Condensation Tips: Prevention Is Far Better Than The Cure

Posted On:
January 8, 2018

Condensation and moisture.  It may seem benign but it is the source of the majority of tenant complaints, especially in winter and if left unresolved can cause damp and mould problems to the fabric of the property.  With an estimated one in five properties affected, it is a very real problem for the already vulnerable i.e. babies, the elderly and those with existing respiratory issues.  In the worst cases, landlords who ignore complaints could face personal injury claims of up to £5,000.

Ironically, it is the measures to make properties more energy efficient and wind and water tight that seem to have contributed to this spike over the years.  Houses used to have more natural ventilation but with the advent of blocking off chimneys, wall to wall carpeting, double glazing and central heating most houses are actually poorly ventilated.  Thankfully, there are some easy lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve this.

So what is condensation?  It occurs when warm air comes into contact with air, or a surface, which is at a lower temperature.  Warm air contains more water vapour and it is this water that is released and forms condensation onto cooler surfaces such as tiles.  Often it is not noticed until mould growth or rotting occurs.  

Bathrooms and kitchens are the most commonly affected areas but the drying of clothes on radiators is also a big contributor.  Then comes the endless cycle, heating is put on the combat the moisture and dry the air out, when the heating goes off, the air can’t hold the moisture and releases it onto the surfaces once more.  Breathing, cooking, washing and drying clothes and heating all increase moisture in the air.  Obviously, we can’t stop breathing and washing but the following changes can help:

  1. ‍Open the bathroom window and close the door after having a bath or shower
  2. ‍When possible dry clothes outside or in a cooler area
  3. ‍When drying clothes indoors, open a window
  4. ‍Store wet outdoor clothing and coats outside of the living area if possible
  5. ‍Increase air flow by opening windows
  6. Use a dehumidifier

In more severe cases…

  1. Consider changing the ceiling treatment to fibre tiles or cork if it has a high gloss finish
  2. Cover solid floors with cushion, vinyl or cork tiling
  3. If there are many layers of wall paper on the wall, strip back and re-paper (line with a thin expanded polystyrene paper to stop the wallpaper acting like blotting paper)
  4. Check that moisture is not being drawn from the structure of the building from below the floor or through ceilings and walls
  5. Call a local damp specialist

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