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S&H Maintenance - Dealing With Damp At Home

Simon Tandy, WEBX member and owner of S&H Maintenance gave an informative 10-minute presentation at the weekly WEBX networking business breakfast this week on Dealing with Damp at Home.

Dealing With Damp At Home

A build-up of moisture in the home can cause a range of problems, and can potentially damage the fabric of the building if allowed to continue. And if mould starts to grow this can even affect the health of the occupants.

Moisture can get into your home in a number of ways:

  • Rain can get in through leaking roofs, blocked or damaged guttering, leaky walls and poorly fitting doors and windows

  • Leaks from plumbing faults, failed appliances and poorly sealed baths and showers can quickly build up, often where you can't see them.

  • Groundwater can rise up through the walls and floor if the damp proof course isn’t working properly.

  • We add moisture to the air all the time just by breathing, we produce over 400ml of water vapour per day, as well as from cooking, from drying clothes, and from our pets and house plants.

  • An average family of 4 can produce 14 litres of water vapour in just one day.

If you have rainwater getting in, or any internal leaks or signs of rising damp, then it’s important to get the problem sorted out quickly, and you’ll usually need a professional to come in and advise you. But the moisture in the air can cause problems too if it leads to too much condensation.

Managing condensation in the home

Condensation can effect properties of any age or size. It is more problematic in buildings that are poorly heated and poorly insulated or ventilated and is usually more noticeable in the winter months. Moisture in the air will form condensation (droplets of liquid water) when it comes into contact with a cold surface such as a window. We all get condensation on the windows from time to time, but this isn’t necessarily a problem if it clears up quickly.

Problems start if the water builds up to the point where it starts to cause damage. And if it’s building up somewhere other than on the window, you may not notice until the wallpaper starts to peel or black mould starts to grow. Moulds require high levels of moisture on surfaces to flourish, moulds can grow on walls once they reach 80% RH (Relative Humidity) at this stage the room will likely be at 70% RH. This is most likely to happen in places that are colder than the rest of the house, such as exposed corners and where there is a gap in the insulation, and where the air can’t circulate freely, such as behind furniture.

If you do have mould growing, it’s good to clean it off straight away to minimise any health risk, but you also need to fix the underlying damp problem to stop it coming back. If you don’t have any leaks or rising damp issues then the problem is almost certainly condensation, and there are several things you can do to help avoid problems in the future:

  • Reduce the amount of moisture produced in the first place by keeping lids on pans when cooking, drying clothes outside when possible, and if you use a tumble dryer, making sure it’s vented to the outside or is self-condensing.

  • Ventilate so the moist air leaves the house – always use the extractor fan when you’re cooking, showering or bathing, leave any window vents open, and don’t block off any other vents. Good idea to check the size of the fan is adequate and possibly install an inline fan.

  • Make sure air can circulate by leaving gaps between furniture and the wall.

  • Try to avoid cold spots – if there’s a gap between your wall insulation and your loft insulation, for example, try to get this fixed as it will attract condensation and possibly mould.

  • Consider adding more ventilation – this could be a new external vent in a problem corner, a new extractor fan, or even a whole house ventilation system if you need it.

  • Don’t fit any new draught-proofing in a room that already has a condensation problem, and if you’re getting a professional to fit insulation, draught-proofing or new windows or doors, ask them what they have done to check that ventilation will still be adequate.

  • Trickle vents can be added to windows that haven’t got them already. I did this recently for a landlord to 5 windows in a 1 bed flat that was empty but still getting condensation on the windows, this alone was enough to solve the problem and was relatively cheap and very easy to install.

  • Talking of landlords, I was at a council seminar for Landlords and a speaker there mentioned that once PPI was all over the Companies pushing it would be looking for another avenue to target & Landlords would be an easy as changes to renting laws and living conditions was opening up the doors to compensation claims from tenants for ill health and substandard living conditions, from asthma to mouldy clothes.

  • To protect yourself from blame you must ensure your property is fit to rent and live in, with the correct level of insulation, ventilation and an adequate central heating system.

  • Night storage heaters are a big NO NO as they compound issues of condensation and damp. Unfortunately, they are still found in many properties, especially rented ones!

  • You can hear the adverts now “ Do you Rent? Is your home damp? Is it affecting your family’s health? You may be entitled to compensation – CALL US NOW!!!

If you have any concerns about damp in your home, call Simon from S&H Maintenance for a free no obligation quote on 07841 115729

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