The giant leap we’ve all taken (well, those of you who are lucky enough not to live in leaky old cottages!) in making our homes draughtproof over the last 15 years has led to a rise in condensation.
So those of you reading this blog might be tuning in because you’ve got water running down the inside of your windows this winter. You’ve possibly also got black spot mould in difficult to reach, unheated areas of your house.
Condensation happens when air that has become saturated with moisture comes into contact with a cold surface – eg window panes or an external wall. There are some simple, DIY ways to lower the level of condensation in your home, and some slightly more sophisticated (dare I say it expensive) solutions (PIV or positive input ventilation systems) that I will come to later in the blog.
3 DIY Steps to reducing condensation in your home
- Reduce moisture in the air,
- Provide decent ventilation; and
- Turn the heating up.
Cooking and boiling kettles, bathing and showering, and drying clothes inside are the obvious ways we inadvertently pump litres and litres of moisture into the air in our homes on a daily basis.
The above steps are pretty obvious, but I bet you (like I before I started researching this blog/ vlog) don’t do half the things you could so easily do, to keep condensation down in your home.
When you’re cooking in the kitchen, close all doors connecting the kitchen to the rest of the house, turn on your cooker extractor hood, and open a window as this makes the hood’s extraction much more effective. Cover saucepans with lids, and switch off your kettle just before it boils – rather than leaving it to billow steam into the room until it finally switches off automatically. I also pour cold water into the kettle straight after using it – that way it stops the remaining steam leaving the kettle and gets it ready for your next cupper later in the day!
Do use your tumble drier, ensuring this ventilates straight outside or is a condenser drier. Don’t simply hang your clothes on a drying rack, as all the water that evaporates off your clothes will go into the air, soon to be deposited as thick condensation all over your windows!!
You’ll get a lot of condensation in the bathroom – especially on external walls, cold tiled surfaces and of course the windows. A heated towel rail and/or radiator can help by raising the temperature in the room, although this will also help increase condensation as most of us hang our wet towels on the radiator to dry, after our bath or shower! So this being the case it’s really important to keep your bathroom well ventilated.
If you can bare it, open the window when you shower or bath as this will let out a huge percentage of the steam that you’re generating. In our new bathroom, the entire family is actually in the habit of doing this now, and our son actually takes pride in keeping the bathroom condensation free, bless him – so it is possible, and when you’re standing under a nice warm shower you really don’t notice the window’s open, so give it a go!
Again, as with the kitchen, keep the bathroom door shut when you’re using it, that way the steam generated won’t spread to the rest of your house.
Install a decent extractor fan, and turn the in-built timer switch if you have one to the maximum time, so that the fan keeps working hard to remove moisture from the air long after you’ve left the room. I bought an Enviro-vent Silent 100 fan for our new bathroom as I was very impressed with the online reviews. I have to say though that the humid-stat on it wasn’t nearly effective enough (it just didn’t kick in as often as I would have liked) so I rewired it to turn on whenever the bathroom light is switched on. I’ve set the timer to the maximum so when the light is switched off it continues for 20minutes or so.
As condensation forms on cold walls, if you dry line your existing walls, preferably with an insulation board behind, you will reduce the risk of condensation forming.
The same goes for double glazing. As you’ll see from the above video, my cottage has a mix of double glazed windows (not argon filled as I couldn’t afford these) and 1970s single glazed leaded windows. The difference as we gradually replace the single glazed windows with double glazing has been extraordinary.
I’ve got to admit we do still get small beads of condensation along the bottom edge of the double glazed panes, but nothing compared to what we get on our single glazed windows.
If these are unheated, keep the door shut, so that damp air doesn’t get in from other parts of the house.
PIV (positive input ventilation) Systems
For a total, belt and braces solution, in addition to taking the above steps you might consider installing a PIV system if you’re struggling to tackle your condensation problem.
A friend got me onto this recently when he mentioned he had installed a Nuaire PIV system in his house. Positive input ventilation systems ventilate your entire property with one single fan – which either ventilates straight outside (appropriate if you live in a flat) or alternatively into the loft space. To quote Nuaire’s website, “Positive Input Ventilation gently supplies fresh filtered air into a property, ensuring that the moisture laden air is continuously diluted, displaced and replaced with good quality air”.
Removal of Condensation
The way you remove the condensation that has formed on your windows is also incredibly important. The worst thing you can do is to mop it off with a towel and then put the towel on the radiator because then all you’re doing is reintroducing the moisture back into the air for it to wreak its havoc on your windows the following night!
By all means use a cloth as you can effectively remove the moisture by wringing it out into the sink. A quicker and more effective solution though is to use a squeegee – which you can get from any DIY or homeware store, or better still a window vacuum.
I borrowed one of these from a friend to do my video and I was amazed how effective it was. Even though the squeegee was wider than the leaded panels, it sucked away all the condensation leaving the glass immediately bone dry!
Depending on which one you get, it will set you back about £50, but I would say this is a great investment considering how quickly and effectively it removes all your condensation, and who knows, it’s such fun using this little tool you may even manage to persuade your children to do it as a bit of a treat!