Condensation? Let your building breathe

Issue 18 Words: Michael Green

Tighter building standards have given rise to condensation issues, ventilation is the key to combating moisture build-up in your home.

As we improve the air- tightness of our homes and fatten our insulation, we need less energy for heating and cooling. But there’s another side effect to consider: condensation. Condensation occurs where humid air hits a cooler surface, like the way droplets appear on the outside of a chilled glass of beer. In a house, it tends to form when warm internal air meets the building envelope that’s been cooled by exposure to the outside air.

Steve King from the Built Environment faculty at the University of New South Wales says Australian homes have always been draughty – until recently. “Traditionally, while there may have been condensation in homes, it dried out very easily because of the ventilation, so there weren’t any cumulative effects.”

In recent years, however, he says New Zealand, Canada and the UK have witnessed widespread condensation troubles after tightening their building standards.

The Australian industry is beginning to take notice of the issue too. Earlier this year, the Australian Building Codes Board released a guide on condensation for designers and builders.

Andy Russell from Proctor Group Australia was one of the contributors to the handbook. He says that where condensation forms regularly and doesn’t dry out, it not only causes mould, but can also decay the framing and lining of the house. In some cases, residents will experience the symptoms of “sick building syndrome”, including asthma, itchy eyes and nasal allergies.

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Cover of Issue 18
You can read more about Condensation? Let your building breathe in Issue 18 of Sanctuary magazine.

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