Condensation is a widespread problem that affects many homes, especially in winter. It occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with cold surfaces, such as windows, walls, or ceilings, and releases droplets that you may notice as streams on the windowpanes or as puddles of liquid on windowsills in the morning. Condensation can cause various issues, such as dampness, mould growth, peeling wallpaper, and poor air quality. In this blog post, we will explain why condensation is worse in winter, what the risks of too much condensation are, and the best way to resolve the problem.
What Causes Condensation?
Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes into contact with a colder surface, causing the moisture in the air to condense into water droplets.
This can happen for some reasons but is usually caused by everyday activities such as cooking, showering, washing, and even breathing.
Another factor that can contribute to condensation is poor ventilation. If your home isn’t properly ventilated, the moisture in the air can build up and cause condensation to form. This can be especially problematic in rooms that are poorly lit or that don’t have windows, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Why Does Condensation Increase In Winter?
At the end of autumn and the start of winter, condensation is more likely to appear. This is because colder windows and walls will cool the warm air indoors faster.
There are three key reasons why you will see condensation more often in the winter than in summers:
1. Temperature Differential
Lower outside temperatures mean that there is a greater difference in temperature between the inside and outside of your home. This makes the surfaces of windows and outer walls much colder.
The amount of water vapour that the air can hold increases with temperature, so when there is a bigger difference in the heat levels outside, it means that more water will be deposited from the air due to the surfaces being colder than they would be during the summer.
So, for example, let’s say you have some nice warm air being generated inside your property on a day where there is freezing outside. That warm air is going to be laden with moisture, and thanks to the difference in pressure between the inside and outside of your property that moist warm air is going to be drawn outside.
2. Higher Indoor Humidity
Activities such as cooking, bathing, boiling kettle, and drying clothes indoors release moisture into the air. In winter, when homes are closed off and heating systems are in use, indoor humidity levels can rise significantly, providing ample moisture for condensation to form.
On average, a family of four produces up to 13 litres of water vapour per day in the ways listed above. It all has to go somewhere, and can end up as condensation on the walls and on surfaces around the house – unless the moisture-filled air is expelled from the property.
3. Reduced Ventilation
In an effort to keep warm air inside, homeowners tend to seal their homes tightly during winter, reducing natural ventilation. Without proper airflow, moisture becomes trapped indoors, increasing the likelihood of condensation buildup.
What’s The Problem With Condensation?
We all get condensation on our windows from time to time, but this isn’t necessarily a problem if it clears up quickly. Problems start if the water builds up to the point where it starts to cause damage.
Condensation can be a significant problem for homeowners for many reasons.
- Lead to damp and mould problems, which can not only be unsightly but also have a negative impact on your health. Damp and mould can cause a range of health problems, including respiratory issues, headaches, and skin irritation.
- Make your home uncomfortable to live in. This is because the air’s moisture can make it feel damp and stuffy, making it difficult to breathe and causing discomfort.
- Weaken the structure of your home and cause damage to walls, ceilings, and floors.
- Damage to your belongings, including furniture, clothing, and electrical equipment. This is because the water droplets resulting from condensation can cause wood to rot, metal to rust, and fabrics to mildew.
How To Reduce Condensation In Homes During Winter?
1. Keep your home’s temperature consistent
You might also want to look into the possibility of a steady temperature in your property.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to keep your heating on full every day. You can just leave it on in the background, nice and steady, to make sure that there are no sudden drops in temperature. It’s also a good idea to heat the whole house rather than just one room.
2. Produce Less Moisture
Reduce the amount of moisture produced in the first place by keeping lids on pans when cooking, drying clothes outside when possible, and if you use a tumble dryer, making sure it’s vented to the outside.
3. Improve Ventilation
Improving the ventilation in your home helps to remove humid air. Natural ventilation methods such as opening windows to allow fresh air into your rooms may not be ideal on chilly days due to heat loss, but modern extractor fans are designed to work efficiently and remove moisture from the air in bathrooms and kitchens quickly.
Some designs incorporate moisture sensors and automatically adjust their power levels to be as efficient as possible. In homes with condensation or mould problems without an obvious nearby source such as a bath or shower, whole house ventilation such as demand controlled ventilation systems may be more appealing. Mechanical ventilation systems can be retrofitted to existing homes.
4. Replace your low-performing windows
Double and triple-glazed windows are much better at reducing condensation than their single-glazed counterparts. They include a sealed space between the panes of glass, which consists of either a vacuum, or an insulating gas like argon. This reduces heat transfer, so the outer pane stays cool while the inner one stays closer to the temperature indoors.
5. Adding Insulation
You could always go the extra mile though, and look into the different options presented by insulation. Insulation is installed with the primary objective of keeping a steady temperature on your property. This means that not only will you have an easier time keeping your home warm in winter, but also keeping it cooler during the summer.
Invest in a Ventilation System
Condensation can be a major problem for homeowners during the winter. If the causes of condensation related damp are not addressed, it can cause substantial damage to your property and leave you with a large bill to replace window frames and plasterwork.
By proper ventilating your home you’ll make sure it remains free of condensation related problems and improve overall air quality. Investing in solutions such as mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) systems provides a holistic approach to managing indoor air quality and moisture levels, offering a more sustainable solution to the winter condensation conundrum. An MVHR system works by continuously exchanging stale and moist indoor air with fresh, dry outdoor air while recovering heat loss.
If you have discovered condensation in your home this winter and want to avoid future problems with damp or mould that could damage your health, contact us today.