CONDENSATION – What is Condensation and what causes it?
Condensation, is moisture that forms inside when a property cannot deal with the water vapour produced by the occupants of the property and is a problem encountered in all types of buildings. The cause of condensation can be incorrect insulation, inadequate heating and lack of adequate ventilation.
The common causes of condensation are:
1. Insufficient heating. A cold property means that there will be more cold surfaces on which the excess vapour can turn into water. It is often better to keep a constant, low background heat in the property rather than turn on heating only when needed, as this can increase the amount of energy used.
2. Poorly ventilated bathrooms. Bathing and showering creates moisture and if there is not adequate ventilation to remove the excess moisture if will form droplets of water on cold surfaces. Warm, moist air rapidly expands out of a bathroom, so it is always important to keep the door closed during and after bathing.
3. Drying washing in unventilated places. As washing dries, the moisture goes into the air and if there is nowhere for it to go, it will settle on any cold surfaces.
4. Insufficient ventilation. Lack of adequate ventilation means that all the moisture in the air remains inside the property and will eventually settle as condensation.
When moisture and black mould start to form on windows and surfaces, everyday living is usually the cause and if left untreated the mould will cause severe damage to the décor and spread to items such as clothing and soft furnishings.
Moisture absorption crystals can be purchased and when strategically placed around the property, they will absorb excess moisture and assist in reducing condensation.
Some examples of what produces or contributes to Condensation
1. Flueless heaters i.e paraffin or portable gas. A paraffin heater can produce NINE PINTS of moisture for every EIGHT PINTS of fuel burned. Portable gas heaters produce considerable quantities of moisture.
2. Cooking – Not only saucepans and kettles produce moisture. A gas cooker can produce 1/5th gallon of moisture per hour.
3. Bathing and showering.
4. Washing clothes and wet outer clothing.
5. Drying laundry and washing up.
6. New properties – can absorb around 1500 gallons of water during construction.
Tips to reduce Condensation
1. Ensure ventilation of all rooms, particularly during the winter months, after bathing and during cooking. Opening windows for as little as 5-10 minutes every morning will disperse the moisture. Ensure that all window vents and wall vents are kept clear. Clean any water from the windows and sills with a cloth.
2. Ensure that the temperature inside the property is reasonable consistent and does not pitch from hot to cold. The heating should be left on a low heat and turned up as and when required. It can be more cost effective to maintain a low heat than constantly go from no heating to full heating each day. It is important to keep your home above 18c (63F).
3. Ensure that cooker hoods and extractor fans are used where supplied and put the lids on saucepans when cooking.
4. Prevent the movement of steam from rooms by keeping internal doors shut. The use of extractor fans in kitchen and bathroom, whilst shutting the doors to these rooms whilst the extractor fans works also helps.
5. Do not dry washing on radiators or panel heaters as this is a major source of moisture and when using a tumble dryer ensure it is properly ventilated.
6. If laundry has be to dried indoors, it should be put in a well-ventilated room such as a bathroom or utility room with the door shut to prevent the moisture travelling throughout the property.
7. Do not use paraffin or bottled gas heaters as they produce a vast amount of moisture.
8. Open window vents as these are designed to stop mould and damp and improve ventilation in your home.
9. Extractor vents should be cleaned periodically.
10. Furniture should not be pushed up against walls, preventing the free circulation of air.
How to run storage heaters efficiently
Storage heaters have 2 dials under the flap:
• An “OUTPUT” or “ROOM TEMPERATURE” dial which controls the amount and speed at which heat is released into your room during the day.
• An “INPUT” or “AUTOSET” dial which controls the amount of heat which goes into the storage heater overnight.
Setting your controls as shown in the below is the most efficient way to run storage heaters and this will help reduce the risk of condensation in your home.
Input of Auto set – set control between 5 and 6, this ensures that the heater is fully charged overnight.
Output of Room Temperature – set control between 2 and 3, this ensures that the heat is released at a constant rate during the day.
A family of four will, on average, produce 14 litres (24 pints) of water vapour every day. This means keeping a house correctly heated and well ventilated is an important step in preventing condensation.