Condensation: Why is it an issue?

The air in every home will contain some level of moisture. Many of our day to day activities create additional moisture in the air. This can allow condensation to form rapidly and easily. Showering, cooking, even the breaths that you take can contribute. Unfortunately, many issues can arise from allowing excess humidity and moisture to build-up in within your home.

Frost On the Nails
There is frost visible on the underside of the roof deck and the nails. Mould has begun to form as well.

When too much Condensation is able to collect it can lead to costly interior damage. Our ceilings, wall and even our floors can become damaged as a result. Condensation build-up within our attic spaces may even cause the roofing system, shingles and roof deck, to deteriorate prematurely. It is also one of the leading causes of mould growth in our bathrooms and attic spaces. Mould and mildew growth can cause a number of adverse health effects including: difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, stuffy noses, sore throats and more.

Mouldy Roof Deck
Mould spores can be seen on the roof deck as a result of condensation.

What Is Condensation?

But what is condensation and how does it form? Air contains moisture in the form of water vapour. The warmer the air, the more water vapour it is able to hold. Once the humid air comes in contact with a cooler surface, the water in the air will revert back to liquid form and water will begin to collect on the nearest surface. In the winter months, this condensation will turn to frost very quickly. While condensation is most visible on surfaces such as windows, more serious cases can allow it to be seen on walls and ceilings as well.

Condensation drips
Condensation drips can be seen running down the walls and on the ceiling.

During the warmer months, condensation is generally less of an issue. This is because the level of humidity in the outside air is usually higher than the air inside of the home. Our windows and doors are left open more frequently as well, which helps to prevent excess condensation build-up within our living spaces. During the winter months however, the majority of home are closed up tight, to preserve the warmth inside. Condensation is more likely to build in this scenario.

Frost on the roof deck as a result of condensation.

Short Term Solutions

There are some things that you can do immediately to reduce the amount of condensation that can collect. If you see signs of condensation within your home, be it present on the windows or elsewhere, these short term solutions may help reduce the issues:

  • First, it is important to be aware of the amount of moisture that you are producing on a daily basis. When showering or bathing, be sure that the bathroom fan is left on. When you are done, be sure to leave the fan running for an additional 15 minutes. This will allow the remaining moisture to vent out of the room. The same goes for cooking. When you are preparing meals over the stove, ensure that your range hood fan is on at all times. Small changes in your routine can help to reduce the amount of condensation that can collect. If you don’t have a fan, keeping a window open during these activities, can help as well.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers are great for lowering humidity levels within the home. These units operate by drawing the humid air into the unit, where it is dried out before the water within has a chance to condense.
  • It is also important to ensure that your dryer is properly ventilated. By keeping the hose clear and ensuring that it is hooked up to a proper vent, you can reduce much of the humidity and moisture that escapes back into the home.

These short-term solutions should help to rid your home of moisture laden air, when an immediate solution is needed.

Prevent Condensation Long-Term

However, if the short-term solutions are not doing the trick, the issue should be further investigated. In this case, it may be best to hire a reputable company to properly assess your attic space. Attic insulation and Ventilation are two of the largest contributing factors to condensation development within the attic space and the home.

A well-maintained attic space will have sufficient insulation and vapour barrier installed. It will also have proper ventilation to ensure that air can flow through the attic space, pulling in cooler air from the soffits and exhausting hot and humid air through the exhaust vents as necessary. When it is not possible to have air intake from the soffits, there are specialized intake vents that can be used instead.

Blocked Soffits
The vented soffits are blocked by insulation. Attic baffles should be installed.

It is also important to ensure that any protrusions, such as pot lights, are covered and insulated within the attic. Even the smallest of gaps in the attic floor can allow hot air to rise up into the attic space. When this occurs, larger issues are created. Unfortunately, after assessing many attics all over Ontario, it is apparent that too many homeowners do not realize the importance of attic maintenance. Sometimes to their detriment.

The Pot light is not sealed.
The Pot light is covered but not sealed.

Contact a Professional

Costly damage can occur if condensation issues are left without rectification. The higher the temperature within your attic space, especially in the winter, the more condensation will form. The more condensation forms, the higher the likelihood of mould growth on the roof deck. This also increases the chance of interior water damage. If condensation continues to be an issues in your home, contact a professional immediately.