Damp and Mould
There are lots of reasons why a home can be damp, but the most common cause is condensation.
Some homes suffer from damp, which can lead to mould.
Mould is usually found in places where there is poor air flow and cold spots. There are lots of reasons why a home can be damp, with condensation being the most common.
Damp can cause mould on walls, windows, and furniture. Damp and cold homes encourage the growth of mould and result in mites (which feed on mould) and can increase the risk of respiratory illness. It can be caused by:
Condensation created by high levels of moisture in the air.
Leaking pipes, wastes, or overflows.
Rain seeping through the roof where a tile or slate is missing.
Blocked guttering, cracked or loose rainwater pipes.
Rising damp due to a defective damp course, which will create a yellow tide mark on internal walls.
There are different types of damp and mould, with a range of causes. The diagram below shows where these can occur.
Mould is a natural organic compound that develops in damp atmospheres. It is often a consequence of water penetration and/or condensation in homes that are not adequately heated and/or ventilated. Mould will only grow on damp surfaces, and in most cases, this is a direct result of condensation.
If you have damp and mould in your home, you are more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma. Damp and mould can also affect the immune system.
Mould growth can produce allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash and can also cause asthma attacks.
As a tenant, it is your responsibility to manage the mould in your home in the first instance.
Condensation occurs when the air, and/or surfaces, are cold, and when the moisture content of the air is high. Lack of air movement tends to be in corners, on or near windows, in or behind cupboards or wardrobes.
There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If the air gets colder, it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear on cold surfaces, typically windows, which can lead to black-spotted mould growth.
This is condensation. You may notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath or shower. It often forms on north-facing walls.
If you are having issues with dampness and condensation in your home, a dehumidifier can make a big difference. Dehumidifiers are not expensive to run, and running them all day will still only add a few pence to your energy bills.
As a tenant, it is your responsibility to manage the amount of condensation produced in your home.
Steps to avoid excess moisture
First, treat the mould already in your home. If you deal with the basic problem, mould should not reappear. If you have mould growth, it should be removed as soon as you see it.
Wipe down walls and window frames with soap and water or a fungicidal wash and dry the area thoroughly. Do not brush or use a vacuum as this can disturb the mould spores.
Dry-clean mildewed clothes, and shampoo carpets. Disturbing mould by brushing or vacuum cleaning can increase the risk of respiratory problems.
After treatment redecorate, using a good quality fungicidal paint to help prevent mould. Note that this paint is not effective if overlaid with ordinary paints or wallpaper. When wallpapering, use a paste containing a fungicide to prevent further mould growth.
The only lasting way of avoiding severe mould is to eliminate dampness.
Minimising the risk
Cover pans when cooking, keeping the kitchen door shut and leaving the windows open and/or extractor fan on.
Dry clothes outdoors or dry clothes in the bathroom, with the door shut, the heating on and the window open and/or extractor fan on.
Open the bathroom window and/or keep the extractor fan on when taking a shower or bath. Keep the bathroom door shut when taking a shower or bath.
Open the kitchen window and shut the kitchen door when cooking.
Do not leave condensation or any water which has accumulated on windows, window sills, walls or surfaces. Wipe the moisture off immediately.
Keep trickle vents in windows open. They are designed to ventilate your home without causing draughts
Do not over-ventilate your accommodation by leaving the windows open, as your walls will lose all the heat stored in them. Open the windows for a short period at a time so that any moisture can escape then close them.
If using a tumble dryer, it must be vented properly to the outside air.
If possible, keep a low background heat on all day, even in the bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, so if your house is heated adequately, you are less likely to have condensation dampness. It will cost more initially to warm the walls, but when the walls are dry your heating bills will reduce.
Do not overfill your cupboards and wardrobes. Keep your furniture away from the walls so that air can circulate. It is better to place furniture against internal walls than external walls which may be colder.
Do not block up external vents in any room where there is a gas cooker or fuel burning fire.
Do not over-crowd your home. The more people and pets living in your home, the more moisture will be produced, which needs to be removed.
Do not turn off any extractor fans in the bathroom or kitchen. Extractor fans are cheap to run, use less energy than a standard light bulb and can remove moist air quickly.
Insulation and draughtproofing
Insulation in the loft and cavity wall will help keep your home warm and reduce your fuel bills as well. If you feel your loft or cavity wall is not insulated sufficiently - please contact us.
In cold weather, the best way to keep rooms warm enough to avoid condensation is to keep low background heating on all day, even when there is no one at home.
If you have central heating, set it to provide background warmth to all rooms including unused rooms. If fitted, use thermostatically controlled radiator valves (TRVs). The thermostats will help control heating and costs. If your radiators do not have TRVs - please contact us.
If you would like to report damp and/or mould to us, you can call us on 01386 420800 and choose option '1' or complete the form below.