Winter is upon us once again bringing not only colder temperatures and snow but many condensation and damp based problems for homeowners.
In order for us to eradicate these problems, we must first establish what causes them in the first place. One consistent problem within a home during the winter period is condensation.
Condensation occurs when moist air comes into contact with a surface of the building fabric which is at a lower temperature.
Air contains water vapor in various quantities. Its capacity to do so is related to its temperature. Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. When the moist air comes into contact with either colder air or a colder surface, the air is unable to retain the same amount of moisture and the water content is then released to form condensation into the air or onto a colder surface.
Condensation is generally visible where it forms on non-porous materials (windows, tiles, plastic ceiling or wall cladding) but it can form on any surface under the right conditions and it may not be noticed until mold growth becomes irrelevant.
The effects of moisture generation are most definitely made worse by insufficient ventilation. Certain areas of a home (such as bathrooms and kitchens) can generate up to a third of a dwellings moisture content. When the moist air then moves to cooler parts of the house, it will condense on any given cold surface.
With the vast improvement of energy conservation methods, buildings have become more airtight and better at retaining moisture and vapor content that is produced by homes inhabitants. This provides ideal conditions for condensation to occur. Ventilation is only effective if it's consistent through the entire building envelope. Condensation is also encouraged by poor air circulation where stale air can not move and forms behind furniture and in cupboard spaces. The first sign of this is often the visual appearance of mold growth.
Mold is a fungi that produces tiny tiny particles called spores. For a person with allergies or breathing difficulties, these tiny spores can trigger asthma, bronchitis and many other respiratory problems. When the spores settle onto a warm moist spot they will begin to germinate. The moisture that is present in a home becomes the perfect breeding ground for the mold to thrive on and grow.
If left unattended mould will continue to spread, damaging both the integrity of the homes building fabric and its occupant's health. Mold requires relative humidity levels from between 65% to 99% at the surface point at which it grows.
The vast majority of extractor fans stocked within the major UK DIY superstores will only operate on either a direct switched input or will have a maximum thirty minute timer overrun facility. If a fan were to run through its specified thirty minute overrun facility the RH% levels within a bathroom area would still remain at a high level suitable for sustained mold growth.
Those without ventilation altogether will simply choose not to leave the window of a wet room open during the colder months. Inhabitants of a home with an extractor fan installed will also very rarely leave the fan switched on for the required time frames to remove the relevant vapor content from within these wet areas.
Three solutions in which an occupant can eradicate this problem are;
1. Calculate the size of your room and the number of air-changes per hour required to achieve adequate airflow extraction rates. Select an extractor fan capable of moving the calculated air content.
2.Select a humidistat controlled extractor fan which will continue to operate until the vapor content from within the room's atmosphere has returned to present safe RH% levels to minimize mould growth.
3.Select an extractor fan that has background ventilation and continuously extracts vapor content from within a room's atmosphere 24/7.
The two most popular rooms to be renovated by homeowners are both the kitchen and the bathroom areas. They're also the two that inhabants will generate the most moisture from.
Financially these rooms are also the most expensive to remodel, so if you're thinking about renovating you may want to think about doing a little bit groundwork to ensure you get your ventilation requirements right first time.
Stopping mold from growing is not only necessary for you to ensure a clean home it is also of paramount importance to ensure its occupant's health.