I don’t reckon for one moment that Tina Turner’s signature hit of Steamy Windows was meant in any way to be an ode to condensation (if you are familiar with the lyrics you will understand what I mean,and for those of you not around in the early 90s you missed out on a classic tune, but I digress).
Condensation is a regular occurrence in my bathroom. In fact, our bathroom is often referred to as “The Steam Room” once I have had my 30min scolding hot shower – why do women prefer really hot, almost burn-your-skin water?
In the most basic terms (as this is the only way I can understand it) this is how condensation works:
Air can only hold a certain amount of water vapour – the warmer it is the more it can hold. If there is little movement of air and if the water vapours are cooled by contact with a cold surface such as a mirror, a window (aha steamy windows!) or even a wall, the water vapour will turn into droplets of water, i.e. condensation. This often happens in homes from October to April each year when we have colder nights here in the UK.
- So, for instance, if you have your central heating set at 20c and that goes off at 10:30pm, by around 3:00am the temperature will probably have dropped to around 10c, or lower depending on how cold it is outside, and moisture is then likely to condense on the coldest surface and there you have condensation!
- If you kept your house at say a constant 16c – 24 hrs a day you would get very little condensation so the warmer you keep the house over 24 hrs the less condensation you will have which is helped further by increasing the ventilation in kitchens / bathrooms and not drying clothes inside the house. Of course, I admit it is often impractical to dry clothes outside in winter months, but try at least not to dry clothes directly on your radiator!
- However if you have your heating set to say 24c the air will hold more moisture than if it was set at 20c so if your heating goes off at 10:30pm there will be more moisture in the air to condense at 3:00am. So, perhaps the answer is to have a constant temperature to minimise the chances of condensation occurring?
Yes, I know, far too many scenarios to think about, and even my brain has been vaporised (excuse the pun) but to finish off, here’s an interesting fact for you:
An average family of four can produce up to 11 litres of moisture per day through normal living in the house, i.e. washing, bathing, sleeping, etc. Some of this moisture escapes outside when doors are opened, etc. but at night it can condense in cold areas and cause dampness.
Who knew condensation could be so interesting?!