The principle cause of condensation is an excessive humidity level. This is evidenced by water running down windows (especially first thing in the morning), water running down tiling, pools of water on windows cills and a general cold, clammy feeling in the property.
Our free initial survey will include measuring humidity levels throughout the property, in order to establish just how serious the problem is and help to identify the causes.
Humidity, or more exactly Relative Humidity (RH), is expressed as a percentage with the maximum 100% reading meaning that it is effectively raining! Whilst there is no universally perfect humidity level, a reading in the region 50% is normally acceptable. At readings of 60%, and above, condensation is almost certain to form, especially in the winter period when there are lower external temperatures. Once the humidity level has increased to between 65% and 70%, the formation of black or toxic mould is almost inevitable.
Black Mould or Toxic Mould, as it known in America, is a health hazard and can create respiratory problems and allergic reactions. It variously appears in a pink, green, grey or more predominantly black shade on any surface where moisture is available for it to form. The mould will typically appear on the inside of external walls, around windows, behind furniture, on ceilings and on clothes in wardrobes and drawers. Once formed it is extremely difficult to remove - bleach can be effective but requires frequent, regular applications which can damage the host material. Special fungicidal washes are more expensive but no more effective.
Unless the humidity level is permanently reduced, the mould will keep reappearing.
Warm air holds significantly more moisture than cold air so that when warm air hits a cold surface, the temperature of the air is cooled to below the dew point and water condenses onto the cold surface. The dew point of moist air drops rapidly as temperature decreases, making condensation a much bigger problem in poorly heated properties.
A raised dew point can be achieved by adding more heat, increasing the ventilation, reducing the moisture level or a combination of all three of these factors.
The secret is to achieve a sensible balance between these factors in a cost effective manner.
Environment - Cornwall is naturally a damp, humid place. Most of the properties in Cornwall are less than half an hour's drive from the sea. During the winter months, roofs and walls that were designed to repel water falling vertically are suddenly having to repel wind-blown water from a horizontal direction.
Lifestyle - Living, breathing, cooking, washing, showering, drying clothes on radiators, un-vented tumble driers, etc. all add to the levels of humidity in a dwelling. An average family of four creates over 100 pints of moisture every week! High fuel bills lead to occupiers (and in particular, the less-well-off) reducing the level of heating and not adequately ventilating the property - preferring to stay in a totally sealed box that initially feels warmer! Any moisture that is now in the property cannot escape and more moisture is being added at an increasingly alarming rate every day!
The Building - Inherent problems can include lack of insulation, double glazing with no trickle vents, lack of kitchen & bathroom extractor fans, boarded up or removed fireplaces, penetrating damp, rising damp, leaky gutters, plumbing leaks, lack of adequate heating, portable gas fires - any or all of these items will have a cumulative effect over time.
Dehumidifiers - They are expensive to buy, expensive to run, noisy, have to be emptied frequently and are usually only effective when run on a continuous basis. Depending on the size of the electric motor they can easily cost £30 plus per month to run.
Lifestyle - Altering anyone's lifestyle, even on a short term basis, is not easy, but making any change "stick" on a long term basis is virtually impossible - most people live the way they do because they like it and are comfortable with it, so resist any change.
Heating - Raising household temperature is again an understandably difficult objective to achieve. Although improving thermal insulation is usually grant aided, the ever-increasing cost of energy and the high capital cost of installing new, more efficient, heating systems limit every-day affordability.
Ventilation - Fitting kitchen & bathroom extractor fans, to improve ventilation, is a very good idea; but using the toilet in the dark, to avoid the noise of the fan is not! Similarly, not using the cooker hood because it is noisy, does not help the ventilation. Opening windows is again a very good idea, but heat loss costs money, so people don't do it as often as they should!
For numerous reasons, and perhaps not surprisingly, tenants do not always do what they are asked to do! If you supply a dehumidifier, it is usually turned off by the time you reach the end of the garden path and they still want a rent reduction to pay for the increased running costs!
Tenants are notorious for not opening windows, drying clothes on radiators or using tumble dryers with no vent hose! Their portable gas heaters also create abundant amounts of moisture.
Measured against possible hassle from Environmental Health, re-decorating costs, lost rent, re-letting costs and possible compensation for damage to clothes, furnishings, etc. a Drimaster or Flatmaster is an incredibly cost effective solution.
After many years of experience dealing with all types of properties and an equally wide range of occupiers and their very varied life-styles, we have found that the only hope of a cure, that really works, is one where the occupier has nothing to do! A system that is permanently switched on and works automatically 24/7 whether the windows are open or not, is the only one guaranteed to succeed.
The energy efficient Nuaire Drimaster or Flatmaster is a Positive Input Ventilator. This amazingly simple system dilutes, displaces and replaces damp air with drier air. It runs almost silently, has extremely low running costs, reduces radon, reduces allergen levels and has a minimal installation cost. It also makes the existing heating system work more effectively as only dry air is being heated not moisture laden air!