What causes condensation? What exactly is it?

People don’t necessarily think of condensation as being something that could damage your home, but actually it can: especially over the long-term. Here, we’re going to take a look at what the root causes of condensation are.

The scientific (and hopefully not too boring) explanation

Condensation is the transformation of gas to a liquid. Particles in gas have different energies, some of which don’t have the energy to remain as separate particles when the substance is cooled down. So, steam turns into water.

Put more simply: condensation takes place when warm air collides with a cold surface, usually when there’s too much humidity in the room.

As a result, it’s a lot more common in winter than in summer!

This is for a number of reasons:

  • We turn our central heating systems up a lot higher
  • We cook more frequently, especially on the hobs
  • We’re more likely to dry clothes indoors
  • We tend to take longer showers and baths: it’s just too tempting not to when it’s cold outside!
  • We normally keep the windows closed in order to stop the cold air getting in.

All of the above activities increase the risk of condensation. Some – like closing the windows – trap the excess heat. Others – cooking on the hob is one – simply create more of it.

What are the symptoms of condensation?

It might be that, if it’s not a problem you’ve encountered before, you’re not actually sure to look for. Fortunately, there are three easy ways in which to identify condensation:

  • Water droplets forming on cold surfaces such as glass and paint
  • Damp wallpaper
  • Development of mould (we’ll cover this more our next post)
Why should you be worried about condensation?

Condensation in the short term isn’t necessarily something you should worry about. However in the long run it can start to encourage things like black mould, which will happily latch onto walls, ceilings and windows.
Needless to say, black mould doesn’t look particularly good. However, this still isn’t the biggest problem with it: health issues are. Health risks associated with exposure to black mould include sinus problems, skin rashes, and even more extreme issues like bronchitis.

In conclusion

Hopefully, this introduction to condensation has encouraged you to take it more seriously. In the future we’ll be taking a look at the different ways in which you can help to both prevent and remove what is still quite a common household issue.