condensation in loft

Loft condensation is a common problem, especially in the UK. In fact, 1 in 5 houses has some sort of condensation problem. But just because it's common, it doesn't mean that you should put up with it. Condensation can leave your home looking unsightly and can even lead to structural damage if it is left for too long. Condensation in your loft can be caused by a few different things, and we are going to take you through some of the more common ones. It can also be fixed in a few different ways by Damp Hero, and we'll take you through those as well. So hopefully, you will come away with a good idea of whether you are in fact dealing with condensation, what the likely cause could be, and how to fix it.

What does condensation look like?

Condensation is different from damp. With damp, you will likely see wet patches on the outside of your walls, especially after periods of heavy rainfall. With condensation, you won't see that. What you will instead see is dark patches on your interior walls, as well as evidence of mould and moisture on the inside of your windows. This will be especially obvious in places that don't get much air, such as behind furniture and will be more common in the autumn and winter months.

While you might be breathing a sigh of relief that it doesn't look like your home has a damp problem, condensation can also be quite a difficult thing to deal with. Of course, the patches of mould look unpleasant, but mould spores can also damage your clothing/soft furnishings, and they can even make you ill (especially if you have asthma or allergies). If condensation is left untreated for too long, it can even cause structural damage to your home.

Common causes of condensation in loft

When you strip the root causes away, condensation is always the result of moisture hitting the cold surfaces of your loft. Your loft is colder than the rest of the house, and when moisture in the air hits a cold surface, it leads to a build-up of water. And this is condensation. With that being said, there are some common reasons why you might have excess moisture accumulating in your loft.

Poorly insulated or damaged loft hatch

When you have your central heating going, your home will be nice and warm. But that heat can cause moisture to rise to the top of your house. If your loft hatch is not insulated properly, or if it has become damaged, this moisture can get into your loft. And, when it hits the colder surfaces in your loft, this can lead to condensation.

Poor ventilation in the loft

Most lofts are designed to ventilate any moisture that gets into them, usually through roof vents. If your loft isn't designed very well, these vents might not fully extract the moisture. If your loft is packed to the top with boxes, this can prevent the air from circulating properly and could also block the vents themselves.

Loft insulation

If you have suddenly started getting condensation issues after having loft insulation, put in, the insulation could be the cause. Loft insulation can do wonders for your home's energy efficiency (and help the environment in the meantime) but sometimes it can almost be too good. Modern insulation can prevent your loft from being able to breathe properly, which will mean that the air does not circulate as it should and there is no way for any excess water to escape. Many older houses didn't have loft ventilation built in. It wasn't needed because the insulation throughout the rest of the house wasn't at the level it is now, so water vapour would escape through windows and doors. So installing modern insulation onto an older house can cause issues with condensation because the loft ventilation isn't in place to deal with it.

Loft water tanks

Loft water tanks can leak moisture into the loft area. This is especially the case if they don't have lids to prevent the steam from escaping, or if the lid is damaged. Having such a direct source of moisture pumping straight into the loft can cause condensation to accumulate quite quickly.

Wet trade materials

If you are in a new build home that is already showing signs of condensation, it might be because the materials that were used to build your home are still drying out. A lot of the materials used to build a home are mixed with water, such as cement, mortar, and plaster. The drying-out process means that a large amount of water will be released into the air. When this water hits a cold surface in your loft, it can lead to condensation.

Poor ventilation throughout the home and/or generating too much moisture

If none of the above is true for your loft - the loft hatch is fine, there isn't any new insulation, there isn't a water tank, the loft is well-ventilated, and you aren't in a new build - it could be time to look into what's going on in the rest of the house. If your house is poorly ventilated and you are generating a lot of moisture, e.g. through air-drying a lot of clothes, showering without using an extractor fan, or cooking/washing up without ventilation, this moisture could be getting into your loft and causing condensation to appear. The average four-person house creates an average of 14 litres of water vapour a day, and that water has to go somewhere. If your home isn't ventilated, there's a very good chance that it could end up in your loft.

How to treat condensation in loft

If you are dealing with condensation, there are a few different steps that you need to take. First, you should try to track down what the cause of the condensation is. By going through the common causes of condensation and checking if there are any obvious reasons why you could be dealing with condensation, you can find the right solution for you. And there are lots of solutions out there for dealing with condensation. They can generally be grouped into two - home improvement projects or lifestyle changes.

Home improvement projects to treat condensation in loft

Install new vents in your roof

There are a variety of different roof vents that you can install to help improve the ventilation in your loft. The best way of doing it is actually to install all the different types because this will give the air the best chance to circulating and for the water vapour to escape.

  • Ridge vents - these are installed in the very top ridge of the roof
  • Tile vents - these are placed midway down the roof
  • Eaves vents - these are placed at the bottom of the roof

All of these types of vents will require you to bring in professionals because you will need to have scaffolding put in and they will need to be on the roof working. One DIY solution that can also help is to install lap vents. These are a really clever little device that you place on the inside of your roof and they work by prying open the felt that lines your roof, creating gaps for the moisture to escape from.

Deal with any repairs that could be causing the condensation

If you have identified that the condensation could be caused by something faulty, then your priority should be to fix the problem. So if you have found that your loft hatch isn't insulated or is damaged, then repairing or replacing the hatch will help to reduce your condensation. Similarly, if you have a hot water tank in your loft with a missing or damaged lid, then fixing this will make a big difference.

Rearrange the items in your loft

Strictly speaking, lofts aren't really designed for storing anything. Although, of course, most people do store at least some items in their loft. If you can reduce how much stuff you have in your loft, then that can really help. As well as this, rearranging the items so that they are not blocking any vents and so that air can circulate properly around them can also make a difference.

Make sure that your extractor fans are working

Extractor fans are an important part of how your home is ventilated. They are usually installed in rooms that tend to generate a lot of moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms, and they literally suck the moisture out of the room and send it outside. Which, of course, means that the moisture will never reach your loft to create condensation.

Install trickle vents if you don't already have them

Trickle vents are small vents in your window that allow a small amount of air to leave your house. This allows moisture to escape before it rises to your loft.

Lifestyle changes to reduce condensation in loft

While there are definitely improvements you can make to your home to reduce condensation, it is also important to look into any lifestyle changes you can make to reduce the amount of moisture that gets into your loft. Our lives naturally create a lot of moisture, but that moisture doesn't have to stay in your home and cause condensation. There are lots of things you can do to prevent moisture from getting stuck in your home.

Avoid drying washing on radiators

When you dry washing on your radiators, a lot of moisture is released, and it has to go somewhere. And where it usually ends up is in your loft. Drying clothes on an airer can also cause the same issue, but if you don't have any other options, place the clothes airer in a room with an open window and close the door. This way, the moisture will exit the house out of the window, rather than lingering in your home. If you use a tumble dryer, make sure that it vents to the outside through the wall or the window.

Think about moisture when you're cooking

Cooking and boiling also release a lot of moisture, so thinking about how you can reduce how much moisture stays in your home can really help. Putting lids on your saucepans can help. As can using an extractor fan or making sure the window is kept open.

Use your extractor fan when you shower

We all know how steamy the bathroom can get when we're showering or bathing and, again, this moisture has to end up somewhere. Making sure that you turn your extractor fan on before you shower and/or opening the window will give the moisture somewhere to escape to. It is a good idea to keep the extractor fan on, or the window open, for around 20 minutes after you have finished showering or bathing. This will make sure that as much water has the chance to be drawn outside as possible.

Leave your trickle vents open

There is really no point in having trickle vents if they are left closed. Some people can be worried that leaving them open will make your house cold but, actually, only a negligible amount of heat will escape from them. This is especially important if the room is occupied or your heating is on.

Don't leave your loft hatch open for too long

Your loft hatch is designed to be insulated and pretty well sealed. As long as it's working correctly, it will stop a decent percentage of the moisture from getting into your loft. So if you leave the hatch open for too long, this can give too much moisture the chance to get in.

In Summary

Loft condensation is a common issue, but it is fixable. It could be caused by problems such as a damaged loft hatch, a loft water tank that is letting steam escape, poor loft insulation, or other issues with the house itself. It can also be caused by lifestyle factors, such as drying washing on radiators, not using the extractor fan when showering or cooking, or not opening trickle vents. Fixing the issues that are leading to a build-up of moisture in your loft will reduce your condensation, and you can also directly improve the ventilation in your loft by adding vents.

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