Can Condensation Cause Water Damage?

water damage condensation

If someone poured 18 gallons of water into your house every week, would you be surprised to find that water damage had occurred? That’s the approximate weekly content of water vapor generated inside a home by the daily living activities of a typical family of four. If that invisible vapor condenses into actual liquid, the result can be substantial indoor water damage, seen and unseen. 

Where Condensation Comes and Goes

Condensation occurs as water vapor in warm air (also known as humidity) condenses into liquid form when it contacts a cooler surface. Because glass provides a uniformly cool surface, windows are often ground zero for the formation of condensation. Large flat surfaces such as walls are, too. In addition, water vapor naturally migrates from warm humid zones into dry cooler zones, spreading condensation and water damage into areas like the attic, wall cavities, and other structural voids.

Examples of condensation-related water damage include the following:

  • Staining of indoor surfaces such as walls and ceilings.
  • Deterioration of drywall material.
  • Blistering or cracking indoor paint.
  • Glass windows frequently fogging and/or streaked with water.
  • Water-damaged window sills, including rot and mold growth due to continuous moisture.
  • Rotted or warped wooden structure in the attic and other areas.
  • Saturated attic and wall insulation.
  • Indoor mold contamination. 
  • “Sweating” on indoor plumbing pipes.

To reduce water damage due to condensation, limit sources of indoor water vapor.

  • Install exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. After bathing or cooking, run fans for at least 15 minutes to exhaust humid air.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom doors closed to prevent the spread of humid air into other living spaces.
  • Make sure the clothes dryer vent pipe is intact and extends to the outdoors. Never hang up wet laundry to dry indoors.  
  • Seal cracks and gaps in walls and ceilings that allow humid indoor air to infiltrate into the colder attic or wall voids, depositing condensation in these hidden areas.
  • Keep air circulating with ceiling fans.
  • Where chronic indoor humidity is ongoing, utilize room dehumidifiers to reduce water vapor or install a whole-house dehumidifier in home ductwork. 

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