What exactly is condensation?

Condensation damp is a common and irritating problem for 1 in 4 homes across the UK, especially at this time of year.

What is condensation?

Condensation is caused by high levels of humidity in the air becoming trapped within your home. This is particularly common in older properties that have gone through renovations to conserve energy. I.e. home improvements such as loft insulation, installation of new windows, blocking up open fireplaces. The property becomes sealed which, whilst great for energy efficiency, encourages moisture we create from every day activities like cooking and washing to stay trapped within it.

Warm air holds more water vapour than cool air. As the air warms its molecules move farther apart, making room for more molecules. When temperatures drop moisture that is held in warmer air is discharged and lands on cooler surfaces, creating a condensation problem. You may notice this on windows early in the morning or, where the windows are warmer than the wall, areas of the wall may drip with condensation. When loft insulation is insufficient, a build up of condensation could appear in loft spaces. This is important to monitor as it could lead to long-term timber problems.

If the relative humidity levels within the property are very high then black mould will grow. A healthy home will have levels of relative humidity somewhere between 45-55%. Black mould will start to form if relative humidity levels are at 80% or higher for 6 hours or more.

The implications of condensation

Not only is mould unsightly and damaging to the fabric of a building, it has also been found to aggravate breathing and skin conditions, such as asthma and eczema.

If you have a problem with condensation, you’re likely to also have a problem with dust mites. Dust mites thrive in humid conditions, as their only source of water is from the air. This means that if there are high levels of relative humidity in a home it’s the perfect breeding ground for dust mites. The higher the humidity, the quicker they will breed. One of the main triggers in aggravating asthma symptoms is the house dust mite and their droppings. Researchers estimate that these microscopic creatures may cause up to 80% of asthma attacks as well as countless cases of eczema.

Poor indoor air quality, normally attributed to lack of effective ventilation, can lead to dizziness, headaches, coughing and sneezing, difficulties breathing, dry skin, throat and eyes. Moreover, air pollution can be extremely harmful to health, leading to breathing issues, allergies, asthma and chronic pulmonary disease.

How do I get rid of condensation?

Whilst the best approach to any damp issue is to organise a professional treatment, there are also things that you can do yourself to help minimise the chance of damp condensation in your home getting worse.
With the exception of over-crowded properties, there tends to be three major factors that contribute to condensation: inadequate heating, poor insulation or insufficient ventilation.
Firstly, it’s important to ensure your property is kept warm (ideally around 18 degrees). You may need to improve your insulation in places. For example, does your loft have 270mm mineral wool spread evenly, and not squashed, throughout?  Once you have a good, controlled temperature, you can think about ventilating. Mechanical ventilation such as extractions fans, should be in each wet room i.e. kitchens and bathrooms. In order to get good cross-flow ventilation, you should consider brief and regular bursts of fresh air by opening the windows together at both the front and back.
If you still find you are having problems getting rid of condensation, you can contact us and organise a free homeowner survey or talk to a professional by calling 0121 666 7706 or emailing us – hello@sixstargroup.com