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Dealing with Damp and Condensation

Is your home damp?

Damp can cause mould, which will grow and live on home furnishings, walls, ceilings and can cause rot to timber around the homes.
Damp houses encourage the growth of mould which in turn increases the risk of respiratory illness. More often than not damp found in homes is caused by condensation.

What is condensation?
You will always find moisture in the air, even though it’s not visible to the eye. If the air gets colder, it cannot hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear, you will find this is most common around the windows in your home. This is condensation. You can notice it when you can see your breath on a cold day, or when your bathroom mirror mists over when taking a shower.

Condensation mainly occurs during the colder months, whether it is raining or dry. It appears on cold surfaces and in places where there is little movement of air.

Look for it in corners, on or near windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards. It often forms on north facing walls.

Why is it a problem?
Left untreated, condensation can result in mould growth on walls, ceilings, furniture, furnishings, and clothing in cupboards and drawers. It can also affect plaster and cause woodwork to rot.

What are the different types of dampness?

Damp is generally caused by a fault in the structure of the building. There are two basic types of damp:

  • Penetrating damp happens when water enters your home through an external defect (for example, a crack in a wall or a loose roof tile)
  • Rising damp is when there is a problem with the damp proof course or membrane and water rises from the ground into the walls or floor

Is it condensation?

Condensation is not the only cause of damp. It can also come from:

  • Leaking pipes, overflows and wastes
  • Rain seeping through the roof where a tile or slate is missing, spilling from a blocked gutter, penetrating around window frames, or leaking through a cracked pipe
  • Rising damp due to a defective damp course or because there is no damp-course
  • Damp proof course being ‘bridged’ by soil piled against the outside wall

How to avoid condensation

These quick and easy steps will help you reduce condensation in your home:

Produce less moisture

Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture very quickly.

  • Cover pans when cooking and do not leave kettles boiling
  • Dry washing outdoors on a line, or put it in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open or with the fan on
  • Vent any tumble dryer on the outside, unless it is the self condensing type

Ventilate to remove moisture

You can ventilate your home without making draughts.

  • Try and keep a small window ajar when someone is in the room
  • Ventilate the kitchen and bathroom when in use by opening the window or better still, use a humidistat controlled electric fan. These
    are relatively cheap to use and they automatically run when air becomes humid in the room
  • Close kitchen and bathroom doors when these rooms are in use, even if your kitchen or bathroom has an extractor fan as this will help prevent moisture reaching the other rooms, especially bedrooms, which are often colder and more likely to get condensation
  • Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes. Avoid putting too many things in them as this stops the air circulating and leave space between the back of the wardrobes and the wall. Where possible, position wardrobes and furniture against internal walls
  • When window units are replaced, the new frames incorporate trickle vents which should be opened to help reduce moisture in the room

Insulate, draught-proof and heat your home

Insulation and draught-proofing will help keep your home warm and will also cut fuel bills. When the whole home is warmer, condensation is less likely.

Take steps against mould

  • First of all, treat any mould you may already have in your home. If you continue to deal with the basic problems of condensation, mould should not reappear.
  • To kill and remove mould, wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicide wash. Fungicide can be found in many household cleaning appliances, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely. You will need to dry clean mildewed clothes and shampoo carpets.
  • After treatment, redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint to help prevent mould recurring. Note that this paint is not effective if overlaid with ordinary paints or wallpaper

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