Condensation affects homes old and new. In fact, it accounts for 70% of domestic damp and many situations where leaks and rising damp are wrongly blamed. It causes plaster to crumble, wallpaper to peel away from walls, staining and more serious issues like mould and dust mites that can lead to health issues.
Kitchens and bathrooms produce the most water vapour, so keeping doors shut to these rooms can help control moisture levels elsewhere.
Use ventilation and extractor fans where you have them, open windows each day, wipe down surfaces that get wet and maintain a low background heat.
It is worth noting that issues caused by condensation that do not affect the structural integrity of a property are excluded from most structural warranty policies.
Lots of materials that go into making homes use a mix of water, which evaporates over time and may cause condensation in your home. It can lead to small cracks in plaster and woodwork which can be repaired easily and present no danger to you or the structure of your home.
This is part of a perfectly normal process called “drying out” and typically lasts about six months.
You can reduce the effects of drying out by:
- Wiping away condensations on glass surfaces
- Keeping pans covered when cooking, even if you have an extractor hood
- Drying clothing outdoors and if you use a tumble dryer, making sure it vents outdoors or is fitted with a condenser
- Leaving windows and trickle-vents open when possible and not blocking air bricks or vents
- Closing the bathroom door when bathing or showering
Sometimes, drying out can lead to salt deposits on walls, often appearing as white marks. They can be wiped away but if the problem reoccurs it could indicate a water leak, in which case you should contact your developer.
Shrinkage and cracking
Timber and plaster will shrink as a result of your home being heated and lived in. As with drying out, this can lead to small cracks that can be easily repaired. The more you can keep an even temperature throughout the house, rather than extremes of hot and cold, the more you can minimise cracking. Keep your home ventilated as much as possible too.
If small cracks do appear, leave them a few months before sealing them.
If you feel cracks are more significant than as a result of normal shrinkage and cracking, it may indicate that you have movement in your home. In this case you should contact your developer.
Water staining and efflorescence
While efflorescence is normal and easily dealt with, water staining on the walls or ceiling of your home may indicate something more serious is going on.
Efflorescence occurs when water moves through a wall or other structure containing cement, or is being driven out as cement stone is formed. It leads to a white deposit which you can remove by wiping or brushing with a stiff brush.
If you see water stains on walls or ceilings, report it to your developer as it could indicate a problem with the plumbing or the signs of water getting into your home from the roof or external walls.
LABC Warranty has published a handy run-in checklist that you can download here.