4 steps to reduce condensation
While damp is often the result of a structural defect, condensation is a different issue altogether. It is a landlord’s responsibility to address issues with damp, but the situation with condensation is far less clear-cut.
Typically caused by the tenant but exacerbated by poor ventilation, condensation can lead to black mould, which is harmful to health and difficult to eradicate. Ironically, it is often improvements in heating and insulation which lead to excessive condensation. In airtight properties, any moisture which is created will condense on the coldest available surface, and when double-glazing has been installed, that would be in the interior of an external wall.
What causes condensation?
Anything which creates moisture indoors could lead to condensation. This includes, bathing, showering, washing clothes, drying clothes, ironing, cooking – and even breathing. Sadly, tenants are not always aware that their day to day activities are storing up problems for themselves and the property they live in.
Smaller homes are particularly prone to condensation as, generally, these are more intensively occupied. The residents will generate the same amount of moisture as those living in larger homes, but that moisture is confined to a smaller area. However, a few simple measures could see a resolution to any condensation issues. Here’s four steps to reducing condensation in residential property:
- Improve ventilation
While a variety of activities generate excessive moisture in homes, condensation is usually the result of insufficient ventilation. It is crucial that all windows can be opened. This isn’t always the case as windows may have no openers, could be difficult to open or may have been poorly maintained. If new windows are to be fitted, choose styles with openers and trickle vents. Air bricks are also a useful addition to a property and will provide passive ventilation if tenants prove lax in opening their windows.
- Increase mechanical ventilation
As tenants may not be keen on losing valuable heat from their home or compromising their security by opening their windows, it could prove useful to install mechanical ventilation, especially in rooms where moisture production is high, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Fit extractor fans to all bathrooms and a good cooker hood in the kitchen.
- Reduce cold spots
If there are problem areas in a property where mould has started to appear, condensation can be tackled by increasing the heat in these areas. This will eradicate the cold spots, but such measures will only be effective if undertaken in conjunction with enhanced ventilation, as the problem will otherwise occur elsewhere in the home.
- Encourage tenants to act responsibly
You may provide adequate means to ventilate a property but that does not mean tenants will automatically use them. Open windows result in draughts, higher energy bills and reduced security, while extractor fans create an irritating noise. But it is important that tenants ventilate their homes and so they should be encouraged to do so either via a clause in their rental agreement or the provision of a tenant pack featuring the relevant advice.
By instructing tenants to open windows and vents, to use extractor fans, to close kitchen and bathroom doors and not to block air bricks, most condensation can be avoided. Other preventative measures include placing lids on saucepans, drying clothes outside and using a tumble dryer which vents externally.
Striking the right balance
The appropriate measures to reduce condensation conflict with a tenant’s need to reduce their energy bills, to keep warm and to maintain their personal security. There is a fine balance to be struck, but one which it is possible to achieve with planning, improvements to the property and the provision of the right advice.
If you need advice about letting your property or making improvements to it, contact us today.