Con­den­sa­tion the curse of win­ter

Matamata Chronicle - - Building -

Win­ter con­den­sa­tion is a wide­spread prob­lem. In win­ter, we spend more time in­doors, cre­at­ing mois­ture from cook­ing, clean­ing, wash­ing and even breath­ing.

When we’re out of the house we leave it closed up for se­cu­rity.

In­su­la­tion adds to the prob­lem. We trap the heat in liv­ing ar­eas by keep­ing doors shut and us­ing heavy cur­tains and car­pets. This all comes at a price. Warm air holds wa­ter bet­ter than cold air.

Be­cause it’s sealed in, the mois­ture builds up then con­denses on cold sur­faces such as win­dows and walls.

But who wants to throw open the win­dows and re­place all that lovely warm (wet!) air, heated at some ex­pense, with a win­try blast from out­side?

The so­lu­tion is sim­ple – bet­ter ven­ti­la­tion. Mak­ing it hap­pen is less sim­ple. If you’re liv­ing in a draughty old Vic­to­rian villa, you shouldn’t have too much of a prob­lem with ven­ti­la­tion.

But mod­ern houses are much more air­tight, so nat­u­ral ven­ti­la­tion is min­i­mal.

Ex­tra heat­ing is part of the so­lu­tion, com­bined with wa­ter ex­trac­tion near the sources.

Range­hoods in­ter­cept steam from the kitchen; ex­trac­tor fans are ef­fec­tive at dry­ing out bath­rooms.

You could also con­sider a de­hu­mid­i­fier. While these can help con­trol con­den­sa­tion, they’re ex­pen­sive to run (up to $2.50 a day), of­ten noisy, and must be run con­stantly.

With a de­hu­mid­i­fier you are con­trol­ling the symp­toms and not deal­ing with the prob­lem.

While not the ideal so­lu­tion, de­hu­mid­i­fiers have their place.

An au­to­matic ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem is a bet­ter way of con­trol­ling con­den­sa­tion. Which­ever way you at­tack the prob­lem, re­mem­ber it’s even more ef­fec­tive if the amount of wa­ter re­leased into the air is re­duced. Ac­tiv­ity litres Cook­ing 3.0 / day Clothes wash­ing 0.5 / day Show­ers and baths 1.5 / day (per per­son) Dishes 1.0 / day Clothes dry­ing (un­vented) 5.0 / load

Gas heater (un­flued) Up to 1.0 / hour

Breath­ing, ac­tive 0.2 / hour (per per­son)

Breath­ing, asleep 0.02 / hour (per per­son)

Per­spi­ra­tion 0.03 / hour (per per­son)

Pot plants – as much as you give them

If you have not al­ready at­tended to these:

Fit ex­trac­tor fans over the cook­top or stove, and in the bath­room. They must be ducted to the out­side.

Al­ways use close-fit­ting lids on pots when cook­ing.

Vent the clothes dryer to the out­side.

Close doors when cook­ing, show­er­ing or us­ing the clothes dryer. Avoid us­ing un­flued gas heat­ing. Limit the num­ber of pot plants in the house.

Check that the ground un­der the house is dry.

If it’s wet, cover with poly­thene (if this is fea­si­ble), tap­ing the joints, and en­sur­ing a tight fit around piles. Check that drainage sys­tems are di­vert­ing wa­ter away.

Fix any leaks in the roof or around win­dows.

Re­move open vented down­lights or re­place them with new down­lights that don’t leak your warm damp air into the ceil­ing. Check your ceil­ing in­su­la­tion. If you don’t have any in­su­la­tion, get this in­stalled first.

If ex­ist­ing in­su­la­tion has be­come dis­lodged, com­pacted or wet through roof leaks, it won’t be fully ef­fec­tive.

It may even be in­ad­e­quate for your cli­mate. Fix all in­su­la­tion prob­lems be­fore con­sid­er­ing how to im­prove your heat­ing and ven­ti­la­tion.

The build­ing code has min­i­mum re­quire­ments for ven­ti­la­tion: All the air in your house should be changed ev­ery three hours.

It says the air in kitchens should be changed ev­ery hour; in bath­rooms ev­ery two hours.

To achieve this, the code sug­gests ex­trac­tor fans in kitchens and bath­room – and open win­dows else­where – to bring in fresh out­side air.

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