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 when the weather gets colder during autumn and winter, a greater number of people contact 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 worse in winter and the 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, as well as the fact that the temperature outside your property is much cooler.
The cold air outside of your home has a very real impact and effect on the level of condensation in your home. This is because the cold makes your property’s walls and windows colder, and condensation is formed when the warm air inside your home that contains moisture comes into contact with cooler temperatures, meaning that the gaseous moisture contained in your properties warm air reverts back to a liquid state when it comes into contact with those cool windows and walls.
So, for example, let’s say you have some nice warm air being generated inside your property on a day where there is heavy snowfall outside. That warm air is going to be laden with moisture, and thanks to the difference in pressure between the inside and outside of your property 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 warm 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; 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’ve 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 ramifications of having higher levels of 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 mainly 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. Purely from a visual standpoint, you are going to find that your wallpaper, your plasterboard, your paint, or basically any decorative material applied to your wall is going to be ruined.
Damp can crack paint, cause wallpaper to peel and harden, and make plaster unusable. This means that a crucial part of condensation treatment is going to be redecorating, replacing, and re-applying all of the different decorative elements to your walls as needed.
Damp can also damage the interior of your walls, 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, obviously, very bad for your properties health, but it’s crucial to know that damp can lead to some health problems for the people living in the building as well.
These health problems might arise because having damp in your walls provides the perfect breeding ground for black mould. Black mould is a fungus that thrives in moist environments, and spreads through its spores travelling through the air.
So, if your property has a constant condensation issue which will only be made worse by cold weather in winter, you could see what was once 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.