A Students Guide To Condensation
One of the most common problems in student rented accommodation is condensation and damp.
Damp and mould can cause damage to the fabric and fittings of the property meaning it could affect your deposit at the end of the tenancy. If the damp is caused by condensation and the property has adequate ventilation, then as a tenant, you will be responsible. Typically students have come from a well insulated and heated property and have not needed to think about condensation and ventilation. This is why we have created this useful guide.
What is it?
The first thing you need to do is establish the cause of the damp. Condensation is by far the most common cause of dampness. During the warm weather, this is rarely a problem due to the warm air absorbing the water vapour. However, in the colder months, condensation can become more of a problem.
Condensation occurs when warm air is full of moisture and comes into contact with a colder surface like a wall, mirror or window. The warm air is unable to retain the same amount of moisture and the water is then released onto the cold surface. It also occurs in places of the room where air is still such as corners of rooms and behind your furniture. This occurs from everyday activities like cooking, showering and drying clothes which creates moisture in the home.
You will notice very quickly if you have condensation in your property. You will see signs of streaming windows, wet walls, signs of mould growth etc.
If condensation is not dealt with, this can quickly be followed by mould. Severe mould growth can make asthma and other respiratory illness' worse due to the inhalation of the mould spores. Mould growth occurs when mould spores found in the air germinate on contact with damp surfaces.
How to prevent this:
Ventilation is key when it comes to reducing condensation as the moist air needs to escape. As air circulates round the house, it is drawn outside through windows, doors, vents and extractor fans etc. If this air exchange is poor, the air in the property becomes saturated and the water vapour will condense on the nearest cold surface. Condensation can be reduced as much as possible by following some simple tips:
Keep your home well ventilated by opening windows frequently. This will allow air to circulate. Do not over-ventilate the property by leaving windows wide open all day during cold weather. This will cause your walls to loose all of their stored heat.
When you are cooking, always turn the extractor fans on as this will extract any moisture. It is also a good idea to open the window whilst cooking as well as shutting the door to stop steam entering the colder rooms and causing condensation in there.
Constant low heat:
Heating is one of the key elements in reducing condensation. This is because warm air can hold far more moisture than cold air. However, sudden rises and drops in air temperature can worsen a condensation problem. Having your heating on a constant low heat is better for damp than frequently changing between hot and cold. It does not need to be hot, just warmer than the outside. The heat will evaporate the moisture in the air.
Do not put the heating on for short periods of times as this will make the problem worse. The air absorbs water vapour more quickly than the walls warm up. When the heating is turned off, the air cools rapidly and condensation therefore increases and cools the walls further.
Baths and showers:
Make sure the extractor fan is on during and after you wash. If you do not have one, then it is a good idea to open the bathroom window afterwards. Closing the bathroom door will also stop the moisture from entering colder parts of the property. When having a bath, it is a good tip to run cold water into the bath first followed by the hot to reduce the amount of steam in the room.
These help draw moisture out of the air. These are useful if you often dry your clothes inside the property. As well as plug in dehumidifiers, there are dehumidifier eggs and silica gel bags.
It is always best to avoid drying your washing indoors. As students, we understand that this can be hard, especially as not all properties provide tumble dryers and washing lines. However, it is always best to dry your clothes outside whenever possible. If you have a tumble dryer, make sure that this is vented properly. If you simply hang a house out of an open window, the moist air may be blowing back into the window.
You should leave a small gap between the walls of your home and your furniture. This will allow the air to circulate around the room. In your wardrobe, chest of drawers and cupboards, avoid over filling them as this will allow the air to stagnate.
How do i get rid of mould?
If you already have mould growing, it is best to clean it off straight away to minimise any health risk or damage to the property. This will require a mould removal product which can be found in most supermarkets. Make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions and recommendations for any product that you use.
Avoid vacuuming or brushing off mould as this will cause the spores to become airborne.
If you don't treat the cause, mould will keep growing back again and again. If it is not dealt with sufficiently, it can cause stains to paint work meaning that it could affect your deposit at the end of the tenancy agreement.