The problem of condensation is based on the fact that warm air is able to hold far more water vapour than cold air. There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If the air cools or comes in contact with a cooler surface it cannot hold the moisture. This is condensation. You may notice it when the mirror mists over when you have a bath.
When warm moist air cools it lays condensation on surfaces such as floors, walls, ceilings, furniture, bedding and clothes. Mould can more easily grow on these moist surfaces and dust mites can increase in number; both can be bad for your health. The problems can particularly affect young children or those who have breathing or skin conditions.
Steps to reduce condensation
Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture very quickly.
Cooking: To reduce the amount of moisture, cover pans and do not leave kettles boiling. Microwave cooking creates less moisture in the air than cooking on a hob and uses less electricity than if you use electric hobs.
Spend less time in the shower: You can limit the amount of condensation that builds up by reducing time spent in the shower or bath. Spending one minute less in the shower each day will also save up to £7 off your energy bills each year.
Washing clothes: Put washing outdoors to dry if you can. Or put it in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open or fan on. It is best to fit a fan that can be switched to run continuously for clothes drying. If you have a tumble dryer make sure you vent it to the outside (unless it is the self-condensing type). DIY kits are available for this.
Paraffin and portable flueless bottled-gas heaters: These heaters put a lot of moisture into the air. One gallon of gas or paraffin produces about a gallon of water. If you have a problem with condensation, try to find alternative means of heating.
You will need to take proper steps to deal with the source of condensation, however here are some simple things you can do right away:
- Avoid drying clothes or damp towels on radiators with the windows closed
- Keep the bathroom door closed and open the bathroom window after a bath or shower to help dry the room out quickly
- Keep the kitchen door closed and open the window a little when cooking
- Wipe down the windows and sills every morning and then wring out the cloth.
Condensation channels and sponge strips can also be bought at DIY shops. They are fitted to windows to collect the condensation and thus help prevent window frames from rotting and avoid damp forming under sills. Care must be taken to fit these devices properly.
This helpful video by the Energy Saving Trust is worth a watch.