Condensation is one of the most common causes of damp in the UK and the damage to both health and home can be considerable.
Does your property experience condensation on windows, walls or ceilings? If so, this guide is for you.
The good news is that with some simple steps you can reduce the amount of condensation forming.
There are also a few fit it and forget it products that work very well and we’ll discuss them on this page.
What Causes Condensation?
The air in all our homes holds moisture to some degree; cooking, showering, breathing and washing the dishes are just a few of the everyday tasks that pump moisture into the air.
During the warm summer months, this is rarely a problem as the walls, windows and ceilings are the same temperatures as the air. Also, when it’s warm we are more likely to open our windows, letting the moisture escape.
In winter the situation is very different.
Firstly, our windows are usually kept closed to keep the cold out. This has the unfortunate side effect of locking the moisture in.
When it’s really cold outside, our external walls, windows and even ceilings can become cold enough that when the warm, moist air inside our homes comes into contact with the cold surface, condensation forms.
The wet walls are then likely to suffer from mould growth, this may cause health issues and the home will need repairing and repainting frequently.
The Solution to Wall, Ceiling and Window Condensation – In a Nutshell
There are three areas that you’ll need to address if you want to solve condensation problems on walls, ceilings and windows:
- Reduce the amount of moisture you and your family create in the home.
- Allow any moisture you have created to escape before it condensates.
- Insulate the external walls, ceilings and upgrade the windows so they don’t get so cold.
We can sum it up in three words:
Reduce. Ventilate. Insulate.
Excessive condensation is almost always a result of an imbalance between the moisture in the warm air, lack of ventilation and cold walls, ceilings or windows.
Reduce the Moisture You Create
The most common causes of excessive moisture in the home are:
- Drying clothes on radiators – did you know that just one load of wet clothes can hold up to two pints of water? That water must go somewhere…
- Cooking without placing lids on pots, not using the extractor fan or opening the window.
- Bathing or showering with the door open but not opening the window or using an extractor fan.
There are other reasons why the air in your home may be holding an unusual amount of moisture, these are less common but certainly possible:
- Rising or penetrating damp that evaporates in your home, pushing up the moisture content in the air.
- Pipe leaks or broken extractor fan or tumble dryer hoses.
- Roof leaks allow rainwater to enter the home.
Many homeowners have improved the thermal efficiency of their homes by upgrading the insulation and windows, this has two knock-on effects:
- Less ventilation.
- A warmer house.
In other words; perfect conditions for condensation to form.
The answer isn’t to remove the insulation or to get rid of those A-rated windows.
You just need to allow the home to breathe through ventilation, so the moisture in the air can escape.
Here are 5 things you can do to help:
1 – Install Window Trickle Vents
According to the regulations, trickle vents are not mandatory on replacement windows unless the original windows have them. It is, however, good practice to install them as they improve air quality and reduce condensation. Titon has a helpful guide to window trickle vents.
2 – Extractor Fans
Extractor fans are often found in kitchens and bathrooms. They only work if they’re switched on and given enough time to extract the moist air in the room. They can become blocked and some extractor fans are too weak to do the job, so consider cleaning or upgrading yours if you have one.
3 – Open Windows in Bathrooms and Kitchens
Bathrooms and kitchens are the two rooms that create the most moisture, keeping the doors closed and the windows open during their use will allow the warm moist air to escape the home.
4 – Using Radiators to Dry Clothes
If you must use a radiator to dry clothes (which we don’t recommend), keep the window at least partially open to vent the room. Even better, buy a tumble dryer and vent it through the wall and outside.
5 – Install a PIV System
A Positive Input System quietly pumps air through a filter and around your home. It removes condensation and air impurities thus reducing condensation and odours in the home. Check out the reviews of this product on Amazon.
Here’s a comment from a customer:
After noticing that our rental property was starting to get damp and mouldy with washing being dried inside without ventilation, we decided to install this fab bit of kit! My husband tells me it was relatively easy to install, and it has certainly done the trick. Within a couple of weeks, the black mould on the wall started to turn light grey and could easily be wiped off.
Our tenant is very happy the issue has been resolved and do are we! So far no complaints that there is a cold draft.
Insulation is a double-edged sword.
If your home is poorly ventilated and the occupants are creating excessive amounts of moisture due to their lifestyle, extra insulation could make the condensation worse as the house will be warmer and even more airtight.
On the other hand, walls and ceilings that have little or no insulation are colder and more likely to experience condensation in the winter.
The key is to find the right balance between adequate ventilation and insulation.
This explains why some older houses that have never suffered from condensation suddenly develop issues after the walls or ceilings are insulated – it’s almost always because of a lack of ventilation.
Ideally, the insulation should be uniform and evenly distributed across the ceiling and in the cavity of the walls.
Double or triple glazed windows will perform better than single glazed units. Just make sure you install trickle vents when you come to replace the windows in your home.
Moisture is created by the occupants of the home and sometimes by minor leaks or rising damp, this is rarely a problem in the summer but in the winter our airtight, warm and moist homes are a perfect breeding ground for condensation, especially if you have a cold wall, ceiling or window pane.
Lifestyle changes can make a significant difference and insulation installed correctly can help.
If you’re a landlord and can’t control how much moisture the occupants of the home create, your best bet is to install a PIV system. It will be cheaper than having to redecorate the walls and ceiling every year or two due to the damage caused by the mould.
The three steps again:
- Reduce the amount of moisture being created by making lifestyle changes.
- Ventilate the home by installing trickle vents, a PIV system and opening windows when cooking/bathing.
- Ensure there is adequate insulation that is installed evenly across the ceiling and in the cavity to prevent the surfaces from getting too cold.
So far we’ve addressed the underlying causes of condensation.
Here are two nifty products that you might be interested in:
The Karcher Window Cleaner
This cordless product cleans windows by sucking up water that’s on the glass. This is a great tool for drying wet condensation covered windows.
You could use this instead of wiping the windows with a cloth or tissue in the mornings.
These work by sucking in the air and extracting the water from it. I personally don’t like them as they’re expensive to run, are noisy and the water tank needs to be emptied frequently.
I would only consider using one as a short-term solution as they don’t solve the underlying causes of condensation.
Why is condensation worse in the winter?
Warm air holds more moisture than cold air, so with the heating turned up and the windows closed, everyday tasks like bathing, cooking and drying clothes create a huge amount of moisture that can’t escape. Cold areas, such as window frames and external walls and even ceilings are areas where the moisture forms as condensation.
Can I apply a paint or wall sealer to stop condensation?
No, these products may stop mould and black marks, but the condensation will still be present.
What is the easiest and cheapest way to solve wall and ceiling condensation?
By improving the ventilation in the home, often only a small amount of “trickle” ventilation is enough to stop condensation from forming.
Is condensation bad for my health?
Yes. Excessive, moisture in the air can lead to coughs and sore throats. If left unchecked, wall condensation can create mould and black spots which release microscopic spores into the air, these can cause respiratory illness.
Want a Second Opinion?
If you want to get a professional to visit your home, inspect the condensation and provide you with a quote, just hit the link below to see how we can help you: