Condensation can affect properties of any age or size. It is more problematic in buildings that are poorly heated and poorly insulated or ventilated and this is usually more noticeable during the colder winter months.
Even if you cannot see it, there is always a certain amount of moisture in the air. The cooler the air gets the less moisture it is able to hold and eventually this moisture condenses into tiny water droplets. Mirrors misting up after a bath or shower, dampness on kitchen surfaces when saucepans are boiling on a hob or steamy breath on a cold winters day are all forms of condensation.
Everyday routines such as washing, cooking, drying clothes and even just breathing releases moisture into the atmosphere. An average family of four can produce 24 pints (14 litres) of water vapour in just 24 hours, and all that moisture has to go somewhere.
When the air cools enough, condensation may form, this is known as the ‘Dew Point’. The amount of water vapour air can hold at a given temperature is known as Relative Humidity (RH) and for every 1°C drop in temperature there is a corresponding increase in relative humidity.
Condensation is usually noticed first on windows and external walls (particularly on north facing walls). Areas to check for signs of condensation are corners near windows and behind big objects such as wardrobes, cupboards and even sofas.
The development of mould can also be a tell-tale sign associated with condensation, as moulds require high levels of moisture on surfaces to flourish. Moulds can germinate on wall surfaces once they reach 80% RH, which often means the room will be at 70%. Leather goods are particularly prone to mould growth even before condensation has formed.
Depending on the type of mould and the surfaces on which they grow, they can be a variety of colours from black or white to yellow or green. Spores produced by these moulds can irritate certain respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Just wiping off condensation from windows and sills is only a short term fix. Maintaining a balance between ventilation and heating can help reduce the amount of condensation within a property and associated mould growth. It is also possible to reduce the amount of moisture you produce by ventilating a property (without causing draughts) to reduce the chances of condensation forming.
Download our guide to the causes of condensation in your property and how to help remedy them.