Condensation happens in all homes when warm air meets a cold surface and tiny droplets of water develop. The more moisture there is in the air, the more water is likely to be produced.

It tends to be more noticeable in winter when surfaces are colder and most homes have less ventilation.

Condensation can be caused by cooking, showering/bathing, drying clothes indoors and even by breathing. Water droplets can form on indoor surfaces such as mirrors, windows, windowsills and it can also affect walls.

In the home, condensation often happens because warm damp air from kitchens and bathrooms moves to cooler areas, such as bedrooms. Typical examples include corners, near windows and in or behind wardrobes or cupboards. Condensation will be worse if rooms are poorly ventilated and the surfaces are cold. The key is to allow the moisture out.

Signs of Condensation

  • Dampness occurring in winter rather than summer.
  • Damp and black mould in corners of rooms, behind furniture and in cupboards.
  • Walls, ceilings and cold surfaces, such as cold water pipes ”sweat” with moisture.
  • Water appears on the inside of windows.
  • Outside walls are affected rather than walls in between rooms.
  • Clothes in wardrobes or cupboards have a musty smell and mildew on them.

Treating Mould

  • Treat and remove the mould before redecorating. Use products such as fungicidal products available from DIY stores.
  • Use a stain block or sealer to help stop moulds coming back.
  • If you are decorating a room affected by mould, it is best to remove the wallpaper and instead use a good quality and suitable paint.

Preventing Condensation

Reducing steam and moisture

  • When cooking, cover pans with lids and keep the kitchen door closed to stop wet air from circulating around your home. Make sure a window is open or the extractor fan is on.
  • If you use a tumble dryer make sure it is vented so that the hot moist air escapes to the outside.
  • If you have to dry clothes indoors put them in a room and close the door, leaving the window open or fan on.
  • One tip to reduce condensation is to run cold water into the bath first and then run the hot water. This creates much less steam.

Ventilating your home

  • It’s important to allow plenty of fresh air into your home to stop the air indoors becoming stale and humid.
  • Open bedroom windows for 15 minutes each morning and always keep air vents open.
  • After you’ve had a bath or shower, open the bathroom window until the steam has cleared or use the extractor fan.
  • When cooking, make sure the kitchen door is closed and either the extractor fan is on or window is open.
Heating your home

  • Heat all rooms even when they are not being used. Select the appropriate temperature by using the thermostatic valves on radiators as this will give greater control.
  • Use the thermostat to set a comfortable temperature (around 18C to 21C).
  • Do not place furniture in front of radiators, as this will stop them from heating the room. Never dry clothes on radiators.
  • Never use portable gas heaters because not only is it against PFH rules, they also produce a lot of moisture.

Extractor Fans

  • Extractor fans should always be used whenever you are cooking or bathing. After you’ve finished in the bathroom or kitchen, leave the fan on for about 20 minutes to make sure all the steam has cleared.
  • When using an extractor fan, keep the windows in the room closed. If a window is open the fan will draw air from the outside, rather than drawing the damp air out of the room. Make sure fans are not obstructed.
  • Some fans operate automatically and turn on and off according to the amount of moisture in the air. Please DO NOT turn these off at the power switch as they are designed to work when they are needed.

Looking after your home

  • Remove mould growth by using a mould and mildew cleaning product (available from most supermarkets and DIY stores). Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Wipe down the inside of windows if they become wet with condensation.
  • Try not to place beds and wardrobes tightly against outside walls as mould is more likely to grow behind your furniture, where the air cannot circulate.

Repairs and Inspections

In most cases, if the steps in the leaflet are followed, you will be able to keep condensation under control and it will not be necessary to carry out repairs.

PFH will consider carrying out works if;

  • Residents have followed the precautions set out in this leaflet and very bad condensation and mould growth persists.
  • Extractor fans are turning on and off less often than they should.
  • There is widespread mould growth in a bedroom or living room.

PFH will not carry out works on small areas of mould.