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How to Treat and Beat Condensation in the Bathroom

The drip-drip of water down the bathroom wall – that condensation is caused when hot steam hits cold walls. You’ve probably noticed that condensation is worst on outside walls and around the metal frames of single-glazed windows.

It also happens most in bathrooms where poor ventilation means it takes ages for the room to dry after someone’s showered or enjoyed a hot bath.

Now steam on the walls by itself isn’t a big problem – providing that the walls are covered in water-repellent bathroom paint and that you can dry them sharpish by opening the windows or turning up the bathroom radiator. However, if condensation happens often enough and for long enough, the damp in the walls provides the perfect breeding ground for bacterial mould.

Mould (also called mildew) is actually a fungus. Especially if you have vinyl wallpaper or ordinary emulsion paint, it can burrow below the surface. Unless you have x-ray vision, you won’t be able to see this undercover mould, so you have to make a judgement. If you’ve had mould for some time, or if the mould is in clumps rather than small dots, you can guess it’s below the surface.

To get rid of mould, first kill it with a brush-on solution containing biocide, which you can get from DIY (hardware) stores. Next, repaint the walls using a fungicide paint recommended for bathrooms. Give the ceiling a coating of specialist paint, too.

To prevent mould:

  • Cut humidity in the bathroom by running cold water into the bath before turning on the hot water. (This is safer, too, as you won’t accidentally burn your skin.)

  • Fit a thermostat to the bath and shower to control maximum temperature at the taps.

  • Open the windows after you shower.

  • When it gets misty, whip the towels off the heated rail to bring more drying heat into the room.

  • Wipe down damp walls with old towels.

  • Repaint walls and ceiling with specialist, low-moisture bathroom paint.

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