How to Stop Condensation

If you have condensation, please take a few moments to read this page and understand what causes it and your role in creating condensation around the home. Too many people expect an instant fix or a magic store-bought solution for a few dollars; this isn’t going to happen. But if you invest ten minutes reading this article, you may just learn how to stop condensation and mold caused by condensation for free.

Once upon a time, houses were badly insulated, draughty, and had real roaring fires with chimneys. Whilst this was bad from a warmth point of view, all of the excess moisture caused by everyday activities was either blown out of a gap, sucked up the chimney, or rose through an uninsulated and draughty attic space.

Now welcome to the 21st century; fuel is becoming increasingly more expensive. The pressure is on the keep our homes as warm, insulated, and airtight as possible. Bye Bye cold but hello damp.

Condensation and mold go hand in hand. Normally condensation around the home is the first sign that your house may be too humid. If your home is too humid for very long, you will almost certainly provide a breeding ground for mold and black mold. So if you are suffering from condensation, don’t just ignore it.

By taking preventative measures to eradicate condensation, you also help to stop mold at the same time.

Typical places to see condensation are :

  • Condensation on windows and window frames
  • Condensation on walls and bathrooms walls
  • Condensation on bathroom ceilings
  • Condensation on mirrors
  • Condensation on toilets and toilet cisterns

If you were one of the people that never used to get condensation or mold, and now you’re starting to notice it, you may have reached a tipping point without realizing it. This may include the birth of a new baby and the associated laundry and sterilizing equipment, recent improvement to insulation either in the loft or attic, external wall insulation, or internal insulation improvements.

Tipping point – Other factors that may provide a tipping point might be extra members in a household, guests, lodgers, and occasionally but not so common, hidden leaking pipes, guttering, or roof issues.

What is Condensation

Condensation is the visible effect of humidity or moisture suspended in the air. Examples of where you can see condensation are on a bathroom mirror after a shower or breath on the surface of the glass, like a window.

When the tiny particles of moisture suspended in the air hit a cold surface, they turn back into the water again. This is called ‘dew point.’ Warm moist air is always looking to find a cold surface to condensate on, and these are normally windows, a cold exterior wall, or a ceiling near an exterior wall.

Pictured –  Condensation forming on the glass; if we could see moisture suspended in air, this is what we’d see.

Condensation on windows – Everyone is familiar with droplets of condensation on glazing, sometimes most visible after a hot shower, bath, or in the morning on the windows. The window glass is a cold surface on which warm moist air condensates when it reaches the dew point. This is the visible face of a damp environment.

What Causes Condensation

Living and breathing are almost always the reason; let me explain. Day-to-day activities around the house contribute to moisture in the air like laundry, dishwashers, unvented tumble driers, showering, baths, cooking, and even breathing.

During our time spent indoors, evaporated water from all of these everyday activities gets trapped in the air around us. If this air isn’t properly ventilated, it becomes damp and stale, and for every additional person living on the property, it is exaggerated.

Top condensation contributors – Just to make things worse, all of the chores and activities tend to happen during the evening when we get home from work. We then shut all the doors and windows, have a shower, cook a meal, and go to bed until the next day when we lock all the moisture in and then go out to work again.

Does opening the window get rid of condensation?

Unfortunately, a myth that has been regurgitated again and again thanks to ‘cut copy and pastes’ articles and a lack of research is that you can simply open the window. Whilst this may be true at certain times of the year like spring and summer, however, during autumn and winter, when the outside air may be very damp, this can be a waste of time.

There is no point in opening a window to let damp air in. It’s also no good opening a window for an hour and expecting all that damp, moist air to fly out on command like a highly trained dog.

A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too damp outside to dry your laundry, there’s no point in opening the windows.

It’s very logical when you think about it but all too easy to overlook.

How To Stop Condensation DIY

To stop condensation, the very first thing to try is controlling your environment by limiting the moisture you put into it as much as possible. You can do that by following the simple steps below, and as an added bonus, the warmer, dryer air will also mean your house is warmer as well as cheaper to heat. And as another bonus, you make life hard for mold to survive into the bargain.

Do not dry laundry indoors – All that damp in your wet clothes has to go somewhere. Use a tumble drier if possible or a dehumidifier as a drying tactic.

Bathing or showering – Get and use a bathroom extractor, preferably a good quality high flow or high capacity version, and open windows for a minimum of one hour after bathing if it’s not damp outside.

Cook with lids on pans – Not only will your steam stay inside the lidded pan, but your food cooks up to 33% faster, giving a 33% fuel saving as well.

Multiple occupancies – Teamwork – If there’s more than one of you living in a house, this adds to the moisture. There may not be anything you can do about this, but you can all be on the same team. It is no good only one person making an effort if others don’t bother.

Breathing – Put windows on trickle vents if you have them or lock them into a vented model. Be careful if you live on the ground floor, where the window may be easily accessible from the outside. Again, this is only useful if the air is not damp outside.

If you follow all these steps, there’s a good chance you can control and lower the humidity and, therefore, the condensation levels in your house without spending a dime. Remember, though; it’s a team effort. If you have more than one person living in your home, everyone has to follow the same steps too. You may also wish to consider the use of a dehumidifier if you have problems through the worst of the winter months.

Worked in IT for 10 years, specialising in computer measurement, resource and performance management and complex problem solving. Changed careers to HVACr in 2015.

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