Damp and mould

How to prevent condensation, damp and mould in your home

Damp and mould can have many different causes:

  • Leaking pipes, wastes or overflows
  • Rain seeping through the roof, spilling from a blocked gutter, coming in around window frames, or leaking through a cracked pipe
  • Rising damp due to a damp course not working or because there is no damp course
  • Faulty brickwork
  • Water used during construction, if your home is newly built and still drying out.

These causes of penetrating damp often leave a 'tidemark'. If you believe it to be one of the above causes, you should contact us. You should have the necessary repairs carried out to remove the source of damp. It may take several weeks of ventilation to dry your home out, but using a dehumidifier will help.

If you do not think the damp comes from any of the above causes, it is probably caused by condensation.

Everybody generates moisture in their homes through normal daily activities such as cooking and bathing. Condensation of moisture and water vapour occurs on colder surfaces. Mould spores form on the surface when the vapour condenses into water.

Residents are responsible for ensuring that they create the right combination of heating, ventilation and treatment to keep their homes free from the effects of condensation. Always remember to mop up any condensation or water as it forms or daily.

Understanding condensation

What is condensation?

There is always some moisture in the air, even if you can’t see it. If the air gets colder it can’t hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation - one of the main causes of damp. You may notice it when you see your breath on a cold day. You can also see it when the mirror mists over after you have a bath.

Too much condensation can lead to mould growth. Mould often appears around windows, in corners of rooms and behind furniture where there is less air movement.

Condensation occurs mainly during cold weather, usually from October to April, whether it is raining or dry. It does not leave a 'tidemark' and appears in places where there is little movement of air. Look for black mould in corners of rooms, on or near windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards. It will often form on north-facing walls that don’t get direct heat from the sun.

 

 

How to reduce condensation

Doors

  • Keep internal kitchen and bathroom doors shut. Do this when cooking, washing or bathing. If you do not then water vapour will spread right through the house. Condensation will probably reach external walls and ceilings in the other cooler rooms, particularly bedrooms.
  • Don’t warm unheated bedrooms by leaving the door to a heated room open. This will cause warm, damp air to form condensation on cold surfaces.

Curtains

  • Keep furniture and curtains away from radiators.
  • Keep curtains open on sunny days to allow warm air to circulate.

Ventilation and windows

  • The more moisture produced in your home, the greater the chances of condensation and mould. There needs to be ventilation good enough to stop this. Nobody likes draughts, but some ventilation is essential.
  • Open windows where possible. Try to create cross ventilation by opening more than one window in your home.
  • In winter, open the windows a little when they mist up.
  • If you fit draught stripping, leave a space for a small amount of air to get through.
  • If you have an extractor fan, use it when cooking or having a bath/shower. This stops the windows getting steamed up.

Kettles and pans

  • Don't allow kettles and pans to boil away any longer than is necessary.
  • Always put the lid on the saucepan.

Heating and insulation

  • You will get less condensation if you keep your home warm most of the time. It is preferable to keep a steady low level of heating throughout the day. This is better than heating your home from cold each time.
  • Use the thermostats and/or thermostatic radiator valves (if fitted) to control your heating.  This should also help to reduce your heating bills.

Drying clothes

  • Drying clothes indoors, particularly on radiators, will increase condensation. Open a window to allow air to circulate.
  • If you have to dry your washing at home then it's best to do so by using a clothes airer. Do this in the kitchen or bathroom. Shut the door, turn on the radiator and run the extractor fan if there is one. Open the window a little.
  • If your tumble dryer is not vented to the outside, it must have a vent installed directly to the outside. This should be done by a qualified technician. 

Beds, cupboards and wardrobes

  • Don't overfill cupboards and wardrobes. Always make sure that some air can circulate freely. Do this by fitting ventilators in doors and leaving a space at the back of the shelves.
  • Keep beds, mattresses, blankets, quilts and pillows away from external walls so that the air can circulate freely.

Chimneys

  • Never block chimneys as it could be dangerous. If you are covering up a fireplace you must at least fit an air vent to allow ventilation. 

Baths and showers

  • Always remember to put a small amount of cold water in the bath before you turn on the hot tap.
  • Do not run your shower for longer than needed.

 

How to treat mould

To treat and remove mould, wipe down the walls, ceiling, windows and door frames with a fungicidal wash. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not use bleach because this is water based and does not actually remove the mould.

Do not try to remove the mould by brushing or vacuum cleaning. This can increase the risk of respiratory problems. Occupants of buildings with damp or mould are at increased risk of experiencing health problems. These include respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis and asthma.

The only way of avoiding severe mould is by eliminating the dampness. If you deal with the basic problems of condensation, the mould should not reappear.

If you have treated and tried to remove the mould but it keeps returning then please contact us. All reports of damp and mould will be inspected.

Hastoe's responsibilities

Dealing with Damp and Mould
Where damp is due to condensation
Inspection timeframes

It is your responsibility to report any damp and mould problems to us as soon as possible. All reports of damp and mould will be inspected. When we receive a report, we will either raise a repair order there and then or inspect the property to undertake a more detailed investigation. This investigation will help to determine the cause of the damp and mould. In some cases, this may be complex and take longer to resolve. We may also send you data loggers to record the level of moisture and temperature in your home.

We will work with you to take appropriate measures to prevent the damp and mould occurring. We will advise you on how to control moisture levels or increase ventilation or heating, so that damp levels are kept low. When a particularly severe or recurring damp or mould issue is identified we will undertake a detailed investigation and risk assessment to determine the actions needed. We will work with you to resolve this.

In the most complex cases we may require you to move out of your home on a temporary or permanent basis. We will consider the individual circumstances of each resident. We will ensure that appropriate checks are carried out at the property to ensure it is suitable for you to return to.

Once you have reported any damp and mould, you will be contacted within 48 hours for further information. We will determine the priority of each report of damp and mould as high, medium or low. 

High priority cases will require an order raised to a contractor to remediate any leaks within 24 hours and an inspection to take place within 2 weeks. Medium priority cases will be inspected within 4 weeks. Low priority cases will be inspected within 8 weeks.

We will follow-up after any repairs to check it has resolved the problem and confirm any follow-on works necessary.

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