When the weather gets chilly, you may start to notice your windows collecting condensation. Although it may not seem like a serious problem at first, condensation on your windows is a sign of a ventilation problem which could lead to costly issues with damp, mould and damage.
Read on to find out more about how condensation happens, how to prevent it, and how to get rid of condensation in your home.
What is condensation?
Condensation is by far the most common form of damp in UK homes. It occurs when warm, moist air collides with a colder surface, creating water droplets.
It might surprise you to know that modern homes are often more prone to damp than period properties, as the building features we use to prevent heat escaping and keep draughts at bay - such as double-glazed windows and insulation - greatly reduce airflow in and out of the house. This means that warm air which would otherwise seep out of our homes is sealed in, which is great for staying cosy on a chilly night, but bad for ventilation.
How to prevent condensation
Prevention is better than a cure, as they say, and this is definitely true when it comes to damp. It can be all-too-easy to let seemingly small issues slide, but, left untreated, condensation can spread across walls and other surfaces, leading to mould and rotting window frames.
Taking early action to prevent excess moisture and tackle any signs of condensation will save you money and headaches down the line. Here are a few tips for avoiding condensation altogether:
- When cooking on the hob, cover saucepans and use the extractor fan to reduce the amount of hot, humid air filling the room.
- Planning on getting the iron out? Set your ironing board up next to an open window. You should also keep a window open while using a clothes steamer or steam cleaner to let the steam escape.
- A tumble dryer or outdoor clothes line are preferable to hanging laundry indoors, because of the amount of moisture it sends into the air, but we know that these options aren't always possible or practical. If you must dry clothes indoors, ventilate the space as much as possible by keeping the windows open. If you can, invest in a dehumidifier to to extract excess moisture. A heated clothes airer will speed up the drying process - once again, place near an open window when in operation, or use in tandem with a dehumidifier.
- When taking a hot shower or bath, keep the bathroom window open and run the extractor fan if you have one.
- Don't block ventilation points. If you have trickle vents or air vents in your windows or doors, you might be tempted to cover them during chilly weather, but these vents play a valuable role in ensuring your home maintains a healthy airflow. Close internal doors and install draught excluders, instead. For more on preventing an unwanted breeze, check out our guides to draught-proofing doors and draught-proofing windows.
- This goes for opening windows, too. It might not feel like an attractive prospect on a frosty day, but air out your home by opening your windows every day, even if only for a short period.
How to get rid of condensation
If you regularly wake up to condensation on your windows in the morning, you may need to take further action in addition to the general tips listed above.
- Turn your central heating up. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it makes sense: the colder your internal walls are, the more moisture they'll accrue when they come into contact with air. Increasing the temperature of the room, even by a little, reduces the imbalance and thus generates less moisture. When warm air cools rapidly, it releases moisture, so keeping a relatively consistent temperature is important, too.
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- We've already mentioned that a dehumidifier is handy to capture excess moisture when drying clothes inside, but if you're suffering from condensation, consider running a dehumidifier in the affected space. A portable model can easily be moved from place to place if you're concerned about moisture in multiple rooms.
- Moisture-absorbing condensation boxes are a cost-effective way to reduce condensation. The ANSIO Interior Dehumidifier and UniBond Moisture Absorber are among the best-selling models on the market, and are simple to use. When the absorbent crystals inside have dissolved into water, dispose and replace. Although they are not an alternative to an electric dehumidifier when it comes to dealing with large spaces or heavy condensation, these are a decent bet for keeping on top of everyday window condensation.
Can washing-up liquid stop window condensation?
A viral cleaning hack which has been widely shared online claims that wiping a small amount of neat washing-up liquid on the surface of your windows can get rid of condensation - but this isn't entirely true. Although the liquid creates a barrier that prevents condensation forming on the glass, this only reduces the appearance of condensation and doesn't address the root cause. In fact, it could even disguise the problem until it worsens, as the moist air will simply settle elsewhere instead, such as on walls or furniture.
The only permanent way to stop condensation is to remove excess moist air from your home using the tips shared above. Once your home has adequate ventilation, condensation on windows will be a thing of the past!