The key to avoiding condensation during winter months is to adequately heat and ventilate your home. There can be a temptation to keep windows closed during cold weather to save on heating bills, but a lack of adequate heating and ventilation can lead to excessive condensation. Condensation doesn’t only occur on window panes, it can form on any surfaces which are cold enough, including walls and even within furnishings. Condensation can also lead to mould which is not only unsightly, it can also be a health issue.
It is particularly important to let your house breathe during cold weather when condensation is more likely to occur.
Condensation doesn’t only occur in the living spaces of our homes, it can occur in any voids which are unventilated including roof spaces, floor voids and disused chimney flues. If roof insulation is provided at ceiling level, ensure the roof space is ventilated. Also, make sure vents are provided to floor voids and disused flues.
Some houses are more prone to condensation including:
- Those with low levels of insulation, eg, to some 1960s homes.
- Older properties with solid walls.
- Large windows, particularly if they are single glazed.
- Those with metal framed windows.
With some buildings heating and ventilation alone may not be sufficient to reduce condensation. Improvements may be necessary such as:
- Provision of additional roof insulation.
- Replacement of single glazing with double glazing (ensuring the new windows have opening casements and trickle vents).
- Provision of cavity wall insulation (following an assessment for suitability).
- Provision of thermal board to solid walls (modification may be required to electrical sockets and/or switches).
- Provision of insulation to any cold bridges, eg, window reveals.
Tips to help your house breathe and reduce the risk of condensation and mould include:
- Provide heating. Keeping the heating on at a lower setting for longer periods will help to heat the building itself (in addition to the air in the rooms), will provide a more comfortable environment and will reduce condensation. Avoid turning the heating on for short bursts as this will only heat the air and not the building itself.
- Open windows when cooking and after taking a shower or bath.
- Don’t dry clothes on radiators or clothes airers.
- When windows are replaced ensure that they have trickle vents to aid background ventilation and make sure they can be locked in an open position if needed, eg, overnight.
- Check insulation levels in the roof/s and upgrade where necessary.
- Where roof insulation is provided at ceiling level, ensure the roof space/s are ventilated. Where additional insulation has been provided make sure eaves vents are not blocked.
- Avoid the temptation to block vents such as those to floor voids and to disused flues.
In a nutshell, the key to avoiding condensation in your home is to reduce the amount of moisture, help your home stay warm and let your house breathe.