Southern Timber & Damp
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Condensation in your property

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Condensation

Condensation is a complex subject

Condensation has become the single biggest factor in modern living and life style and the impact of Condensation on people's lives is increasing almost daily. In principal Condensation is the result of a lack of control of a living environment and since most of us want to live their lives in a cozy 'sealed up' box, it has to be understood that the more bodies contained in a living environment, the more moisture will be generated. On average, human beings exude at least 2 pints of moisture vapor per day and in conjunction with other demands of modern living and life style, extreme cases of up to 12 pints can be generated on a daily basis. There is a limit to how much moisture vapor can be held in the atmosphere of any 'sealed up' living environment and a key ingredient is temperature. The warmer the environment, the more the living environment can hold as moisture and therefore by contrast, the cooler the environment the less moisture that the environment can hold as moisture vapor. Once the level of moisture vapor in conjunction with the temperature reaches saturation point, moisture vapor becomes water droplets and this is when the trouble starts. The water droplets will be attracted to colder surfaces (windows and exterior walls which have a tendency to be colder than other surfaces of the room) and to poorly ventilated areas such as behind items of furniture, behind curtains and piles of personal possessions stacked against any wall.

The water droplets have been derived by a process called 'deliquescence' and if the water droplets are left where they fall, they are the only predicament and source of unsightly black/grey stains on interior surfaces. There could well be an underlying damp problem which may have exacerbated the problem and which may have created a colder surface than might be normal. However, one can be sure that anything black/grey is caused by impact of Condensation which is a very different issue to Rising, Hygroscopic or Penetrating Damp. For example, the reason why leather goes moldy in a humid environment is because leather attracts moisture and breathes and that is why we wear leather shoes on our feet!

If the above has been digested and fully understood, it should become obvious that if a living environment is ventilated adequately, the surplus moisture vapor which has been generated within will be taken out of the living environment to the outside world. Fresh air is free which should encourage the natural approach to the control and cure of Condensation. Most modern window units have a ventilation setting or trickle vent incorporated into their construction and if used in conjunction with the spontaneous act of opening a window on all possible occasion it will control most living environments. The standard response to this suggestion is that it can get cold outside at certain times of the year and anyone in the Damp Proofing business will rarely need to look in his/her diary to know what time of year it is because the change in the seasons will be consistent with the tone and content of the enquiries received. The message therefore to all is that you cannot have your cake and eat it. If an environment is sealed up and bodies are stuck into that living environment, the chances are that Condensation will be an issue at some point.

An extreme example is a call received a couple of years ago from a house owner panicking about the integrity of his roof. According to the house owner, the roof was about to collapse and water was pouring in between the roof tiles into his roof space. An assessment of the structure did not reveal anything of concern about the integrity of the roof structure and after a lengthy discussion it was established that there had been a party in the house a few days previous. It transpired that there had been 30 to 40 people at this party and as was pointed out to the house owner, 30 to 40 bodies in a confined area had generated at least 60 to 80 pints of moisture vapor. The moist air had percolated up through the house and condensed in the cool environment of the roof space. Hardly surprising that water had been dripping off the rafters.

The Control and Cure for Condensation

Control your living environment the natural way and the ongoing cure and control will cost you nothing. Some obvious examples in conjunction with taking every opportunity to release the surplus moisture vapor to the outside world are to pull your furniture and beds away from the wall (you will be amazed what a couple of inches will make) to allow air to circulate better within a room, leave your wardrobe doors open whilst you are not in the bedroom during the course of the day, if you sleep in a bedroom with the door closed try and leave the door open to allow areas of high moisture to circulate to other parts of the house and never, never dry clothes on radiators which artificially pumps disproportionate and additional amounts of moisture into a living environment.

In any future redecoration or refurbishment programme, use Anti Mold Paints sourced from a specialist paint wholesaler of paint products. A mild solution of Jeyes Fluid or even Bleach will not return an affected wall to its former glory but it will remove the ugly black stains from the surface of the wall. However and remember, more Condensation and the black spores/stains will return.

If exasperation point is reached, there are numerous mechanical and electrical means on the market to come to the rescue but from this point onwards the approach will cost money. A Dehumidifier is the single most effective control and cure but not only is a dehumidifier an ugly piece of equipment standing in the middle of the room soaking up your electricity but you will be surprised at the amount of water that you are syphoning off the reservoir. It has to be said also that a Dehumidifier has to be used properly and the weak argument that a dehumidifier is switched on regularly at certain times of the day or night is not an acceptable excuse. A Dehumidifier has to be used efficiently and long enough to control and maintain the desired and balanced environment within your living space.

There are of course extremes of Condensation and if anyone allows themselves to be affected adversely and excessively by Condensation, they only have themselves to blame. Condensation will only on rare occasions undermine the integrity of a structure and if there is some modest control of the Condensation problem, there is minimal risk to a healthy environment.

AN IMPORTANT POINT IS THAT ANY FURTHER UNDERLYING DAMP ISSUES WHICH COULD BE POTENTIALLY EXACERBATING A CONDENSATION ISSUE WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL THE OVERALL CONDENSATION PROBLEM HAS BEEN MASTERED AND CONTROLLED.

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