Well, it took its time, but winter has finally arrived. And with it, for some people, the arrival of another unwelcome guest inside the home – condensation.
The occasional spot of condensation isn’t an issue. But if you’re mopping up pools of water from floors and window ledges regularly, it might be that you have an ongoing problem with condensation in your home.
If that’s the case, it’s important to understand what’s causing the problem and what steps you can take to reduce it, before it can do permanent damage.
What causes condensation?
When warm air (which can absorb large amounts of moisture in the form of water vapour) meets a cold object such as a window, its temperature is reduced. If it falls below what is known as its ‘dew point’, some of the absorbed moisture will turn back into water and settle in droplets on the window surface, creating the film we see as condensation
The colder the surface (think single glazed windows in the middle of winter), the warmer the air in your home and the higher the moisture level within it, the worse your condensation problem will be.
So where does all the moisture come from?
Pretty much everything we do in our homes generates some kind of moisture.
In the kitchen, saucepans, kettles and dishwashers all give off steam that is readily absorbed by the air. Bathrooms, of course, are a major source of moisture, as are damp clothes that are left out to dry on radiators during the winter months.
Freestanding heaters increase your home’s moisture content – up to 350cc per hour for a gas heater, and as much 4 litres for every 3.5 litres of fuel burned in a paraffin heater.
Houseplants draw water up through their roots and release it as water vapour from their leaves and our breathing adds yet more moisture to the air around us. Even in our sleep, we produce up to half a litre of moisture per person over the course of an 8 hour night.
Plus, if you live in a new build home, all the moisture absorbed by bricks, plaster and other building materials during construction – up to 7000 litres for an average 3 bedroom house – will be released back into the air as they dry out.
In the past, all that moist air could escape up chimneys, through open windows and around our ill-fitting front doors. But as we’ve made our houses more comfortable and energy efficient, we’ve sealed the gaps that allow air to circulate, increasing moisture levels inside the home and creating the perfect conditions for condensation to develop.
The effects of condensation on your home and family
Condensation isn’t simply the inconvenience of ‘steamy windows’. Excess moisture of any kind can cause lasting damage to window frames, curtains, wallpaper and furniture.
It can even be a risk to your family’s health. Damp and moisture encourage mould, and mould spores in the air can, in some cases, lead to serious illness, particularly among children with respiratory problems such as asthma and those with a weakened immune system.
So if you find yourself with a condensation problem, it’s important you take steps to tackle it. Keeping your home properly heated and opening windows for at least part of the day to let moist air escape can make a big difference, but if condensation persists, you can find further advice on dealing with it on the Eurocell website at http://www.eurocell.co.uk/homeowners/windows/how-tostop-condensation