What is condensation?

Condensation in the home is where droplets of water are formed because the air has cooled and so cannot hold the moisture it has absorbed. An example of this might be water droplets forming on your bathroom mirror during a bath or shower. During warm weather the air around us will hold a vast amount of moisture. As soon as this starts to cool, the air will release the moisture in the form of droplets. Usually, this will cause condensation patches around windows, in corners, behind wardrobes – anywhere with a cold wall, and little movement of air. Not reducing condensation will result in mould growing, which can be harmful to your health.

How is condensation in the home caused?

Condensation is caused when there is too much moisture in the air – too much being produced at home. Lack of ventilation is a factor, as well as having cold surfaces and also a changing temperature in the house. You might notice, for example, if you are at the end of a terrace, one wall suffers from condensation much more, as it is a colder wall.

What does condensation cause?

Too much condensation can cause some major problems in your property, not only in terms of mould or mildew. Humid conditions where condensation is high will also help dust mites to flourish. This will affect anyone who have problems with asthema or breathing.

When does it occur?

Everything we do at home will cause condensation – from cooking, washing dishes, showering to actually just breathing (especially if you have a few fellow people over). Here are some facts from Ceredigion County Council for example:

  • 2 people at home for 16 hours: produces 3 pints of moisture
  • A bath or shower: 2 pints of moisture
  • Drying clothes indoors: 9 pints
  • Cooking and using the kettle: 6 pints
  • Washing dishes: 2 pints
  • Bottled gas heater, on for 8 hours: 4 pints of moisture

Condensation in the home can’t be helped, but what we can do is offer you some advice on how to keep condensation down, and how to stop its effects.

How can I cut it down?

The first step, if the condensation in the home is quite bad is to make sure you wipe down your windows and windowsills every morning. We’d also recommend surfaces that have got wet such as bathroom tiles – straight after a shower for example. If you are using a cloth to dry with, make sure you wring out as much of the moisture as possible, otherwise it will dry and the same amount of water will be back in the air in your house.

Secondly, start changing the way you run the house. If you usually dry your clothes in indoors, start drying them in the bathroom – shut the door and open the window for ventilation. Running a bath? If you add cold first and then hot, this reduces the steam by around 90%! Also, when cooking, use as little water as possible to boil your vegetables. Use a steamer and boil only one pot of water to cook 3 or 4 types of veg!

Making sure your house is well ventilated is also key to cutting your condensation down. Ventilating the house means you are replaced possibly moisture heavy air with drier air from outside. To ventilate properly, open a window downstairs and upstairs, with all doors open, for at least 30 minutes a day. Other tips include keeping a window slightly open for 20 minutes after cooking or showering. Also, to avoid clothes and shoes getting covered in mildew don’t overfill your wardrobe! It isn’t a lecture – if a wardrobe is full to the brim, air can’t circulate, so moisture gathers …!

Heating your house, what’s best to do?

Now reading the above we come onto heating your house. As we already know, warm air holds moisture, and cold air doesn’t. In fact cold surfaces will attract condensation. So when heating your house, what’s best to do? What isn’t best to do is warm one or two rooms and keep the rooms you don’t use cold. This means condensation in the home invariably ends up worse in the colder rooms. It is better to keep a low, constant temperature in the house to keep the condensation at bay as much as possible.

What is the difference between mould and condensation?

Basically, mould is a fungus that grows – usually as a result of condensation – but condensation is the water droplets. Leaving condensation will result in mould growing (perhaps in little black dots you might notice these in the corners of rooms). To remove it you will need to use a fungicidal wash that has a HSE approval number (Health and Safety Executive). If it’s bad enough that the walls need painting, tell your landlord/letting agent! It is important to bear in mind that the only cure for severe mould is to make sure you keep condensation in the home down to a minimum!