Condensation is a problem that affects any home or building. It can leave mould and if untreated can cause damage to the building, as well as causing a health problem to the occupants.
What is Condensation?
All air contains water vapour to a greater or lesser degree. The amount of moisture contained in the air varies depending on the temperature of the air. Warmer air can hold more water than cold air which leads to humidity.
When this warm moisture rich air comes into contact with a cold surface or cold air, the warm air cools and in doing so is unable to retain all the water vapour in the air. This excess moisture is then released as water which becomes condensation.
Condensation is most noticeable where it forms on windows or other non absorbent surfaces, but it can form on any surface. In these situations it might only be noticed by the signs of discolouration and mould, or material damage, like rotting or distortion occurs.
User Causes of Condensation
Condensation is a result of moisture within the air and can be caused by a number of normal activities within the home.
• Washing and drying of clothes
• Heating the property
• Even breathing!
It is typical that many cases of condensation are only observed in the Winter time. This is when most home activities are carried out inside the property with extra reliance on the heating system but without extra ventilation.
Structural Causes of Condensation
There are structural issues which can also cause and contribute to condensation issues. Moisture can be drawn from the structure of the building into the interior, for example, from below the floor or through the walls and ceiling.
This can be particularly prevalent in flats due to occupation above and below, but it can also be because the method of construction or structural failures have caused moisture content throughout to be high.
Some properties, particularly older ones, may not have a damp proof course, which acts to prevent soil moisture from rising upwards into the property above. Equally, the existing damp proof course may have been damaged, compromised or blocked. Other causes include lack of adequate ventilation below the floor level, or where the cavity gap has been bridged in cavity walls, or even to damaged roofing and guttering.