Condensation is a common cause of dampness in buildings and affects properties of all types and ages. In particular it is associated with black spot mould growth.
Black mould growth is often the first visible sign of condensation. The mould and its spores cause a musty odour and can give rise to respiratory health problems.
If condensation occurs in sub floor areas the timbers can become damp and susceptible to dry or wet rot.
Condensation is more common in the colder months when the water vapour levels are higher, and sometimes the problem can occur away from where the water vapour is produced. For example, water vapour produced in a bathroom and kitchen may migrate through the house and condense on the walls of a cold bedroom. The warm air that holds the water vapour is attracted to cold surfaces by atmospheric pressure.
Black mould can only thrive on the pure water associated with condensation and so is not an indication of rising damp.
How to Reduce Condensation
- Improve Ventilation
The most effective way to control local condensation problems is to install a powered mechanical extractor fan. Where condensation is a widespread problem a more successful method would be the installation of a PIV fan (Positive Induction Ventilation) air pressure system. This will draw air into the property from the roof space and gently push it down causing moisture laden air to be pushed out through the fans and vents.
- Adequately Heat
A constant moderate heat will gradually warm wall surfaces, eliminating cold spots and reduce the risk of condensation.
- Improve Insulation
Suitable adequate insulation will eliminate the cold surfaces where condensation can occur.
Other Useful Measures
Remove excess water sources such as bottled gas heaters; insulate cold surfaces; insulate solid walls and floors; and prevent water penetration which may be the cause of cool walls and additional water vapour.
Dehumidifiers can help to dry out a severely wet area; but used incorrectly they can just end up trying to ‘dry out the world’.
Anti-fungal washes are an effective short-term measure to remove black mould. Anti-mould paints are particularly useful in kitchens and bathrooms or other areas where condensation is difficult to manage and where there is a risk of mould growth.
When cooking, washing, bathing or drying clothes, keep the doors to those rooms closed and a window open to prevent the warm moisture laden air migrating to the colder areas.
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