No need to get steamed up about condensation

Written by Ian Summersgill on 25 October 2012.

Chartered Building Surveyors – Linchpin Ltd state that condensation has the greatest potential for misdiagnosis, and subsequent inappropriate and ineffective remedial work.

More significantly, condensation has the greatest potential impact on human health, so an understanding of what it is and how to resolve it is vital.

What is condensation?

All air contains varying amounts of water vapour. The warmer the air temperature, the greater the amount of water vapour the air can hold. Condensation occurs because the moisture in the air can no longer be held as a vapour and returns to its liquid form. This occurs when warm moist air comes into contact with either cooler air, or more importantly, a cooler surface.

Solutions

Ian Summersgill, Linchpin’s managing director states that the reduction of moisture production in the home, controlled ventilation, appropriate thermal insulation and economic heating systems are all issues which need to be understood and appropriately managed if excessive and harmful condensation is to be avoided. Summersgill continues by stating that most condensation can be significantly reduced by following basic principles:-

Reducing moisture production

Many normal domestic activities will produce moisture vapour, and some of these activities can easily be managed in a way that minimises this production. eg:-

Kitchens

Keeping lids on pans of boiling water, the installation and judicious use of extractor fans and closing of kitchen doors can all significantly reduce the incidence and/or spread of moisture derived from cooking.

Bathrooms

Closing bathroom doors, and opening windows or vents during and after taking a bath or shower are both effective in reducing the production and spread of condensation.

Drying clothes inside

The drying of clothes inside has the greatest potential for the creation of moisture vapour. Drying clothes on radiators or on airers drives warm moisture-laden air into the dwelling.

Clean it up - throw it out

Any condensation that is mopped up (typically from the window cills of single-glazed windows in the winter) should be disposed of, otherwise it effectively forms a reservoir of moisture for future condensation.

Other defects

Ensuring that there are no obvious defects within the dwelling that may cause other forms of dampness is also important.

Ventilation

Ventilation is a necessity for human health since it allows fresh oxygen-laden air to circulate in our dwellings. It is essential for the removal of unhealthy fumes, such as from WCs and the combustion of fuels for heating and cooking. It is also essential for the removal of any excess moisture by the process of evaporation.

Extractor fans

The most commonly adopted automated response to the requirement for ventilation is the extractor fan.

External furniture and roof voids

A lack of air circulation can also enable condensation. Try to avoid locating large items of furniture on external walls as this can reduce the evaporative effect of ventilation. Adequate ventilation in insulated roof voids is essential, particularly during the winter months when condensation is more likely.

Thermal insulation and adequate heating

Raising the air and surface temperature within a dwelling not only provides human comfort, but also reduces the occurrence of condensation. An adequate and suitable space heating system is therefore essential.

The failure to heat also enables condensation to occur. Concerns regarding the financial costs involved in heating are becoming an increasingly encountered social and health problem. Dampness from condensation will further cool the walls, resulting in even more condensation – a vicious circle.

From the preceding solutions it can be seen that suitable installations – such as appropriate thermal insulation, adequate ventilation, and economic and responsive heating systems - will go a long way to remove or reduce the impact and severity of condensation. However, condensation is undoubtedly influenced by lifestyle. Cultural differences in such activities as cooking, cleaning, washing and heating has a significant impact on moisture generation within the home.

Summersgill concludes by stating “its relatively simple, reduce the amount of moisture in the air, and the risk of condensation reduces on a commensurate basis. “

If you would like to know more about our services or to discuss whether we could help you with a particular matter please contact us by telephone on 01423 790155, or by e mail on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Linchpin Ltd RicsIf you would like to know more about our services or to discuss whether we could help you with a particular matter please contact us by telephone on 0113 3884802, or by e mail on info@linchpinltd.co.uk
Linchpin Ltd, West One, 114 Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 1BA / The Old Rectory, Thornton in Craven, Skipton, BD23 3TN