Hello, let me take a moment to introduce myself I am Paul McSkimmings, Principal of Edward Watson Associates Chartered Surveyors and welcome to my column!
In my regular column I will be writing about a topic that is close to everyone’s heart – your home. ‘Home is where the heart is’ rings true, for a lot of us our home is our safe haven.
In my column I will be giving pointers and information about how to care for the structure of your home and talk about property maintenance issues. Anything from cavity wall tie corrosion, damp problems and even insects nests!
This column will focus on condensation. There is more than one type of condensation, however surface condensation, is most common in homes today.
During September to May (condensation season) we have the heating on more, the windows don’t get opened as often and we sometimes dry clothes on the radiators (be honest how many of us have done this?). These conditions are perfect for surface condensation to occur.
Warm air is able to hold moisture, however when the temperature of the air drops below a certain level, called the ‘dew point’, it can no longer retain moisture. When the moisture comes into contact with a cold surface, for example walls and windows, it turns into a liquid.
Condensation can occur in cold spots, such as an unheated spare bedroom and not necessarily in the room where the moisture is produced. This is due to the flow of air around the house.
The black mould we are all familiar with is a result of condensation occurring, and to avoid the mould we need to avoid the condensation process.
So a few pointers to avoid condensation in the first place would be:
1. Keep your heating on constant, at around 18ºc – this is more efficient than say putting the heating on for an hour in the morning and when you get home at night. It keeps the fabric of the building at a constant even temperature.
2. Try not to dry clothes on the radiators, hard I know but this releases extra moisture into the air.
3. When cooking on the hob, try to remember to open a window, or use your extractor fan, so that the warm moist air has a chance to leave the house.
4. Keep windows open, most windows will allow you to lock them leaving a small gap in the frame or you may have air vents fitted at the top of the frame. This allows air to circulate through your home and keep the moisture in the air moving so that it doesn’t get a chance to settle on walls or windows.
5. When taking a bath or a shower, or when bathing the children, always remember to close the bathroom door and open the window.
If you do have black mould, due to condensation, you can always treat it with an anti fungal wash, or using a mixture containing 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. But be warned if you don’t follow the tips above it will come back!