At least six million homes in the UK suffer from issues with condensation. Many of us recognise the signs, especially as the colder months arrive and the outdoor temperature drops. Whether we're running a bath, taking a shower, cooking our dinner, boiling the kettle or using the central heating, we soon spot those water droplets as condensation forms on windows, mirrors, and even walls.
Even the simple act of breathing can cause excess moisture to fill the air, which finds its way to a cool surface where it settles and condenses.
When this happens bacteria starts to multiply, leading to black mould growth around window frames and on walls and ceilings.
Condensation on wooden window frames can be bad news as they will start to rot. Surface condensation can also spoil paint and wallpaper, especially when black mould sets in. It can even cause damage to fabrics, soft furnishings and curtains, as well as your carpet.
Worse still, excessive moisture can be absorbed over a period of time by porous materials, such as plaster and plasterboard on internal walls, beneath which there may be wooden structures. These can begin to rot, which could cause structural damage.
Known as interstitial condensation, this is when the humidity reaches its dew point (the temperature at which the moisture condenses to form water) and penetrates walls, floors and ceilings.
Aside from these problems, excessive condensation that leads to the growth of mould could cause health problems, especially in people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory issues. It can also have a negative effect on your energy bills by making your home less energy efficient.
In our modern homes, we've plugged the gaps, installed double glazing, and packed our homes with cavity wall insulation to keep us warm, conserve energy and keep them free from draughts
This can create a lack of ventilation within the building which increases the indoor air humidity. The moisture-laden air is warm, and when it encounters colder surfaces it condenses to form liquid water droplets.
Homeowners add to the excess humidity through everyday living, from bathing to breathing! On average, a family of four can produce around 100 pints of moisture every week.
Because of the lack of adequate ventilation, this moisture can't find a way out. Instead, it forms condensation on windows, walls, pipes – any surface that is cooler than the air temperature around it. After a while you will start to see visible surface indications, such as patches on walls and ceilings as mould growth starts to get worse.
This might come as a surprise, but there is more than one type of condensation:
Through making a few simple lifestyle changes, people can take steps to drastically reduce the amount of air moisture they produce:
All of these methods are good ways of reducing condensation, and they are free!
There are more complex solutions that will cost you money, but these are worth considering if your are seeking a more permanent solution to excess humidity and condensation.
Some people use dehumidifiers, and while they can balance the level of humidity and improve indoor air quality to an extent, they won't fully resolve the issue.
For a more permanent solution to condensation, there are products such as passive ventilation units, which don't cost much and can be fitted easily.
In severe cases you should seek expert help from Damp Hero, with a professional condensation survey. This will determine the cause of the problem (as well as the usual culprits for condensation such as leaking roofs and guttering, or double glazed windows where poorer quality units have been fitted, which can all contribute to the issue) and assess the building structure fully to identify any other risks.
As well as locating the source of moisture they will check the ventilation levels and advise you as to the most effective method to resolve your condensation issue.
This may involve something like heat recovery ventilation systems or positive input ventilation, each of which are highly-effective in providing adequate ventilation and balancing humidity levels, which significantly reduces any likelihood of condensation.
So, don't delay in taking steps to fix your mould problem, as it could damage your health as well as your home.