Devon may be warm and pleasant in the summer but it can be as cold and wet as anywhere else in the autumn and the winter. These two seasons are often referred to as the “condensation” months where Torquay, Exeter and Newton Abbot Builders are often called out to carry out renovation works to resolve the damp problems. In fact, the cause of many damp problems in properties is condensation and in this article we describe how this is diagnosed and dealt with to eradicate what is a seasonally irritating problem.
What is Condensation?
In simple terms, condensation occurs when water vapour in the atmosphere in a house comes into contact with a surface that is lower than a certain temperature – known as the dew point temperature. When this occurs, the water vapour, which is a gas, turns into liquid form – water. This phenomenon most frequently occurs on the internal walls and the inside of the windows of the house.
It is important to distinguish between rising or penetrating damp and damp that is caused by condensation, particularly because the remedies are very different and applying the wrong remedy to the problem is not going to resolve it.
There are, in fact, two principal methods of countering condensation, neither of which is especially expensive.
Keep Moisture Levels Down
Because water vapour can be created within the atmosphere of a property by virtue of the occupants sweating or breathing, it would be misleading to suggest that it can be completely eradicated. However, there are several household activities that are much more likely to produce considerably greater amounts of water vapour than these activities. Activities such as cooking, bathing and drying clothing in front of fires, heaters and radiators can cause considerable amounts of water vapour to accumulate in the atmosphere in the house.
Whatever the cause of the production of water vapour, the longer it is allowed to remain within the atmosphere the bigger the chance that it will come into contact with a surface that is below the dew point and condense. One of the most effective ways of dissipating the water vapour is by removing it at source, by extraction. If a sufficient percentage of the water vapour is removed it may well enable the remaining air in the house to contain the remaining water vapour thereby preventing it from being deposited on the colder surfaces of the property. If it is not possible to extract the water vapour immediately, a reasonably inexpensive alternative is to invest in a dehumidifier. This is equally good when it comes to reducing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. The bottom line, however, remains to cut down on all of the activities are avoidably adding to the moisture content in the atmosphere.
Keep the House Heated
The second component of the bilateral attack on condensation is to ensure that the house is adequately heated, from a dry heat source and that it is efficiently insulated. If the house is kept warm on a reasonably constant basis it will have the effect of heating up the cold surfaces such as the walls. As described above, condensation only takes place when water vapour comes into contact with a surface whose temperature is beneath the dew point. If the walls are kept warm, this risk is reduced. The water vapour will simply continue to be held by the atmosphere and will not condense. Whilst this approach can have a detrimental effect on the household bills, it is likely to eliminate further expense and remove some of the potential health problems that living in a damp environment can entail.
Some householders are disappointed when we advise them that their property is suffering from condensation rather than rising or penetrating damp. Perhaps this is because they perceive that there is no “quick fix” for condensation. Hopefully, this article has demonstrated that there are ways of effectively avoiding the issue without incurring the expense associated with the more severe damp problems.