Don’t be a drip – do something to tackle condensation!
Nov 4, 2016, 08:04 AM
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Let me just say that before I start this blog, I am most definitely not an expert in home design, structural engineering, materials technology or environmental science. What I do know is that we are approaching the time of year when, for a large number of households, the dreaded “C” word starts to be mentioned and it can have a devastating impact on day-to-day life. The word is condensation.
I experienced it in my first home and I know how annoying, worrying and potentially damaging it can be. Constantly having to soak up puddles of water on the windowsill and
clean mould away from walls and ceilings is not very pleasant.
If you carry out some research on the internet, there is a mountain of material on the issue – everything from heavy duty scientific analysis as to the causes, a variety of conspiracy theories and most certainly a fair splattering of businesses who claim that they can provide a product or a treatment to make it all go away.
What I do know is that condensation is caused when warm air laden with water vapour hits a colder surface that causes the air to cool and thereby reduces its ability to hold its moisture. If you think about it, our homes are full of water and taking a shower or bath, cooking the dinner, washing and drying clothes, hanging wet towels over a radiator and doing the washing up must all be contributory factors. On top of that, there may be additional sources of water into your living environment from a leaky pipe, faulty domestic appliances or damaged roof – perhaps even a problem with the damp proof course in the brickwork.
I remember when I initially got involved with looking into shaping the Government led ‘Green Deal’ initiative, it struck me that by trying to turn our homes into hermetically sealed units through the use of double glazing, draught excluders and solid or cavity wall insulation, this might potentially lead to issues with condensation unless sufficient consideration was given to providing adequate ventilation to give moist air an escape route. The obvious rationale to most people is that by blocking up any places where cold air might get in, it will enable heat to be retained within a property and therefore reduce our heating bills. That sounds perfectly reasonable but what is sometimes forgotten is that those gaps, which allow cold air to come in, will also allow moist air to escape.
So my top tips to deal with condensation involve taking initial basic steps to reduce the moisture in the air.
- Make sure you have efficient extractor fans fitted in moist areas like bathrooms. Is it time to upgrade the unit, which may be donkey’s years old and completely inefficient?
- If you have a tumble dryer for drying clothes in the winter, is the venting pipework properly sealed and secure.
- Is there somewhere for the moist air in your home to escape. It is worth experimenting by leaving some windows slightly open and allowing a slight draught to circulate.
- It is worth crawling around the home to make sure there are no damp patches next to appliances, around sinks and baths or around radiators and it is worth checking up in the loft too.
If you do find some problems that you can’t fix yourself like a leaky pipe or a leaky roof, a TrustMark trader will be of use. However, if the condensation problem won’t go away after taking some basic steps, you will need to get some professional help – The Property Care Association are considered by many to be the top specialists in the UK when it comes to condensation.
In the first instance however, it might be worth having a qualified building surveyor assess the state of the property. I wouldn’t recommend rushing headlong into miracle damp proof course products or fancy treatments for your loft space before taking independent professional advice.