and will help protect your home.
If you found this post useful, you might also like - Everything You Need to Know About Bathroom Ventilation - How to Fit an Extractor Fan - A Guide to Bathroom Heating.
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