Condensation is caused by warm, moist air coming into contact with cold surfaces and affects millions of homes in the UK. This leads to mould growth, particular in unheated rooms, behind furniture against outside walls and in cupboards and wardrobes. The staining and mould growth is often a distance from the source of the moisture.
The mould and staining produced by condensation can damage wallpaper, wall surfaces and window frames as well as furniture and clothing. It can also be a health risk, particularly for those with existing lung conditions, the elderly and young children. It also makes your home harder to heat as wet building materials lose heat quicker.
How much condensation do we produce?
Almost everything we do produces condensation and the problem is often worse during the winter months when doors and windows are kept shut to maintain the heat in the home and clothes are dried indoors. The chart below show how much we produce through normal household activities.
1 Pint Clothes Washing
2 Pints Bath
3 Pints 4 People sleeping for 8 hours
3 Pints Paraffin Heater on for 4 hours
6 Pints Cooking by Gas for 3 hours
10 Pints Clothes Drying
(6lbs of spun washing in an unvented tumble drier)
What can be done?
We recognise that condensation is a common problem and we do our best to prevent it. Wherever possible we install ventilation and insulation to improve circulation of air and to make the home easier to heat. Unfortunately this does not always eradicate the problem and we therefore ask our tenants to follow some simple tips to help manage any condensation within their homes.
Reduce moisture production
If you produce less moisture there will be less condensation. You can do this by:
- Putting a lid on saucepans when you are cooking (this reduces the amount of electricity/gas needed to maintain the temperature too, so it saves you money)
- Avoid soaking clothes and only do so for a minimal amount of time.
- Vent tumble dryers outside.
- Avoid portable gas and paraffin heaters.
- Dry clothes outside where possible. If you have to dry them indoors do so in a well-ventilated room with internal doors closed.
- Ensure your clothes are thoroughly dry before you put them away.
- Remove moisture from surfaces with a dry cloth. You may need to do this more than once as moisture in the air can re-accumulate after you have wiped the surface down.
- Dry wet coats and shoes/boots in a well-ventilated room before putting them away.
Ventilate your home
Not enough ventilation traps moisture in your home and causes condensation, but too much ventilation and your home becomes drafty and difficult to heat, causing condensation! The balance is difficult to achieve and we understand that it can sometimes feel that you can’t win! However, we do have some tips to help you.
- Check with your housing services officer before you add draft excluders, they can advise you on the best type for your property.
- Don’t draft proof kitchen and bathroom windows; this is where most of the moisture is produced in your home.
- Move furniture away from cold walls to allow air to circulate behind them preventing mould growth.
- Leave cupboard and wardrobe doors open periodically so air can circulate inside.
- Open a window and close internal doors if you are producing steam, for example when having a shower or cooking. (put draft strips on internal doors to keep your home warm)
- Use extractor fans provided.
Keep your home warm
If your home is under-heated then you are more likely to have issues with condensation. With the increased cost of fuel, we understand that many of our tenants may find it difficult to heat their homes. If you are having problems meeting your heating bills there is advice available on our “Cold weather information” page, from your electricity/gas supplier or from your local Citizens Advice Bureaux. Not using your heating or partially heating your home may be a false economy as replacing furniture and decoration damaged by condensation damp and mould can be expensive. Bottled gas and paraffin heaters should be avoided. If you would like more information about heating your home you can contact your local customer services team (contact information below) or look at our “Cold weather information” page.
If you live in the North (areas north of, but not including, Inverness) please call our lo-call number: 0300 323 0990
If you live in the South (areas south of, and including, Inverness) please call our lo-call number:0300 323 0991
Dealing with condensation mould
Mould created by condensation can be removed with household bleach or a fungicide solution. If mould is particularly bad, wear a facemask. The cleaned area can them be treated with fungicide paint or covered with special fungicidal wallpaper paste before redecorating. In situations where condensation is intermittent, where it is only an issue during winter months for example, fungicidal paints and wallpaper paste can provide an adequate solution. For more serious problems however, the cause of the condensation must identified and dealt with or the mould will return in due course.
You can get more information from our customer services staff or from the Scottish Government leaflet “Keep your home free from damp and mould” available at the link http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/1125/0011805.pdf