Condensation in autumn and winter

As autumn and winter close in and temperatures begin to drop, condensation problems begin to rear their ugly head. Warm, moist air settling on cold surfaces will cause condensation, and while it is most noticeable on surfaces such as tiles or glass, condensation settling on organic material such as wallpaper, clothing or wood can result in black mould, musty smells and dampness.

So what can be done about condensation to avoid any associated problems in autumn/winter 2013?

Condensation facts

Condensation is simply the moisture caused by everyday living. Whether you are cooking, washing and drying clothes, going for a shower or even breathing, you are almost constantly expelling water vapour into your properties atmosphere. This water vapour increases the moisture levels in a property and can lead to condensation problems such as black mould and damp patches.
Condensation problems can be difficult to combat because washing, cooking and breathing are necessities, not simply lifestyle choices that can be avoided. That said, there are DIY solutions to the problems, along with more long-term solutions.

DIY solutions

There are few little things that a property owner can do, or a landlord can advise their tenants to do, to combat condensation:
    •    Always use your kitchens extractor fan.
    •    Keep lids on pots and pans as often as possible.
    •    Keep the bathroom door closed when having a bath or shower (and use the bathroom extractor fan/slightly open bathroom window whenever possible).
    •    Dry clothes outside whenever possible.
    •    Make sure the property’s air bricks/chimneys are not blocked
    •    Use thermostat/central heating to maintain a steady temperature within the property

You can also buy mould sprays and anti-mould paint additives to combat/prevent black mould growth in areas of the property badly affected by condensation. These sprays will cure the symptoms but the mould will return when they are not used, making them effective but temporary solutions.

Long-term treatments

The only way to permanently remove condensation problems is to properly manage the air in your home. In small properties this can be achieved with extractor fans in key rooms such as the bathroom and the kitchen but for larger properties a positive pressure system may be a wise investment. Positive pressure systems draw in fresh air, then filter and dry that air at an ambient temperature. This dry air is then re-introduced into your property, continuously generating positive pressure by diluting the damp air that would normally cause condensation. These systems can be expensive, but they will save money in the long run by reducing energy and maintenance costs.

Bad but beatable

Condensation is a pain but it is one of the easier damp problems to deal with. If you can locate the root cause of the condensation problems in your home, then it is likely you can do something to at least alleviate the problem.