We’ve already looked in our previous blog at the sources of condensation, but now let’s turn our attention to how its controlled in period properties. By looking at how our fore fathers controlled moisture in their homes, we should be able to find clues as to how we can alleviate condensation in the same properties in the 21st century.
What may come as a surprise, is that condensation is a modern problem and it’s highly likely that our fore fathers never found it a problem. We’ve talked about ventilation being a key deterrent in the battle against condensation in our previous blog and it is the reason why it was never a problem in homes prior to the 1950s. Not only were older properties extremely draughty with sash or ill fitted windows but they were heated, in the main by open fires drawing a considerable amount of air into to the property for combustion. This air helped to ventilate and keep moisture levels in main rooms lower but it’s not just the higher levels of ventilation that helped period homes stay condensation free. The lifestyle of our pre war home owners was significantly different than modern times and contributed to reducing the occurrence of condensation. The kitchen and the laundry were most often in annexes or set back rather than being a central part of the house, clothes were hung outside on a washing line and if it were necessary to dry indoors, then clothes would have been placed in front of a fire which would draw the moisture out of the room and up the chimney, bathing was kept to a minimum and showers and tumble dryers hadn’t been invented. We touched briefly on sash windows earlier but the existence of draughts in the period property helped considerably preventing condensation. Draughts occurred were ever there was a fireplace, even when unlit, chimneys drew air naturally out of the room and up the chimney. It is quite likely for even a small 2 or 3 bedroom period property to have 3 or 4 fireplaces so ventilation would be very efficient in these rooms, combined with ill fitting floor boards and bare floors.
Just looking carefully through the previous paragraph it is easy to see that the period property from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times couldn’t have suffered from condensation when they were built and first occupied. The same period properties in the 21st century that suffer from condensation must do so because of the occupants lifestyle (which we looked at in part1 of this feature) or perhaps have had something in the fabric of the property that has changed to retain moisture in the home. We’ll look more closely at these possible changes in period properties in part 3 on Condensation coming up next.