One of the most common visual effects of condensation – apart from water being deposited on cooler surfaces – is that of mould growth. This will often look like ‘black spots’ (although it will completely cover a surface when conditions are right). For mould growth to occur there needs to be a sufficient amount
of clean water available (in relatively humid conditions) for extended periods of time. Mould can be removed by washing down with a bleach type
solution and special paints can be applied which may help prevent growth of mould but the only permanent cure is to reduce the amount of condensation in a property.
WAYS TO CONTROL CONDENSATION
There are three primary measures that can be taken to prevent condensation. These are to: 1. Increase ventilation – to remove moist air from the building and not allow it to come into contact with cold surfaces
2. Increase insulation – to prevent a cold surface reaching below Dew Point
3. Maintain consistent heating – to prevent the structure to become cold
PRACTICAL THINGS YOU CAN DO
• Leave some background heat on through the day in cold weather. Most dwellings take quite a long time to warm up and it may cost you more if you try to heat it up quickly in the evening.
• After a bath or shower, try to ventilate the room to the outside, not to the rest of the property - just opening a window or the extractor fan (and closing the door) will help.
• Ideally dry clothes out of doors. Where this is not possible, dry them in a cool area of the house or flat. Whilst this will take longer, less moisture can be held in colder air and with good ventilation, the risk of condensation is lower.
• When people come in with wet coats, hang them outside the living area to dry.
• Try to increase the change of air in the premises - increase ventilation. Trickle vents can be added to double gazed units
• Add forced ventilation/extraction to areas which produce a lot of moisture (kitchens and bathroom). Extractor fans are available with an air-moisture switch so that they operate automatically while the moisture in the air is above a set amount. Other units called heat exchangers (more expensive/complicated) are available which remove the moist air and reuse the thermal energy within it which would otherwise be wasted.
• Consider using a dehumidifier - domestic types are now available and can remove a surprising amount of water from the air.
• Don’t overfill cupboards and wardrobes. Always make sure that some air can circulate freely by fitting ventilators in doors and leaving a space at the back of the shelves.
• Do not use paraffin or LPG heaters. They are probably not allowed in flats.
If condensation still persists there are still some other changes to try. • Simple secondary glazing consisting of little more than a sheet of glass (or plastic) screwed to the window frame with a seal in between can be fitted. This is relatively cheap. Fixed secondary glazing must not be installed on all opening windows in a room as some ventilation is essential. DIY kits are available which allow the secondary glazing to be temporary removed or opened to allow the original window to be opened for ventilation.
• Alternatively new double-glazing windows can be considered. Although much more expensive than simple secondary glazing, there are additional benefits; existing wooden or metal windows will need continuous maintenance and repair - with new double glazed windows, you get new window frames which will probably
be low maintenance or maintenance free.
• Some decorative materials always have cold surfaces, (i.e. ceramic tiles, mirrors etc.) and are well known for the formation of condensation. There is not much you can do where this occurs other than keeping the room (and so the tiles) evenly heated throughout the day or improve ventilation.
• Some wall surfaces can also be a problem. Where the wall is papered the situation may be made worse if there are many layers of paper, (this can just act like blotting paper). All the layers should be stripped and the wall re-papered.
• Things can also be improved by lining the wall with thin expanded polystyrene (normally available from a wallpaper stockist) before you hang new wallpaper.
• Painted walls can also have a cold surface. If you do not want to paper it, consider lining it with wooden paneling or another material such as cork tiles.
• Ceilings under the roof will suffer from condensation if the original construction of the block does not provide any roof insulation. If there is no or little roof insulation, additional insulation should be installed and a false ceiling with insulation can be installed. For some groups of people, there are financial grants in the UK for such work - check with the Local Authority or advice centre for details. Additional insulation will not only reduce condensation, but also reduce energy loss and so save money.
• Where ceilings have a high gloss finish, consider covering with expanded polystyrene, cork or fibre tiles; alternatively wooden paneling can be installed.
• Solid floors (i.e. a slab of concrete) are often cold because of their large thermal mass (they take a long time to warm up). Even vinyl floor tiles tend to be cold. However there are warm flooring alternatives available such as cork or cushion tiles.
It is unlikely that a British home can be condensation free, however by keeping your property properly maintained and thinking about your lifestyle and decoration, you should be able to live with condensation without it ruining your life.
• The National House Building Council publishes a guidance note on condensation in the home. Download from: http://www.nhbc.co.uk/NHBCPublications/LiteratureLibrary/
• The National House Building Council also gives advice on how to deal with condensation in new homes in its publication a Guide to Your New Home. Download from: http://www.nhbc.co.uk/Homeowners/Problemswithyourhome/
NB: Some of the improvements described above may need permission from your managing agent or freeholder, or in some cases your local council (e.g. if the building is listed). You should check, in the first instance, with your managing agent before doing anything.
Association of Residential Managing Agents Limited (ARMA) 178 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 4ND Tel: 020 7978 2607 Fax: 020 7498 6153 Email: email@example.com
Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this Lessee Advisory Note, it must be emphasised that because the Association has no control over the precise circumstances in which it will be used, the Association, its officers, employees and members can accept no liability arising out of its use, whether by members of the Association or otherwise. The
Lessee Advisory Note is of a general nature only and makes no attempt to state or conform to legal requirements; compliance with these must be the individual user’s own
responsibility and therefore it may be appropriate to seek independent advice.
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