A guide to damp and mould Cornwall Housing

Is your home damp?

Condensation is the most common cause of damp. It is important to know how condensation forms and how you can keep it to a minimum, reducing the risk of dampness and mould growth in your home.

Less common things, such as leaking guttering, missing roof tiles or missing brickwork-pointing can also cause damp. If you see tidemarks or water stains on your walls or ceiling then you may have damp entering your property from outside. If the marks show at low level, your damp course may not be working effectively.

What is condensation?

Condensation happens mostly during cold weather and it does not matter if it is a rainy or dry. Condensation does not leave a ‘tidemark’. It shows up where there is little movement of air. You are most likely to find condensation in corners, on or near windows or behind wardrobes and cupboards.

Condensation occurs when warm moist air is produced in kitchens and bathrooms and then moves to colder parts of the house to settle. Warm air holds moisture and when it meets a cold surface, it cannot hold the moisture any longer and forms droplets of water. You can see this when the mirror mists over in the bathroom. We produce water vapour in large quantities from normal day to day activities - a 5 person household puts about 10 kg of water into the air every day (without taking into account any heating). Poorly ventilated and cold housing encourages the growth of mould on walls and furniture

First steps when dealing with condensation

You can deal with the condensation the warm air we produce leaves behind:

• Wipe down the windows and sills every morning. Wring out the cloth rather than drying it on a radiator

• Condensation channels and sponge strips can be purchased at DIY shops. Fit them to windows to collect the condensation to avoid damp forming under the sills. Take care to fit the devices properly

Mould and how to remove it

To remove and kill mould, wipe walls and window frames with an approved fungicidal wash by following the labelled instructions carefully

• Wash mildewed clothes and shampoo carpets. Disturbing mould by brushing or vacuuming can increase the risk of respiratory problems

• After treatment redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint to help prevent mould

This paint will not be effective if overpainted with ordinary paints or wallpaper. If wallpaper, use a fungicidal paste to prevent further mould growth

• The only way to stop mould completely is to eliminate condensation

How to prevent condensation

1. Produce less moisture in the home

Cover your pans. Do not leave kettles boiling.

COOKING: To reduce the amount of moisture produced, once boiling point is reached, reduce the heat and cover your pans. Do not leave kettles boiling. This will not only reduce condensation but will also save you money.

Hang washing outdoors to dry

WASHING CLOTHES: Hang washing outdoors to dry, or put it in the bathroom and close the door, open the window and the put the fan on. If you have a tumble dryer make sure you vent it to the outside (unless it is the self-condensing type).

Do not use paraffin or portable bottled gas heaters

Paraffin or portable bottled gas heaters produce a lot of moisture. One gallon of gas or paraffin produces a gallon of water. If you have a condensation problem, find an alternative means of heating.

2. Ventilate your home to remove the moisture

Ventilate your home without making draughts

You can ventilate your home without making draughts. Ventilation is needed to keep the air moving which gets rid of the moisture being produced. This even includes condensation from people’s breath. Keep a small window ajar or a trickle ventilator open all the time.

▫▫You need extra ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom. This means opening the windows wider or having an extractor fan running

▫▫ Close the kitchen and bathroom doors when these rooms are in use even if your kitchen or bathroom has an extractor fan. Doing this will help stop the moisture reaching other rooms, especially bedrooms, which are often colder and more likely to get condensation to settle

▫▫ A closed curtain or blind will make the surface of the window cooler and increase condensation, especially with single glazed windows. If fitted, open the trickle ventilators on your windows

▫▫ Leave your cupboards and wardrobes slightly open to ventilate

▫▫ Leave a good space between the backs of wardrobes and the wall

▫▫ Allow space for the air to circulate in and around your furniture

▫▫ Try not to place wardrobes and furniture against outside walls, outside walls are colder

3. Insulate and draught proof

Do not block permanent ventilators

Draught proofing windows and doors will help keep your home warm and lower fuel bills. When the whole home is warmer, condensation is less likely to occur because the moisture will not find cold surfaces to settle.

When draught proofing or insulating remember:

▫▫ Do not block permanent ventilators

▫▫ Do not draught proof rooms where there is a heater (e.g. gas fire) or cooker

▫▫ Do not completely block chimneys

▫▫ Do not draught proof windows in the bathroom or kitchen

4. Background heating and draught proof

Background heating

To avoid condensation in cold weather, keep low background heating on all day, even when no-one is home. This is very important in flats and bungalows where the bedrooms are not above a warm living room. If you have central heating set it to provide background warmth in all rooms including unused rooms.

Alternatively install suitable thermostatically controlled heaters where necessary. The thermostats will help control heating and costs. Remember to provide background ventilation at the same time.

If you need any further advice about how to deal with damp, condensation or mould, please see our website - cornwallhousing.org.uk.

Cornwall Housing, Chy Trevail, Beacon Technology Park, Bodmin, Cornwall. PL31 2FR

Email: info@cornwallhousing.org.uk - Telephone: 0300 1234 161


Created with images by laura_graciela - "rain glass cold" • Peyman Zehtab Fard - "mold-1"

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