No not christmas but the time of year condensation can be present. As usual for the winter months we are being asked to look at damp ceilings, and walls, asking for us to repair the roof. Nine times out of ten it is condensation.
What is condensation?
The air around us contains water vapour produced by the environment and our daily activities, such as cooking and washing. Air that is warm can hold more water vapour than air that is cold. When warm air cools and/or comes into contact with a cold surface it deposits the excess water vapour that it can no longer hold on to the nearest cool surface. The water residue left on the cold surface is called condensation.
In Britain condensation usually happens during cold weather when warm, moist air is generated in one room and then spreads to cooler parts of the building. Condensation is most visible when it forms on non-absorbent surfaces like windows or tiles. However, it can form on any type of surface and may not be noticeable until it causes visible damage, for example black mould. Condensation can lead to misted or streaming windows and, in some circumstances, mould growth and walls that are wet to the touch. It is also one of the most common causes of damp in buildings.
It is extremely important that measures are taken to prevent condensation happening and that any existing damage caused by condensation is treated before the problem worsens.
What are the causes of condensation and how to prevent it?
Too much moisture being produced in the home
As condensation is caused by excess water vapour in the air, minimising activities that produce water vapour will help to reduce condensation.
Not enough ventilation
Ventilating accommodation will help to remove moist air that is being produced.
For safety and security reasons please ensure that you only open your windows while you are in your property and remember to close them when you go out.
Condensation typically forms on cold surface. By reducing cold surfaces in your home you can reduce condensation. Loft and cavity wall insulation, alongside draught proofing windows and external doors, will help to reduce the cold surfaces within your home. Please contact Housing Services before fitting any loft or cavity wall insulation.
Please note when fitting draught proofing:
Temperature of your home
When heating your home try not to have one room at a high temperature while leaving the rest of the property cold. Air in a warmer room will always try to move to a cooler room and this will create condensation. Keeping your entire home at a constant warm temperature when there will help to reduce condensation. Ideally your home should be between 18ºC and 24ºC.
What do I do if I have an existing condensation and/or mould growth problem?
The only long-term prevention for mould growth is to eliminate condensation from your home. If you already have mould growth in your home it will need to be treated. You should not disturb the mould growth by brushing or vacuum cleaning it as this will circulate the spores; increasing the risk of it causing respiratory problems. A Health and Safety Executive approved fungicidal wash should be used to treat the mould growth.
What do I do if I have a problem with damp in my home that is not caused by condensation?
This is a result of moisture from the ground penetrating the lower levels of the building. This type of damp will normally leave a tidemark on the wall. If your property is older it may not have a damp proof course or a damp proof membrane on the solid floors to prevent water seeping through. If your property is damp proofed but you have rising damp, the waterproof layer may be broken.
Soil building up against the outside wall above the damp proof course may also cause rising damp. If the soil is less than six inches below the level of the damp proof course, it will need to be dug away to allow the wall to dry out. Damp internal plaster will need to be replaced, as it will remain damp despite the wall drying out.
This is a result of water from the outside of your home leaking into your building. This type of damp is usually a problem in older properties. Penetrating damp can be caused by blocked or faulty rainwater gutters, failed render or rain seeping through a roof where a tile or slate is missing. Repairing faulty rainwater pipes and gutters and replacing render may help to solve the problem.