What Causes Condensation?

Condensation within the Home

Have you ever noticed droplets of water forming on the inside of your windows? This liquid forming on your windows is called condensation, and it can appear on your windows in your living room, bathroom, kitchen and bedrooms. The reason why it happens is all to do with the temperature inside and outside the building and the amount of moisture in the air inside the property.

What is Condensation?

When warm air which is full of moisture comes into contact with a wall or window, that is colder than it is, the warm air is unable to retain the same amount of moisture, and the water is released onto the cold surface, this can also happen when warm air and cold air meet, causing condensation which is visible to see to form. This is quickly followed by mould if the temperatures remain warm and condensation is not dealt with immediately.

Signs of Condensation

If your home is suffering from condensation you will start to see signs of it, these signs include:
  • Streaming windows
  • Wet walls
  • Damp areas on walls
  • Wallpaper peeling
  • Signs of mould growth
  • Musty smell on clothes in wardrobes
Condensation is arguably the most common form of dampness and can eventually lead to the growth of mould. It builds on internal surfaces when the temperature drops sufficiently below the temperature of the moist air inside the property.

Causes of Condensation

Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there's too much humidity in your home. This is especially common in winter, when your central heating system comes on in the cooler hours of the mornings and evenings. In addition to central heating, everyday activities like cooking, showering, and drying clothes can release warm moisture into the air inside your home. When this moisture-packed warm air meets a chilly surface, it cools down quickly and releases the water, which turns into liquid droplets on the cold surface.While condensation is rarely a problem in the summer, the amount of water in the air (otherwise known as the humidity) inside our homes is higher during the colder months. This is because we tend to have the heating turned up high and the windows closed. That's why condensation is a bigger problem during this season, as it's no longer confined to the bathroom. When the outside temperature drops, water can start to appear inside your home, especially on windows and walls.While a bit of water might sound harmless enough, if condensation isn't dealt with immediately it can go on to encourage black mould to start growing on your walls, ceilings, and around your windows. Not only is this stuff unattractive, having a lot of it in your home can lead to certain unpleasant health issues including sinus problems, skin rashes, and even bronchitis.

How to Stop Condensation

With careful planning it is possible to prevent condensation build up in the home. Condensation prevention will help ensure that your property remains damp and mould free and save you having to spend more money in the future having to continuously remove condensation. Tips to reduce condensation include:
  • Try to keep the inside temperature reasonably constant
  • Avoid drying clothes indoors
  • Do not dry clothes over any radiators
  • Ensure tumble driers are properly vented or the condensate is regularly emptied
  • Keep furniture away from walls
  • Do not disable extractor fans
  • Ensure extractor fans are well maintained and adequate
  • Long Term Prevention for Condensation
Unlike most other home maladies, preventing condensation is much easier than attempting to cure it. The only real way to avoid condensation in the long-term is to invest wisely in both ventilation and insulation.Ventilation is key to keeping condensation at bay. It's impractical to keep your windows open throughout the winter, so it's worth having extractor fans installed in your bathroom and kitchen if you don't have them already. Consider installing a smaller fan on an external wall and run this while doing the washing up or boiling the kettle. The extractor fan in the bathroom should be running whenever you have a bath, shower, or shave. If the room is still steamy when you've finished, leave the extractor running for a while and keep the door shut.In addition to ventilation, you can also improve the insulation in your home to keep your walls above the dew point - the temperature at which the moisture in the air turns into beads of water. If you don't already have double glazing, consider an upgrade. Double-glazed windows stay much warmer than single-glazed ones, and therefore don't experience as much condensation.