How Can I Stop Condensation This Winter?

Last updated: May 25, 2018

How Can I Stop Condensation This Winter?

How Can I Stop Condensation?

It might only be autumn but – thanks to global warming – it actually feels a little more like winter.

That may not make any sense at all when you look at it again, but my point is that I’m pretty sure it’s colder right now than it usually is at this time of year.

And as it’s gotten a little chillier, there’s a good chance you’ve put on your central heating, turned it up to 11 and perhaps started to notice a little condensation on your windows.

If you have, don’t panic!

Condensation is pretty normal at this time of year, so I thought I’d put together this handy guide on how to prevent it and help you to avoid mopping up water and forking out cash on unwanted repair costs.

This is the BestHeating Guide to preventing winter condensation.

When & Why Does Condensation Occur?

 

Condensation is a common problem in all types of homes.

From new builds and period properties to terraced houses, detached homes and everywhere in between, condensation can make a big impact if left unchecked, but what and why does it occur?

condensation on a window

Condensation will arise when warmer air collides with any cold surface, or if there is a high level of humidity in your home.

Breathe out on to virtually any window anywhere in the world and your warm breath will cause condensation to appear on the glass.

It’s a problem that is seen frequently in the colder months when you use your central heating because of the colder mornings and evenings.

But it’s not just your heating that can cause condensation.

Cooking, showering and drying clothes indoors can all release warm, moist air into your home and have an effect on the levels of condensation.

Any moisture-rich air from radiators, showering or drying clothes will cool down quickly and form drops of water whenever it comes into contact with a chilly surface like a window or an external wall.

In summer, this problem is usually confined to the bathroom – it’s what makes your mirror steam up when you shower – but when the temperature drops in winter and we turn up our heating and keep most of our windows closed, humidity increases and condensation can begin to form on windows and walls.

mold spores growing on a window

A little water here and there isn’t really a big issue, but if condensation isn’t dealt with right away it can lead to black mould beginning to grow on walls, ceilings and windows and that’s when your problems can get a little more serious.

Not only is black mouldy gunk not much to look at, it also brings with it a range of potential health risks including sinus problems, skin rashes and in more extreme cases, bronchitis or worse.

So it’s important to be on the ball and do what you can to prevent condensation becoming an issue in your home.

How Do I Stop Condensation In My Home?

 

A key step in preventing condensation from becoming a problem in your home is to reduce the amount of indoor humidity.

In any domestic building, a few simple lifestyle changes will help to eradicate condensation and lower humidity – providing a less expensive solution than splashing the cash on dehumidifiers or a snazzy ventilation system.

That said, if you have a really persistent condensation problem that you’re trying to put an end to, you may have to spend a bit of money to get the job done.

Here’s a list of 7 simple tips on preventing and putting an end to condensation throughout your property.

Tip 1 – Vent Your Washing Machine & Tumble Dryer

 

If you have a washer/dryer or tumble dryer in your home, ensure that it’s vented correctly.

washing falling out of a washing machine
The average load of washing will emit two litres of water into the air, so it’s important to keep the space well ventilated to avoid condensation.

Even using a condenser dryer will create a fair amount of moisture, so be sure to open a window when you’re using one of those too.

Tip 2 – Dry Clothes Outside If You Can

 

Obviously, winter is not really the ideal time to dry your clothes outside, but when it’s possible you should try to get them dry outdoors to prevent excess moisture from building up inside.

frozen pegs on a clothes line outside in winter

If it’s too cold to even consider drying clothes outside, open the window in the bathroom and dry them in there with the window open.

As we’ve discussed before, drying clothes on your radiators is not the best idea if you’re trying to avoid excess moisture and higher humidity.

Tip 3 – Put A Lid On It & Close That Door

 

When you’re cooking, try and keep the door to your kitchen closed and cover any pans to prevent excess moisture from escaping to other areas of the house.

steam rising from a cooking pot on a cooker hob in a kitchen

If you have an extractor hood, make sure you use it and leave it running for a good 10-15 minutes after you’ve finished cooking up a storm, because moisture will still be in the air for a good time afterwards.

If you don’t have an extractor hood, you can get one for anywhere between £40 and £100 and will probably need an electrician to install it, so keep that cost in mind too.

Tip 4 – Be A Fan Of Your Fan

 

As with your kitchen when you’re cooking, be sure to turn your extractor fan on when you have a bath or a shower.

the word steam written in condensation

Doing this will help to remove the steam and moisture that is created when running hot water in a cold environment and dramatically reduce the amount of condensation on walls and windows.

Tip 5 – No Fan? Get Busy With A Cloth

 

If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen – and you aren’t in a financial position to add one in anytime soon – get a cloth and be sure to wipe away any moisture that has settled on walls, windows and window sills.

mould on a window pane

Regardless of whether you have single, double or even triple glazing, ensuring that you wipe down surfaces that have become wet with condensation will help to prolong the life of the space and prevent any excess moisture from turning into mould.

In some instances, prevention is often better than cure.

Tip 6 – Keep Furniture Away From The Wall

 

Now, I’m not suggesting that you channel the spirit of rock star Keith Moon and throw your sofa out of the window, but keeping it at a good distance from your wall – particularly external walls – will help to circulate air and prevent moisture building up.

a sofa being thrown out of a window

And it’s not just sofas that you need to keep away from walls. Try to ensure that wardrobes and chests of drawers also maintain a good distance from external walls as this is less likely to lead to damp and mould problems, preventing damage to clothes and linen.

Tip 7 – Ventilate & Ventilate Again

 

Chances are that you haven’t even thought about it (ever) but just breathing in and out can cause a huge amount of condensation.

a girl blowing out air and it turning into steam in the cold

If you tend to spend more time in one room of your home more than anywhere else and it’s not too cold outside, open a window to improve the ventilation in there and minimise the impact you just being alive has on your home.

DID YOU KNOW? – Four people living in a three bedroom property will create 112 pints of moisture every week through breathing, cooking, showering and boiling the kettle.

Is There A Long-Term Solution To Problem Condensation?

 

As I have written above, when it comes to issues with condensation, prevention is much easier to achieve than cure.

Short of stopping breathing altogether, not cooking, bathing and showering or washing any clothes, you are always going to have some sort of a condensation build-up wherever you are.

To reduce it and prevent the problem from taking a hold, investing wisely in both ventilation and insulation is key to a great success.

During the colder months it is ridiculously impractical to keep your windows open all of the time – and a serious security risk too – so it is definitely worth installing an extractor fan in your kitchen, bathroom or ensuite if you haven’t already got one.

A kettle steaming at the water inside boils

It’s a great idea to install a smaller extractor fan on an external wall and have it running when you do the washing, or even going as far as switching it on when you boil the kettle.

An extractor fan in your bathroom or ensuite should be running whenever you take a bath, have a shower or even when you have a shave (ladies that means you too).

If the room is still steamy when you’ve finished in there, leave the fan running for a good few minutes after and be sure to close the door, confining the steam and condensation to that room alone.

How Can I Tell If I Have A Problem With Humidity?

 

There is a selection of tools on the market that can monitor the level of moisture and humidity in your home.

Humidistats – or hygrometers – will give you a reading of a room’s humidity level and you will probably find something like one of those built-in to a dehumidifier.

But there is a quick and simple test that you can do to tell if you have a problem with moist air – and it won’t cost you a pretty penny either.

Simply place a small mirror in your fridge (yes that does sound daft, but stick with us), leave it until it gets cold – half an hour or so should do it – and then take it into the room you’d like to check.

If there’s a lot of misting in on the mirror, this is an indication that there is a very high moisture content in the air and you should ventilate.

What Is The Recommended Humidity Level For My Home?

 

Digital humidity gauge on a table with a book open

Just like with pretty much everything else in the annals of human history, people have their own personal preferences when it comes to the levels of humidity in their homes and what they are comfortable with.

Ideally, what you should be looking to achieve is somewhere between 35-to-50% humidity, to maintain comfort and to protect against the growth of microorganisms that can cause health problems.

Excess levels of moisture can quickly begin to cause damage to your home and your health, promoting the growth and spread of mould, mildew, bacteria and even viruses.

High humidity can make a home feel muggy and when levels reach a particular point asthma and allergy sufferers may begin to experience worse or considerably more frequent symptoms.

But it’s not just high humidity that can be an issue; low levels can also prove to be problematic.

So how do you achieve the optimum humidity level in your home?

If Humidity Is Too Low

 

During the winter, humidity levels naturally drop because cold air holds less moisture than warm air.

Low humidity causes static electricity, can contribute to dry skin and hair and increase your susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.

static electricity between two fingers and thumbs

Wooden floors and furniture can even split and crack, paint can chip and some electronic items can be damaged beyond repair.

Increasing humidity in a room can be really easy and quite inexpensive; for example, you could simply place a jug or a bowl of water on a radiator or somewhere nearby and this will introduce moisture into the air via evaporation.

This is a pretty ‘low-tech’ way of increasing humidity and the control over the level is virtually non-existent, but it will work as a temporary solution.

Alternatively, you could opt for a portable humidifier. These come in cool or warm mist and use fans and heat to disperse humidity into the air.

They’re easy to use and come in a variety of styles and prices to suit – however, control is again an issue and they will still need to be filled on a regular basis.

 

If Humidity Is Too High

 

Monica Geller with frizzy hair

As I mentioned above, there are a few things you can do to combat high levels of humidity.

High levels of humidity won’t typically occur in older homes because they have a way of naturally dispersing moisture throughout the building because they are less airtight than more modern properties.

Newer, more tightly constructed buildings with double glazing, loft insulation and cavity wall will hold on to moisture much more, so being sure to ventilate will help to reduce the issue.

So just to cover the above tips again and refresh your memory –
– Vent your washing machine & tumble dryer
– Dry clothes outside if you can
– Cook with lids
– Open windows in the bathroom and keep the door closed when you bath or shower
– Make proper use of your extractor fans
– Keep furniture at least a few millimetres away from walls
– Wipe down wet surfaces when you can

And a few additional tips on dealing with condensation – that have been assured are worth doing by the chap that sits next to me here at BestHeating.
– Don’t overfill cupboards with clothes
– Vent those same cupboards regularly
– Try and keep the heat in your home as balanced as you can

How Do You Deal With Condensation?

 

Is there a particular way that you like to deal with problem condensation in your home?

What tips and advice would you give to someone suffering from excess humidity?

Let us know in the comments below and for a great piece of advice to take away with you, why not download this great little guide from The Property Care Association (PCA) about how to combat the problem?

Stay Safe & Happy Heating