During the cold months, it is very common for properties to suffer from damp and mould growth due to condensation.
Mildew and mould are fungi, which are extremely happy in the damp environment. They can lead to significant damage to our homes and cause some serious health issues like respiratory problems, irritation of skin and eyes, strong headache, and sinus congestion.
It is more dangerous for the very young, the elderly, those with underlying health conditions and weakened immune systems.
The warmer the air, the most moisture it can hold.
If moist air is cooled by contact with cold surfaces, such as walls, windows or mirrors, the moisture condenses into water droplets (known as condensation)
The control of condensation requires a combination of sufficient heating, ventilation, and insulation.
Continuous low level background heating would be beneficial instead of any short bursts of heat.
Double glazing, draught proofing, loft, or wall insulation will help to reduce the amount of heath lost.
Ventilation is the key to allow moisture-laden air to escape from the home before condensation occurs.
Having extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, where moisture is more likely to appear, will be very effective in reducing the condensation.
How to reduce condensation
- Pull wardrobes and furniture away from walls, and keep tops of wardrobes clear, to allow air to circulate
- Close doors and open windows when cooking and having bath/ shower
- Keep lids on pots and saucepans when cooking
- Keep bathroom doors closed when bathing, and open windows afterwards
- Do not dry clothes on radiators, unless ventilation is increased
- Only use Liquid Petroleum Gas or paraffin heaters in ventilated rooms, as these fuels produce water vapour during combustion
- A dehumidifier, which extracts moisture from the air, can be bought or hired. There are a lot of choice on the market and the pricing is reasonable.
- Wipe down surfaces affected by condensation regularly to prevent mould growth
- Mould can be removed by washing the surface with a disinfectant or a fungicidal wash. This must be used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
- Wipe the wet stains from surfaces after every use – sinks, kitchen counters, bathroom tiles,
- Aerate wardrobes and cupboards every few days
- Let carpets and upholstery dry completely after cleaning them.
- Clean behind large pieces of furniture, such as wardrobes and beds, at least twice a year – during the Spring and Autumn cleaning.
- Ensure your fish tank is covered with a lid to prevent it from creating unwanted moisture in your home.
- If you use a room on a regular basis and the weather outside isn’t too chilly, open a window to improve the ventilation in the room.
- Avoid leaving wet towels on the floor as this will cause mould growth and create a musty damp smell
Mould-inhibiting paints and sprays can also help to reduce the effects of condensation.
Other causes of damp
Check the following:
- All accessible plumbing for leaks
- Guttering and down pipes for cracks and blockages, for example, leaves
- Overflows and waste pipes under sinks for leaks
- Possible roof leaks
- Damaged outside walls or eroded pointing
- High garden or path levels overlapping the damp proof course
This type of damp is called penetrating damp, and generally leaves ‘tide marks’ and mould growth around the area of defect.
Signs which may indicate you have a problem in your home
- A musty smell
- Peeling paint and wallpaper
- Dark, damp patches on the walls
- Walls, floors and ceilings that feel cold or wet
- Excessive condensation on windows
- Mould growth on walls, floors and ceilings
What are the symptoms of mould exposure
- Watery eyes
- Coughing or wheezing
- A constant cold or sniffling
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Swollen glands/inflamed throat
- Skin irritations and flare ups