Professional Moisture Meters & Cold Weather Condensation

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This article is sponsored by Protimeter.


As winter sets in, the UK is facing a fuel crisis due to inflation.

Homeowners and tenants will be trying to lower heating coststhis year by reducing heating and ventilation in their homes.

But what does this mean for indoor air quality and the health and safety of building occupants?

A professional moisture meter helps assess the likelihood of condensation – the main culprit in a host of issues that normally arise in winter.

A Condensation Tsunami is Coming to Europe

While everyone is rightfully worried about affording heat this winter and still keeping warm, they may turn to alternative heating sources such as indoor propane heaters.

However, they may not be aware of the potential dangers of overusing this alternative heating source. Problems arise when unvented propane heaters cause condensation, and condensation causes mould and mildew.

The best offense against condensation is a good defense. Having a professional moisture meter on hand is a first step in mitigating condensation problems.

Propane Heaters Cause Condensation

Supplemental mobile propane, butane, and gas heaters may be viewed as cheaper alternatives to heating homes and apartments. However, these can add high amounts of moisture to the indoor environment.

For every kilogram of propane burnt, 1.64 kg of water is produced as the carbon in the fuel combines with oxygen in the air.

Without proper ventilation, that moisture remains trapped inside a dwelling, clinging to walls, ceilings, windows, and any other surface where it finds purchase.

While indoor propane heaters are safe and effective for briefly heating up a space, it’s also recommended that a window be open for ventilation while they’re in use. This seems counterintuitive for most users, thus they rarely open a window when it’s cold outside.

Dehumidifiers also help pull the excess damp from the air, but it’s fairly safe to guess that people trying to save money on heating costs will not spend more on a dehumidifier.

Condensation Causes Problems

First, a primer on condensation.

When you take a cold surface and introduce it to increased humidity (Rh), the water vapor in the air turns from gas to liquid.

It stands to reason then that if customers have let their homes and apartments go cold to save on heating costs… and they start using propane to supplement their heat… and the burning fuel adds more water to the air… That’s right – the warm damp air hits the cold walls and causes condensation.

And if they’re not ventilating their heaters, nor using a dehumidifier, the condensation only gets worse.

This leads to issues inside a home or building, such as:

  • Mould
  • Mildew
  • Water damage

What causes mould and mildew to grow? The same things as other living organisms:  food and water. If there’s excess water condensing in a home, the cellulose paper in walls and other building materials become mould’s food source.

For homeowners and landlords, properties may sustain permanent and costly damage as the excess damp provides pathways for mould and mildew to spread.

Dampness can make you ill. Mould growth in the living space can cause many ailments that do not always point to mould as being a root cause. This can lead to serious and long term health issues including respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma.

Leaving mould and mildew for too long can destroy the materials they’re feeding on, requiring a complete tear-out and replacement of ceilings, walls, window casings, and even floors. Having a dampness meter to spot issues is key.

Assessing Condensation Potential With a Professional Moisture Meter

Professional moisture meters can quickly assess the presence or likelihood of condensation and therefore the risk of future mould infestations. They can detect damp at low levels before it can be visually seen or felt.

With the right professional moisture meter, you can assess the potential for condensation by determining the temperature of the air, the air’s humidity, and the surrounding surface (walls, ceilings) temperatures.

When choosing a professional moisture meter look for and single multifunction meter that has:

  • Pin & pinless modes
  • Measures Rh
  • Takes surface temperature readings

 

Professional Moisture Meters: Tools to Mitigate Increased Condensation

Because of the perfect storm that is the combination of cold weather, high heating costs, and cheaper heating alternatives that add moisture to an environment, be on the lookout for condensation. Use the right tools, including professional moisture meters, to spot small issues before they become large problems.

Assessing the Rest of a Building for Moisture

Read more about measuring moisture in buildings. Download our free guide here!

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Chris Ranwell

Chris Ranwell is the Global Product Manager for the gas and moisture products at Amphenol Advanced Sensors, including Protimeter. Chris has for the last 21 years been directly involved with use of moisture meters and hygrometers for detecting and diagnosing moisture problems in buildings as well as the use of meters for flood damage restoration. Chris serves on several industry technical committees including ASTM F06 for resilient flooring and is WRT/ASD certified.

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