Condensation, what is it and how does it happen?
This occurs when warm moist air comes in contact with cold surfaces such as walls and windows. On windows, it’s quite apparent as windows are usually colder than walls. However, condensation does occur on walls if the property is not ventilated correctly. This constant dampness can cause the plaster to delaminate off the walls and lead to Wet and Dry Rot.
I find condensation is at its worst in some older terraced properties where the tenants and the families simply do not ‘manage’ the house properly.
In one house that I had owned for a number of years, I never had any real damp problems. A couple moved in and after a few months they started to complain about a light green mould appearing on the side of a wardrobe and dark patches on the walls at a high level where the wall meets the ceiling, particularly in the corners of the rooms. But the main issue was water on the bathroom window which was streaming down and the window cill had puddles of water on it.
These symptoms are typical of condensation. I arranged to visit them and I could feel the dampness in the air, the heating wasn’t on even though it was November, they showed me the black patches and the puddles of water on the bathroom cill. I couldn’t understand where all the moisture was coming from, if there was a leak on the roof or rising damp, this would increase the moisture content in the house, but there was no evidence of this.
I noticed all the windows were closed. I told them that they needed to open the windows if only a few millimetres and put the heating on.
A week or so later they called me again, and I returned to the house, and all became apparent. When I arrived they had all their washing hanging on one of those pull outlines which was extended across the landing. I hadn’t noticed it before because when not in use it retracts to the wall. There were towels literally dripping. They hadn’t been spun enough in the washing machine and on the floor in the bathroom the guy’s jeans were soaking in a large plastic bin.
The problem is, that amount of moisture in a house, not being ventilated or heated, will over a short period of time cause problems with the plaster. Some of the wallpaper had started to peel off the walls and this may lead to other Wet and Dry Rot issues.
I often find that in October and November, I may get a call from tenants saying that all of a sudden they have symptoms of condensation, which they simply refer to as damp. It can happen when the weather changes and there is heavy rain.
There’s more on Condensation in my next blog…
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Thanks for reading.