Condensation advice

This article will explain what condensation is and the precautionary measures to take in order to avoid damp and mould in your housing.

How can I recognise condensation?

  • Condensation typically occurs in places where there is little air movement, such as in corners, behind large pieces of furniture and often in wardrobes. It often appears around windows and on walls.
  • Other forms of damp such as rising damp and leaks from plumbing, or through the structure, often leave ‘tidemarks’. Condensation does not leave a ‘tidemark’.
  • Condensation is often accompanied by mould growth. Mould can also accompany dampness caused by leaks but rarely with rising dampness.
  • If it is cold, and the dampness appears in the areas previously listed, then there is a good chance that it is condensation.

How to avoid condensation?

Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of water very quickly, for example cooking and washing/drying clothes. Some simple suggestions to help reduce moisture:

  • Cover pots and pans when cooking and do not leave kettles boiling.
  • Washing and drying clothes - dry washing outside if possible. If drying washing indoors is unavoidable, then dry it in a closed, heated and well ventilated room, such as a bathroom.
  • If there is an extractor fan fitted (in the bathroom or in your kitchen), use it.
  • If you use a tumble dryer, then make sure it is ventilated directly to the outside air. Venting kits are available for many popular brands of dryer. Avoid tumble dryers that vent directly into the room.
  • You can ventilate without making draughts - in occupied rooms, some ventilation is needed all of the time. Keep a small window ajar or a trickle vent open.
  • Kitchens and bathrooms need more ventilation when you cook, wash up, have a bath/shower or dry clothes. You will need to open windows wider and use extractor fans, if fitted.
  • Do not cover air bricks or other permanent ventilators. These are often strategically placed to ventilate vulnerable areas.
  • Do not push furniture right up against the walls. Leave at least 1-2 inches between the item and the wall as this will allow air to circulate, therefore condensation cannot settle and mould will not grow!
  • The best way to keep rooms warm enough to avoid condensation is to keep low background heat on a timer throughout the morning and evening (perhaps the afternoon if it’s very cold), even if you are out. This will allow the structure of the building to warm up as well as the air, especially if you live in a Victorian terraced house which are very old.
  • Short bursts of heat will only warm up the air, leaving surfaces cold – an ideal recipe for condensation.

How do I deal with condensation if it appears?

  • Wipe down windows and sills when condensation appears on them.
  • Wring out the cloth rather than drying it on a radiator or in front of a heater.
  • Fit condensation channels or sponge strips to windows to collect the condensation. These inexpensive items can be purchased from most DIY shops. Care must be taken to fit these properly.

What is my landlord responsible for?

  • As the law stands, your landlord can only be held liable for condensation that has been caused by disrepair to existing items that he or she is obliged to repair…
  • These should be listed in your tenancy agreement, but as a minimum, these will be: the structure and exterior of the building, the services for the supply of water, gas and electricity, the installations for the disposal of waste and foul water, and the installations for space and water heating.