With the end of February coming up, we’re getting closer to the end of winter. But as Canadians are well aware, there’s no reason to pull out the swim trunks just yet. We have a number of cold weeks still ahead. With that said, it’s important to note that the frigid outdoor temperatures stand to create an indoor air quality hazard in the form of condensation. Condensation occurs when the warm air in your home comes into contact with a cold surface, such as your windows.
What indoor air quality problems can condensation cause? As British Columbia’s Homeowner Protection Office explains it, “condensation can cause serious damage to the interior and structural elements of your home or building…Drywall and wood finishes around windows are two examples of materials in your home that can readily absorb moisture and become damaged if they remain wet for a sustained period of time.”
They go on to point out that when left unchecked, condensation can create crumbling or soft spots in drywall, decay in wood framing or corrosion of steel framing, peeling paint, damage to the insulation inside the walls and mould and mildew problems in your home. With respect to the mould and mildew issue, this is where your indoor air quality is significantly impacted. Mould spores are well known for causing respiratory problems.
So what can you do to eliminate a condensation problem in your home? Here are four ways:
1. Open the windows for ventilation. This tip may appear odd given that we are still enduring a chilly Canadian winter. But it’s still worth allowing some of the humid air in your home to circulate with the fresh air from outside. On CanadianWorkshop.com, Steve Maxwell points out that “this approach is about as easy as they come. Yes, opening windows will cost you a bit more in heating, but it still may be the cheapest way to solve your moisture problem.”
2. Minimize humidity in the home by regulating temperatures. The more humid it is inside your home, the more likely you are to promote condensation on your cold windows. The Homeowner Protection Office suggests that you follow a “rule of thumb” as it relates to your home’s temperature. “Interior air temperatures should generally be maintained between 18°C and 24°C with relative humidity falling between 35% and 60%,” they report.
3. Use the exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen. The majority of moisture in the home is generally present in the bathrooms and kitchen. Whenever you take a hot shower or fire up the stove, you add to the humidity that promotes condensation. “Bathroom exhaust fans, in particular, should be used during every shower or bath and for at least 15 minutes afterwards,” advises Maxwell.
4. Install a heat recovery ventilator (HRV). HRV’s are known for eliminating the condensation problem. However, Maxwell admits that having one installed is a bit pricey. Nevertheless, “it will also retain most of the heat that you’d normally lose through open windows and out of exhaust fans. In fact, HRVs are so effective and energy efficient that they’re now required by code for new houses in some jurisdictions.”
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we highly recommend that you have your home evaluated for moisture sources. We offer Moisture Monitoring Services that locate envelop failures, leaking issues and occupant-based moisture sources that could be causing an indoor air quality problem in your home. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.