Cold temperatures as cause of humidity and condensation
Turn off your heating to reduce your energy bill? Note: “Cold temperatures encourage moisture”
BY EDITOR LIVIOS
Due to the sky-high energy prices, you may be thinking about turning off the heating in certain rooms. But that’s not as innocent as it seems. Cold walls can lead to moisture problems. Els Staessens of ROBUST architecture & research provides more explanation.
How can a lower indoor temperature lead to moisture problems?
Condensation is the culprit in the story. “In an indoor space with a temperature of 21 degrees and normal humidity, condensation hardly forms,” says Els Staessens. “However, when the indoor temperature drops, the relative humidity rises and condensation quickly sets in.”
When you turn off the heating in the house, the surface temperature of the outside walls also drops. “The water vapor in the air then settles on those cold walls and ceilings,” Staessens explains. For example, a local moisture problem can arise in the form of surface condensation.
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moisture problems mold condensation picture Livios
How do you recognize that you (almost) have a moisture problem?
You can recognize condensation as water pearls at the top of the wall or on the ceiling. “The most treacherous points are the corners of ceilings and the place where cupboards are placed against the outer walls,” Staessens adds as a tip.
Very often, condensation is accompanied by the formation of mold. Condensation is a typical problem in the bathroom, basement, kitchen and laundry. The relative humidity level is usually slightly higher there.
What can you do to avoid condensation problems?
“Airing is the message,” says Staessens. You can easily dispel condensation by opening the windows briefly and letting in dry, fresh outside air. This way you lower the relative humidity in the interior.
In addition, the indoor temperature should not drop too much. “An air temperature of 16 degrees is the limit. The outside walls usually do not get colder than 15 degrees and condensation can often not yet form. It is therefore important to heat the room at least once a week,” emphasizes Staessens. She adds that you have to heat poorly insulated, old homes more frequently. “It cools down faster there and therefore condensation forms faster.”
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And what if your home is already struggling with moisture problems due to condensation?
Has the damage already been done and does condensation often form in your home? Then ventilation and heating is again the message. This way the damp spot can still dry out. “If the moisture problem is too great and molds are already present, more will be needed than just heating,” adds Staessens. The earlier you tackle the moisture problem caused by condensation, the easier it is to solve. “Condensation is a superficial problem that you can usually easily expel, but it can cause permanent damage to the paint or wallpaper,” warns the expert.
How quickly do moisture problems occur after you turn off the heating?
“How quickly condensation problems develop depends on the relative humidity and the indoor temperature,” says Staessens. You can already see condensation appearing after one hot shower, but the moisture problem only arises when that moisture cannot escape. “If you ventilate and heat the room, you don’t have to worry.”
“If you still want to turn down the heating a little due to the rising gas prices, it is better to set a lower base temperature than to turn off the heating completely”, is Staessens’ golden tip.