Condensation on window
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Winter is coming: How to reduce condensation.

As the temperatures cool down outside, one of biggest internal problems faced by homeowners, landlords, and tenants is keeping condensation at bay.

The good news is condensation can usually be reduced through changes to lifestyle habits and improving your property’s ventilation, rather than requiring professional help.

In this guide, we explain why condensation forms and what you can do to reduce it.

Common causes of condensation

Condensation forms when warm air hits colder surfaces such as windows and walls inside the home.

Condensation is more common in autumn and winter because those surfaces are often cooler than they are in the spring and summer.

The warm air that contributes to condensation forming can be caused by:

  • Cooking
  • Baths and showers
  • Boiling a kettle
  • Using a tumble dryer or washing machine
  • Drying clothes inside
  • Breathing at night

Whether condensation forms in your home is also dependant on:

  • The amount of moisture in the air
  • The air temperature inside your home
  • The temperature of surfaces like windows and walls

Where condensation can form and what it means

Condensation is most common in rooms where excess moisture is produced, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.

As properties become more energy efficient, and we spend more time inside them during the autumn and winter, moisture and humidity can build up inside alongside falling air temperatures outside – causing condensation.

Whether or not condensation is a major issue for your home, though, depends on where it forms:

1. Condensation on the outside of windows

Condensation forming on the outside of double or triple glazing windows is nothing to worry about.

In modern, energy efficient double or triple glazing, the outer pane of glass rarely gets warm, so if weather conditions outside are damp and humid, condensation can form on the outside.

This simply means your windows are performing as they should by keeping heat inside.

2. Condensation on the inside of windows

If there is condensation forming on the inside of your windows, or your windows are steaming up, it means there is too much moist air in the room that can’t escape.

This is usually down to a room being poorly ventilated, combined with excess moisture in the air.

3. Condensation on a bedroom wall

If you’re getting condensation on your walls, it could be down to a lack of insulation as well as too much moist air and not enough ventilation.

Older properties with little or no insulation tend to suffer more with condensation on walls because those walls become naturally colder in autumn and winter compared with insulated walls.

When warm, moist air from inside the home hits those cold walls, condensation can form.

However, damp walls can also be caused by more serious structural issues, so you may wish to consider bringing in a damp specialist to take a more detailed look.

4. Condensation inside double glazing

If condensation is forming between the two panes of glass in your double glazing, this could mean your window’s sealed unit has failed.

This can affect the air gap between the panes and mean your windows don’t perform as they should.

If you’re finding condensation inside your double glazing, you may have to look at having the unit resealed or replaced.

How can condensation be prevented?

The most common condensation solutions are based around controlling humidity in your home and improving ventilation.

To stop condensation forming on the walls in your bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom, you should:

  • Open your windows to allow air to circulate more freely
  • Open the trickle vents on your windows at night and keep bedroom doors open
  • Use extractor fans when bathing or cooking, or open windows to allow moist air to escape
  • Never dry clothes inside on radiators
  • Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air
  • Heat your home to a consistent temperature
  • Move furniture away from walls to allow air to circulate around it

Will heating a room stop condensation?

Keeping your home at a consistent temperature is one of the best ways to reduce condensation.

It’s recommended to keep your living spaces at between 19°C and 21°C, with bedrooms kept around 18°C.

Under-heating is one of the biggest causes of condensation inside the home when combined with poor ventilation, as warm moist air can’t escape and forms as condensation on cold surfaces like windows and walls.

How to get rid of condensation

If your property is suffering with condensation, it’s important to clear it to stop mould forming.

Condensation on windows can be wiped away with a dry cloth or tissues, while there are also window vacuums available that can help to remove droplets from glass.

While cleaning away condensation can help limit the chance of mould forming around windows and on walls, make sure your home is well ventilated and heated, and try to minimise the amount of moist air you produce through cooking and bathing.

Other forms of damp in the home

Although condensation is easy to diagnose on windows, damp on walls or other surfaces in your home could be caused by more serious issues:

1. Rising damp

Rising damp occurs when moisture travels up through the walls of a property – essentially ground water being sucked up through brickwork.

Older buildings can be particularly susceptible to rising damp, which usually occurs when a property's damp-proof course (DPC) is damaged or, in the case of very old homes, non-existent by modern standards.

In other scenarios, rising damp can be caused by things like raised driveways and paths that sit above the DPC.

Rising damp can be serious and cause structural issues if not dealt with.

It also causes damage to the internal walls, can result in heat loss, and aggravate respiratory conditions.

Signs of rising damp include:

  • Staining of wall coverings and blistering paint
  • Damp and musty smell
  • Decaying timber e.g. skirting boards, floor boards, floor joists

2. Penetrating damp

Rainwater usually evaporates from brickwork on the external walls of property.

But during heavy rain or in buildings where there are poorly maintained drainage pipes and guttering, rainwater that fails to evaporate is passed horizontally through external walls into the building itself.

This can cause huge problems to timber work, such as dry and wet rot, while black mould will also grow in these conditions leading to potential health problems for those living in the property.

Signs of penetrating damp include:

  • Damp staining on external walls
  • Damp patches on walls or ceilings
  • Signs of spores or black mould that are isolated to one area
  • Wet and crumbly plaster
  • Drips and puddles

Further reading…

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