This is an old and continuing problem. You might expect in this age of technology and progression in construction and building techniques, condensation wouldn’t be much of an issue… read on!
Condensation occurs when warm air meets a cold surface and can result in warm moisture being released into the air indoors. The consequence of this can be steamed up windows and eventually water trickling down the glass.
Steam from cooking, taking a shower and even tumble driers can cause condensation which might be annoying but there are other more serious consequences if this happens continually over a long period of time.
Intermittent heating of property can add to the problem as warm damp air cools and can no longer hold the moisture. Once heated again the moisture is taken back into the air only to be dropped again when the temperature of the room drops without the benefit of heat creating a cycle of condensation.
The result of this can be decorative deterioration with black mould forming around window frames and on walls which can be difficult to tackle. Condensation can also cause fungal decay in floor timbers where suspended floors are in use.
A more serious form of condensation called interstitial condensation can occur within the fabric of the building and can’t always be seen. This can happen even with cavity filled walls but is not what might be considered common. Rectifying it may include use of hygrothermal material which allows more moisture in than can get out at any one time storing it harmlessly until conditions change so that the water can be released. Not something you are likely to be able to diagnose or remedy yourself – get a specialist in.
Prevention and cure…
Good ventilation and insulation can both help prevent condensation becoming a problem in your home. Ventilation is simple – opening windows or using extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms will prevent a build-up of moisture and keeping the doors of these rooms closed when in use will prevent the moisture in the air travelling into other rooms. You can of course also run around like a lunatic window cleaner with a squeegee removing the moisture and drying the windows off with a cloth!
Double and triple glazing can be really beneficial as the glass stays warmer and therefore reduces the difference in temperature of the surface and the air coming into contact with it, even from central heating. Walls can be a bit more difficult to deal with particularly in older buildings that may have solid floors and walls that cannot be cavity filled with additional insulation. This can mean that the temperature of the walls and floors drops below dew point which is the point at which the moisture in the air turns to water. This can result in black mould forming on walls which no amount of painting will cover permanently.
Overall, any form of moisture in your property whether from condensation, rising damp or leaky pipes/drain/gutters will eventually cause greater problems than the initial causes so once identified or suspected, if you can’t fix it yourself get a man (or woman) who can!