Condensation – where does it come from?
The air around us holds water vapour, and every time you cook, shower, dry laundry, or just breathe, you add to the moisture level inside your home. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, and condensation occurs when moisture-laden warm air comes into contact with a cold surface like a window or a poorly insulated exterior wall. The air quickly chills and releases its vapour in the form of water droplets – condensation.
Most of us will be familiar with the sight of window condensation on cold mornings, but it can also occur in less visible areas where the air is still, like behind wardrobes, or in corners hidden by furniture – so check for signs that you might have a problem.
Top tips to reduce condensation
• Put lids on pans when you’re cooking – this will limit the amount of steam escaping into the kitchen.
• Install extractor fans in your kitchen and bathroom – a washing-up bowl full of warm water… a hot running tap… a pan of boiling rice… kids’ bath time… your morning shower… they all increase the level of moisture in the air. So an extractor fan can speedily expel the damp air before it condenses on windows and walls.
• Air your home – opening a window for just 15 minutes a day will enable a thorough exchange of stale air with fresh air from outside. And if you air rooms during the day when the heating isn’t on, you won’t waste any energy.
• Hanging your washing on radiators and clothes maidens can seem an eco-friendly alternative to turning on the tumble dryer – but it also increases the moisture levels inside your home. So on fine days, dry clothes outside as much as you can.
• Invest in a dehumidifier – many homes have a cold room that suffers from condensation more than most – usually a corner bedroom with two exterior walls. So a portable dehumidifier can provide a short-term fix through the winter months, driving out damp so you can dry out the walls.
A healthy home
Excess condensation can cause mould growth on walls, soft furnishings, clothes and even toys. And mould spores can cause respiratory problems which are particularly dangerous to babies, young children and elderly people – so it’s important to tackle any mould growth right away. If you have a mould problem but it hasn’t progressed too far (less than one square metre), you should be able to tackle it yourself using water and mild detergent. But be sure to kit yourself out with goggles, rubber gloves and a dust mask to protect you from spores.