Why Does Condensation Get Worse in Winter?
23 November 2021
Condensation is one of the leading causes of damp and black mould in properties in the UK, and it seems that every year through winter and autumn when the weather is colder a greater number of people get in touch with us to report problems with condensation in their properties.
So, why is that condensation gets worse in winter, and what can be done to control the problem? Hopefully, we answer your questions and provide some solutions here.
Why Is Condensation Worse in Colder Months?
The main reason that condensation is made worse in winter and colder months of the year is because the amount of heat and moisture present within a home is often far greater than it is during summer, combined with the fact that the temperature outside a property is much cooler.
The reason that the cool air outside a property can have an effect on condensation is because the cold temperature outside makes your properties walls and windows colder by its very nature. Now, condensation is formed when the warm air containing moisture comes into contact with a cooler temperature, causing the gaseous moisture contained in the air to revert back to a liquid state.
So, for example, let’s say you have nice warm air in your property on a day where there is heavy snowfall outside. That warm air within your property is going to be laden with moisture, and thanks to the difference in pressure between the inside of your property and outside that moist warm air is going to be drawn outside.
On contact with a window (for example), which will naturally be cooler thanks to its exposure to the outside world, that warm air is going to rapidly decrease in temperature, which causes the gaseous moisture to switch back into a liquid state – usually dewing on the window itself.
That’s how condensation is made, and the process isn’t limited to windows either. Any surface cooler than the temperature of the air within your property is going to cause the moisture in the air itself to cool, hit its dew point (the temperature at which the gaseous moisture reverts back to its liquid form) and cause condensation.
You can now probably guess as to why condensation is worse in winter months then – with the general temperature being much lower than in the likes of summer or spring, and the heating in a property being used much more frequently there is a much higher probability of hot air coming into contact with a cold surface and creating condensation.
What Can Condensation Lead To?
We have talked a lot about how condensation is formed, and how the issue can be a lot more prevalent in the colder months, but what are the implications and ramifications of having condensation in your home?
The first and most potentially damaging to your property is the onset of damp. Condensation is one of the leading causes of damp in properties throughout England, Scotland and Wales, and it’s all caused by the behaviour and actions of those who live in the property itself.
Damp sets in when there is a constant and recurring presence of moisture in a wall or other surface, and it has a number of different side effects. From an aesthetic standpoint, you are going to find that your wallpaper, your plasterboard, your paint – basically any decorative material applied to your wall is going to be ruined.
The damp can crack paint, cause wallpaper to peel and harden, and make plaster unusable. This means that as an effective part of treatment you are going to have to redecorate and re-apply your different decorations on the wall.
Not only that, but the damp can damage the interior of your walls as well, compromising the strength and integrity of your masonry, damaging pointing (allowing for further damp to set in) and potentially putting the health of your walls at risk. All of this is of course very bad for your properties health, but damp can lead to some health problems for the occupants as well.
This is because having dampness on walls provides the perfect breeding ground for black mould. Black mould is a fungus that thrives in moist environments, and spreads through spores travelling through the air.
So, if your property has a constant condensation issue, only made worse in winter, you could see a tiny patch of black mould spread and cover your walls. Black mould isn’t just a decorative destroying eyesore either – it can have a real impact on your physical health.
So, with all this in mind, what are some ways that you can combat condensation in the colder months, and keep condensation to a minimum during winter?
How to Minimise Condensation in Winter?
The very first thing to consider when it comes to alleviating condensation issues in your home is ventilation. Allowing for additional ventilation in your home, especially in areas where warm air is allowed to build up, is crucial in the reduction of condensation.
Using an Extractor Fan
Something like an extractor fan being installed in the walls of your property is more than capable of bearing a significant brunt of condensation alleviation.
In your kitchen or bathroom for example, where lots of steam is created regularly, an extractor fan is a brilliant way of getting that humid air out of your property quickly before it’s given the chance to settle within your property.
You might also want to look into the possibility of a steady temperature in your property, rather than having the temperature in flux throughout the day. Keeping your property at a steady temperature helps your building keep a steady ambient temperature and encourage the alleviation of condensation.
This could be as simple as leaving the heating on low when you have left your property in the morning, or having your heating on through the night instead of letting different rooms cool completely.
If you incorporate a steady temperature in your property alongside adequate ventilation you have already gone a long way to reduce the build up of condensation in your property.
You could always go the extra mile though, and look into the different options presented by insulation. Insulation is installed with the primary objective of keeping a steady temperature on your property. This means that not only will you have an easier time keeping your home warm in winter, but also keeping it cooler during the summer.
So, if your property has insulation you can depend a bit more readily on the notion of your properties walls being a higher temperature than outdoors as well. This means that when the warm humid air comes into contact with your interior walls, it won’t reach a dew point and bead, causing condensation.
You may well have to consider the possibility of interstitial condensation, but realistically insulation combined with adequate ventilation and ambient temperatures will be intensely helpful in reducing condensation during the winter.
Making Lifestyle Changes
Then you have to consider your own everyday habits.
Actions such as drying your washing indoors without adequate ventilation, cooking without lids on pots of boiling water, long showers at high temperatures and the like all create an excess of steam and warm air, that generally contribute a lot in terms of properties developing condensation based damp.
How We Can Help?
If you are wondering how your own actions can help reduce condensation build up, and are interested in what other ventilation measures might help your property fend off the onset of condensation, then talk to our team about a condensation survey today.
We cannot only help you to find the source of the damp causing condensation in your property, but also recommend a course of action to help reduce the condensation in your home and to restore your property to a healthy and sturdy state. Call 0800 288 8660 or get in touch online to book your condensation survey today.