Condensation can be a headache for property owners and, if you do not get on top of the problem, it can quickly get on top of you.
Condensation tends to be slightly more common in older properties than new-builds, although it is regularly found in both.
Preventing and combating condensation – which basically occurs when warm air comes into contact with cold surfaces – is mainly just a question of vigilance and common sense. Yet if the problem recurs, you may need to adopt more aggressive counter-measures. Here are our top 10 tips on how to reduce condensation:
1. Good ventilation is the key
It is always better to have the odd gust of cold air through the house than let condensation take a grip. “Make sure you air rooms well, even in winter, and if you have a recurring problem with condensation, invest in a humidifier,” says James Carter, partner at Knight Frank. Anything that inhibits good ventilation, such as blocked chimneys, increases the risk of condensation.
2. Watch out for the physical signs of condensation
These range from a build-up of moisture on windows to peeling wallpaper to damp patches on walls. If left untreated for too long, condensation can create mould growth which has potentially harmful implications for your health, as well as being unsightly. “Don’t forget that many Victorian properties do not have damp course or cavity walls, so it is important to be aware of the risks from damp,” explains Paul Bonett, Managing Director of Bonett's estate agents in Brighton.
3. Dry your clothes outside, weather permitting, as wet laundry is a well-known source of condensation
If you must dry them indoors, leave the door of the room open, so that the air can circulate freely and prevent condensation forming. You should also leave the windows open a crack, even in winter.
4. Install an extractor fan in your kitchen
You should also make sure, when cooking or boiling a kettle, that the door of the kitchen is kept shut, as far as possible. This will stop the condensation spreading to other parts of the house.
5. Cover pots when cooking with boiling water on top of the stove
This will reduce the steam produced and prevent condensation forming. You should also either open a window or use an extractor fan while cooking – and continue to do so for 15 minutes afterwards.
6. If you have a washing-machine or tumble-dryer, make sure that they are properly vented
A lot of moisture can escape into the atmosphere in a short space of time.
7. Leave a small gap between your furniture and the walls
This is a trick people often miss because the temptation is to maximise space by having sofas and cupboards flush against the wall. But leaving a gap enables the air to circulate freely. Otherwise condensation can form at the bottom of the walls with mould resulting in the longer term.
8. When running a bath or having a shower, leave the window open a little
Otherwise unless you have an extractor fan installed in your bathroom, the steam of the hot running water can quickly re-form as condensation.
9. When the weather is cold, try to maintain a constant temperature in your home
It is the interaction of cold and warm air that releases moisture.
10. Do not stuff your cupboards and wardrobes so full that the air cannot circulate inside
This is a sure-fire recipe for damp and mould.
If you have an issue with condensation, it will not go away of its own accord. But keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs and act promptly when you see them to prevent condensation getting out of hand.