As autumn turns to winter, so problems with condensation in UK homes start to rise. Having spent the drier summer months with our windows open and a gentle breeze blowing through our property, it’s little wonder that dampness and condensation was seldom a problem. Now, as winter sets in, condensation control becomes an important consideration, without which our homes can become damp and unpleasant to live in.
Condensation Control 101: The Bathroom
One common source of condensation problems in the home stems from the bathroom. The steam produced by all that showering and bathing, which escapes out of the window in the warmer months, suddenly has no place to go in the winter. Those closed windows block the exit of the steam, increasing the chance of it travelling through your home and then condensing on windows and walls.
Controlling this steam is therefore an essential part of condensation control in the home. The simplest strategies for eliminating bathroom damp are:
- Open your bathroom windows, ideally during bathing, but at least shortly afterwards
- Keep the bathroom door closed during and soon after bathing. This will at least retain the moist air in the bathroom rather than letting it travel through your home.
- Install an extractor fan in order to draw moist air outside even when the bathroom windows are closed.
Condensation Control 101: The Kitchen
The kitchen is another common source of condensation problems, caused through cooking. After all, a pan of boiling pasta, for example, will put a lot of steam into the atmosphere; steam that will almost certainly condense some time later, leading to dampness and condensation problems.
Fortunately the solution to condensation problems in the kitchen is a simple one, and largely follows the advice given for bathrooms. When cooking, try to keep the door into your home closed. Equally, turn on extractor fans and and/or open the kitchen windows to let humidity escape. Lastly, try cooking with the lids on your pans; doing so not only reduces the damp that gets into the air but also allows you to save energy when cooking your dinner.
Advanced Condensation Control
The steps already mentioned will do much to reduce condensation in your home but this isn’t the full story and there are a number of other techniques for controlling damp in the home that can be very effective.
Turn Up The Heating
The worst possible combination for damp problems are a cool, moist environment. In such situations, dampness just sits on walls, furniture, windows and home furnishings. Such dampness problems can cause damage to your home, as well as encouraging mould that not only look unsightly but can also be bad for your health.
Fortunately, central heating can go a long way to increasing the ambient temperature in your home, and thus preventing damp problems. Typically people will heat the rooms of their home that they use frequently – such as the living room and main bedrooms – but other rooms used less often may not be heated. Spare bedrooms are a perfect example, where many people turn off the radiators in these rooms over winter to save money on their heating bill.
However this saving can be an illusion if the cool environment is allowing damp and condensation to damage your home. At least once every week or two then, during the winter months, turn on your heating and ensure that every room gets heated. Even if this is just for an hour a two, a couple of times a month, this will go a long way to drying out damp rooms and preventing structural damage from occurring.
Invest In A Dehumidifier
Eliminating damp problems in this way is a start, but appreciate that all this damp will still be in the atmosphere and may settle as condensation in other rooms. Heating your home is only part of the solution then; the other part of effective condensation control is to then remove this humidity from the air.
If you are unable to have your windows open regularly due to the weather, a good alternative is to invest in a dehumidifier. These machines do an excellent job of drawing moisture out of the air and turning it back into liquid form where it can be used to water your house plants or just tipped down the drain.
Check For Damp Proofing Problems
While bathroom and kitchen activities are common sources of moisture in the air, they aren’t the only sources. One often-overlooked strategy for reducing condensation in your home is to look for – and treat – other sources of dampness in your home.
It may be that there are damp proofing problems in your home, which are allowing moisture to enter. Just a few examples of damp proofing problems that can affect condensation levels in your home include:
No, or incorrectly installed, damp course
A damp course is so designed to stop water slowly moving up your walls from the ground. Without this, the brickwork of your home can act like a giant sponge, absorbing water from the soil surrounding your home, and allowing it to slowly travel up the walls and into your home.
Sadly, installing a new damp proof course isn’t a DIY job; unless you’re very experienced indeed you’ll want to consult a professional damp proofing expert who will know the best way to repair, replace or install a damp course in your home.
Cavity wall problems
Cavity walls, as the name suggests, are designed to have a gap between them. This air pocket serves to separate the inner walls of your home from the outer walls and keeps rain and other sources of moisture firmly outside. However there are cases where cavity walls have been improperly installed, and as a result this can cause damp and condensation problems.
Once again, you will almost certainly want to consult a professional damp proofer in order to assess the extent of the problem and to propose the most cost-effective solution to problems with your cavity walls.
Another possible source of condensation problems in the home is moisture that has entered your home as a result of a leak. You could, for example, suffer from a minor leak in your roof, or from a water pipe buried deep in your walls that is gently get persistently dripping. Over time, these drips can build up, creating a damp environment and leading to problems.
Once again, if you’re worried about condensation control you should aim to locate and fix any such problems in your home.
As you can see, there are a range of ways in which water can get into your home and cause damp problems. Especially in the winter months, when windows are kept closed most of the day, this can lead to condensation problems.
By all means start off the basic steps outlined above in the hope of getting your damp problems under control. However if even these steps fail to resolve your issues, it may prove a worthy investment to consult a professional damp proofer who will quickly be able to resolve any major structural issues affecting your home.