Condensation is a major problem in many homes. Condensation can cause damp and mould which can lead to respiratory health problems. The information on this page explains the cause of condensation and how to deal with it.

What is condensation?

Condensation is created when warm moist air begins to cool down and the moisture is released. This moisture then settles on cold surfaces making them damp. This can happen quickly when warm moisture in the air connects with cold air or surfaces, such as having a shower and the steam from the shower hits the cold window or mirror making it wet to touch, this is condensation.

Condensation can travel through your home and is drawn to areas such as:

  • Windows
  • Cold walls
  • Behind furniture where there is poor circulation of air
  • Even on clothes

How to prevent condensation

To prevent condensation you need to create less moisture and help circulate the air in your home.

Things that can cause warm moisture in the air:

  • Cooking
  • Kettle
  • Shower/bath
  • Washing and drying clothes
  • Heating systems
  • Breathing
  • Gas or paraffin heaters
  • Winter weather making the fabric of the building cold and causing windows to be opened less

Things you can do to prevent condensation.

While cooking

  • Close the kitchen door
  • Turn on the extractor fan if you have one
  • Open a window
  • Put lids on pots

When showering/bathing

  • Close the bathroom door
  • Turn on the fan or open a window

Clothes

  • Dry clothes outside when you can
  • When drying indoors, dry in a room with the door closed and window open
  • If tumble drying put the vent outdoors

Windows

  • Keep trickle vents open on the window especially the rooms you spend most time in
  • Wipe down windows and window cills regularly
  • Open windows on a daily basis to allow moist air to escape
  • Open blinds and curtains at times to circulate the air around them, when closing them at night do not cover radiators

Furniture

  • Leave space around furniture so the air can circulate, preferably about 6 inches
  • If placing furniture against a wall place it on an inner wall instead of an outside wall
  • Do not put furniture in front of radiators as they absorb the heat

Other things that can help

  • Wipe down areas where the water has settled
  • Draughtproof doors (but not the kitchen door, bathroom door or a room with a gas fire)
  • Try to keep the temperature in your home at a constant level so it doesn’t get too hot or too cold
  • If you have a gas or paraffin heater think of using an alternative as these cause a lot of moisture
  • Insulate you property, if you think your home isn’t insulated please contact programmes.resources@falkirk.gov.uk

What to do if condensations causes mould

If the damp areas caused by condensation begin to show mould then you should do the following:

  • Clean the affected area with a fungicidal wash, one that has the Health and Safety Executive ‘approved’ number on it
  • If on a wall or ceiling, once the area is dry, paint over with a fungicidal paint or use a wallpaper paste containing fungicide.
  • Dry clean affected clothes
  • Shampoo carpets and furniture
  • If a particular room is affected a humidistat controlled electric fan can be good, it comes on automatically when the air becomes humid

How to tell if mould is caused by condensation or other reasons

Leaking pipes, wastes, overflows, tiles missing in roof etc. can also cause damp and mould. Some ways to tell the difference between mould caused by condensation or caused by other reasons are

Condensation

  • Areas have surface water which you can feel by touch like steam on a window
  • Peeling décor
  • Damage to furniture or clothes
  • Black spotting
  • Musty smell

Other reasons

  • Damp areas on walls look fairly even with a line around it (looks a bit like a tidemark)
  • Damp seems to rise from floor boards up the walls
  • Damp surrounds an area around a pipe e.g. under a sink

Heating your home

One of the main causes of condensation is not heating your property correctly and poor ventilation. Rather than keeping your heating off and turning it up high when it gets really cold it is better to keep your heating at a constant level throughout the day. For example keep the thermostat between 18-21°C when you are in (depending on your comfort level) and about 5-10°C when you are in bed or out. Another way is to put your heating on as it just begins to get cold or on a timer. This way it warms the surfaces in your home slowly and avoids hot air hitting cold surfaces.

If you get a letter about insulating your property or upgrading your heating system please respond as advised or contact us to discuss at programmes.resources@falkirk.gov.uk. An insulated property or more efficient heating system helps reduce condensation and keeps energy costs down.

To help with the cost of those winter bills make sure your utility payments are up to date and you always provide a meter reading when an estimate is used.

Winter fuel payment

If you were born on or before 5 November 1953 you could get between £100 and £300 to help towards paying your heating bills. To find out if you fully qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment phone 0800 731 0160 or go online at www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

We also have more information available

Warm Home Discount Scheme

If you are on a low income or get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit you may be entitled to a one off payment of £140 paid to your energy bill between September and March. To find out if you qualify or for more information phone 0800 731 0214 or go online at www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment

We also have more information available

The Energy Saving Trust also has a handy video on dealing with condensation.


Downloads

Condensation in your home