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Stopping condensation during winter

28 May 2021 |4 Minuites Read

Condensation may not seem like the scariest of all potential intruders, but it could do damage to your property and your tenant.

Consistently having tenants occupying your investment property is crucial to getting the best return on your investment. There’s one tenant that you shouldn’t want residing in your property though; condensation.  

Condensation on windows may not seem like the scariest of all potential intruders but it could end up doing damage to your asset. That is why when it comes to condensation, it is always best to be vigilant. 

What is condensation and why does it occur? 

Condensation occurs when vapour in the air turns into liquid. It is quite often associated with the moisture on your shower screen or your windows.

It’s the result of the everyday activities of your tenants and the result of external environmental factors.

Cooking, washing, bathing and even breathing cause moisture to be released into the air.

The air can only hold a certain amount of water vapour before it reaches a point where it is oversaturated. Otherwise known as the warming process, if the air becomes cooled by approaching a cold surface, such as a mirror or window, the vapour turns into droplets of water. This process leads to condesation being created. 

How is condensation harmful? 

Every property experiences condensation, but when your property is consistently experiencing this phenomenon it can lead to mould growth. This can be a huge problem for any property investor and their portfolio.

Mould is fungal growth. In addition to simply being an unpleasant presence in the home, mould can be damaging to the health of your tenants. It can also be very detrimental to your property. 

Health risks

According to the Victorian Government, mould produces tiny particles called spores. Spores are carried in the air and may cause health problems if inhaled by people who are sensitive or allergic to them. These problems could include a blocked nose, irritation of the eyes and skin. It can also cause respiratory problems including wheezing.

Occasionally, people may have more severe reactions such as rashes, headaches or sinus problems.

In severe cases people may develop a mould infection, often in the lungs. For any asthmatic tenants, inhaling mould spores may cause an asthma attack which can be life-threatening.

Impact to the property 

Excessive condensation doesn’t simply foster mould growth, it can also damage your property.

Condensation can run off windows to stain woodwork or in serious cases even damage the wallpaper or plaster. Fixing these can be a particularly expensive to repair or replace.

Depending on the location of the property, excessive moisture can freeze the insulation in your roof. In a worst-case scenario, it could eventually melt and damage your plaster when warm weather comes, just like a roof leak.

It can also begin to form blisters under your exterior paint, leaving you in need of an expensive paint job. 

What should your tenants do? 

Despite your obligations, preventing condensation build-up and mould growth in your investment property is a shared responsibility between you and your tenants. 

The lifestyle factors of residents impact the amount of condensation in a property. So, you can’t do everything necessary to protect your property if you don’t live in it. 

There are a few measures your tenants can take to prevent an unhealthy living environment and stop any damage to your valuable asset. 

What steps tenants can take

  • Open windows and doors regularly to ventilate the home and reduce humidity levels
  • Maintain low constant heat when weather is particularly hot or cold. Continuous heating is better than short bursts
  • Clean the bathroom frequently
  • Dry off clothes and shoes before storing them away
  • Wipe away moisture on windows and walls to keep the home dry
  • Dry washing outside whenever possible. Alternatively, hang washing in the bathroom, keeping the door closed and the windows wide open
  • Try covering pans and pots while cooking
  • Keep bathroom and kitchen doors closed so moisture doesn’t escape into different parts of the property
  • Leave a small gap between the walls and your furniture. This allows air to move away from the bottom of the walls and circulate around the room.
  • If tenants have a washing machine or dryer, they should ensure that it is vented correctly. From only one load of washing, two litres of water can be emitted into the air
  • Wipe down surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen after cooking or taking a shower to remove any moisture that has settled on surfaces

If you’d like to find out more about the importance of taking measures to protect your asset from the damage of condensation, talk to your property manager today. 

What can you do? 

Remembering that no property can be 100% free of condensation all year-round, there are several measures you can take to reduce the condensation build-up in your property.

What steps landlords can take

  • Check the roof for leaks and broken tiles
  • Ensure there aren’t any leaking toilets and that the seals in the bathtub and kitchen sink are undamaged
  • Fix leaky plumbing as soon as possible
  • Keep the property warm with insulation, draught-proofing and heating systems
  • Install effective fans in spaces likely to be affected by condensation such as bathrooms
  • Consider installing ventilation over appliances that produce moisture like dryers or stoves
  • Install storm windows or replacement windows with double or triple glazing
  • Fix swollen or crumbling walls and remove buckling floorboards

Mould and other problems caused by structural faults or leaks are usually considered to be your responsibility, so it’s important you take the appropriate measures.

If you’d like to find out more about your responsibilities for preventing condensation and mould growth, you can talk to your Little Real Estate property manager for advice.