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What is Condensation? – Simple and Useful Guide

In order to understand what is condensation, you firstly have to go back to basics. Condensation in your house is generally water but why do you get it and where does it come from?

As you likely know, water exists in three forms solid (ice), liquid (water) and gas (vapour, steam and humidity) and in UK houses, it is the last two that are at the root cause of condensation. In particular, steam in the air converts back to liquid in the form of condensation.

We all know that changes in the temperature of water and the conditions it is in will affect these three states so clearly, melting ice (warming it up) turns it into water. In reverse, cooling steam turns it into water.

In a previous article we looked at the main causes of condensation.

Condensation and Dew Point

In order to explain condensation and why it is particularly a problem in the winter months, you need to understand the concept of dew point. But before we do that, it is useful to understand that moisture exists in the air all year round and is measured as humidity, or to give it the full name relative humidity.

Relative humidity is defined as “the amount of moisture / water in the air, expressed as a percentage, relative to what the air is capable of holding at a given temperature” – so the higher the humidity percentage, the more moisture is in the air. And the higher the relative humidity, the more moisture there is to form condensation.

Condensation Dew Point
Condensation and Dew Point

We said earlier when looking at what is condensation that, with temperature change, moisture or humidity in the air if it is cooled, will turn back into water. The temperature that this happens at is called dew point.

So if you use bathroom condensation as an example, you have a bath or shower and steam from it increases the humidity in the bathroom. When it is winter, your windows will be colder than other surfaces. The warm, moist air comes into contact with the window, cools down at at below dew point and forms as condensation on windows.

On the subject of winter, check out our article showing Christmas Fire Safety Advice and regarding humidity, a really interesting guide to reducing humidity. You may also find our guide to air quality meter tests good too.

What is Condensation.
What is Condensation.

Chances are that, if you are wondering what is condensation, you might have a problem with condensation in your home. So if you need help with understanding where it comes from and what to do with it, we offer a range of damp and mould services, including condensation inspections. Contact us today for help.

What is Condensation – Sources

As we said earlier, moisture is constantly in the air but becomes more of a problem in colder months, in particular October, November, December, January and February winter months.

This can be seen clearly by looking at when people search for information about what is condensation on google – as can be seen on google trends searches for condensation.

But what are the main sources of the moisture that forms as condensation? Here’s the top 10:

  1. Moisture from the breath and sweat of people and pets
  2. Steam from showering (especially long showers!)
  3. Steam from having a bath
  4. Steam from cooking (especially boiling)
  5. Moisture from Plants in the home
  6. Moisture from drying clothes indoors (and laundries)
  7. Steam from boiling a kettle
  8. Weather conditions outside the home
  9. Water vessels – fish tanks, water tanks etc.
  10. Sometimes a water leak

On that last point, if you have a water leak it can increase the amount of moisture in the air. So if you have a water leak and would like us to help find it, we offer leak detection specialist services.

If you have a problem with excessive condensation on windows, walls or ceilings, get in touch with us today and we will be glad to help.

What Can Help Reduce Condensation?

Now that we understand more about what is condensation, what are the things that can help to reduce condensation in your home or business?

  • Improved extraction from extractor fans / cooker hoods etc
  • Opening windows regularly to remove excess moisture
  • Controlling things that contribute to moisture from the list earlier
  • If you have a water leak, finding and fixing it
  • Finding and understanding cold spots where condensation forms
  • On that, improving insulation to prevent that
  • Good heating circulation, airflow etc

These are just some of the things that can help.

Condensation, Damp and Mould - York & Yorkshire
Condensation, Damp and Mould – York & Yorkshire Coast

Some of the common places condensation can be found:

  • Condensation on Windows
  • Condensation on Walls and Ceilings
  • Condensation on Pipes
  • Condensation in Loft Spaces
  • Condensation under floors
  • Condensation in basements
  • Condensation on or in fridges / refrigerators

Condensation and Mould
Condensation and Mould Links

Can Condensation Cause Mould Problems?

Yes, definitely. In our article about mould problems on walls, number one on the list of contributing factors was condensation. Mould needs moisture to grow and condensation can provide that. We discuss this further in our article about winter mould safety and a more recent guide to mould in houses.

As we have said previously, far too frequently, when people see mould they immediately think about how to remove the mould. However, the key thing is to concentrate on what has caused the mould in the first place and condensation can be one of the things that does that along with damp problems (which itself can be related to condensation – more on that later) or even a water leak on some occasions.

Window Condensation Mould
Window Condensation Mould Problems

When we do our condensation or mould inspection services, we look at each individual home or business and tailor the service accordingly, looking for the causational factors contributing to or directly causing the condensation or mould. In order to understand what is condensation, the ‘where it is coming from’ is essential. To help this, our remote monitoring solutions can be of great help.

What is Condensation? – Top Tip
Having a shower or bath can add to condensation problems so make sure you (a) have a good bathroom extractor fan (b) if not, open the windows if practical after bathing or showering and (c) keep the door to the bathroom closed to contain the moisture and prevent spread to adjacent (non-ventilated) rooms nearby in the house”

Leak Detection Team

Condensation and Damp

Similarly to our comment earlier about people jumping to thinking about removing mould. Quite often when people think of a damp problem they assume it is rising damp or a penetrating damp problem oftentimes.

Although that can be the case, perhaps more commonly, damp problems in houses are caused by condensation issues. For example, if condensation is on a wall or ceiling for some time it can absorb into the materials and cause damp problems. Our specialist moisture meters can help diagnose this.

It is not unusual for people to think they have a direct damp problem only to find out that the issue is condensation which, as I am sure you can imagine, is a relief if you expected that you needed damp proofing work or other major construction work doing in your home.

Drying Condensation

As part of the service we provide to people, and if required, we can help to dry your property from the condensation related issues if needed. As experts in water damage and property drying and have a range of specialist drying equipment, including a range of industrial dehumidifiers, targeted heaters and much more.

Water Damage - Property Drying, York and Yorkshire
Water Damage – Property Drying

Condensation Services – York and Yorkshire

At Rainbow Restoration – York & Yorkshire Coast we are experts in Leak Detection and Water Damage Restoration, so if you need help with condensation, damp, mould, finding a water leak or getting your property back to normal after a leak or flood, get in touch with our friendly local team who will be happy to help you with this.

Find out more about the areas we cover.

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What is condensation in a short answer?

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Let’s give you a really quick explanation on what is condensation – it is moisture vapour in the air which has come into contact with a cold surface which is below dew point turning the gas form of water back into a liquid state.

What is condensation in the water cycle?

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To understand what is condensation, it is best to thing about the different states water can be found in – gas, liquid and solid as part of the water cycle. Liquid water is what we know most commonly as water. Ice is solid water and steam is water in a gas state. When steam cools on a cold surface it turns back to liquid and shows as condensation.

What is condensation – give examples

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Condensation is when moisture in the air settles on a cold surface turning the gas back to a liquid. Examples include – condensation on windows in winter when you shower, condensation on the outside of a glass of cold drink, condensation forming as dew on grass outside or condensation on cold water pipes. These examples help to demonstrate what is condensation.