Damp and Mould

How to avoid condensation and mould in your home

During the winter months, many properties suffer from damp and mould growth due to condensation.

Causes and signs of condensation

Air can hold moisture - 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). Mould often occurs because of condensation.  It appears as pinpoint black spots, usually on the side surfaces of external walls, in corners and in poorly ventilated spaces, such as behind cupboards and wardrobes.

  • Condensation control - The control of condensation requires a combination of sufficient heating, ventilation, and insulation.
  • Heating - By introducing low level heating, the temperature of internal surfaces will rise. This will reduce cooling of any moisture-laden air and, as a result, the amount of condensation.
  • Insulation - Thermal insulation, such as loft or cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and double glazing, will help to reduce the amount of heat lost from a property. This will not only help keep internal room temperatures higher but will also help to keep fuel bills down.
  • Ventilation - Adequate ventilation is essential to allow moisture-laden air to escape from the home before condensation occurs. Extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom, can prove very effective in reducing condensation, especially when fitted with an effective humidistat control.

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
  • Keep lids on saucepans when cooking
  • Keep bathroom doors closed when bathing, and open windows slightly 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
Extreme cases of damp and mould 

In extreme cases, try the following:

  • A dehumidifier, which extracts moisture from the air, can be bought or hired 
  • 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.
  • Mould-inhibiting paints and sprays can also help to reduce the effects of condensation.
  • Check all accessible plumbing for leaks., Check guttering and down pipes for cracks and blockages, for example, leaves or debris in gutters. Check the overflows and waste pipes under sinks for leaks. Investigate possible roof leaks, damaged outside walls or eroded pointing as well as high garden or path levels overlapping the damp proof course to the exterior of the property

This type of damp is called penetrating damp, and generally leaves 'tide marks' and mould growth around the area of defect.

If you notice damp and mould in your home, early treatment is very important. If left untreated, the problem can worsen very quickly. Severe damp and mould can give your home a musty odour, make it unpleasant to look at, and make it harder to get rid of. The best solution is prevention. Mould can be prevented and reduced by following some simple tips in your home.

Addressing mould

Wipe away any condensation daily. Wiping condensation away with a dry cloth will help prevent mould from growing. This can be on windows and sills, and surfaces in your kitchen and your bathroom.

Ventilate your home  

  • Close doors when you are cooking, having a bath, or sleeping to prevent moisture from spreading throughout your home 
  • Use extractor fans and open windows slightly to reduce condensation 
  • Move furniture slightly away from walls to make sure air can circulate behind it, reducing the amount of moist air
  • Dry clothes on a drying rack next to an open window rather than on a radiator, or outside when possible
  • Put lids on pans when cooking
  • Fill your bath with 1 to 2 inches of cold water before adding hot water to reduce condensation by around 80%

Heating your home 

In cold months, the best way to keep rooms warm and avoid condensation, is to keep the background heat on low all day rather than short bursts of high heat. Try and keep your thermostat between 18 to 22ÂșC. Keeping a home warm and at a level temperature during colder months is advised. However, turning up the heating alone will not sort out the problem.

Treating mould yourself

If you have small amounts of mould in your home, for example, on your windowsills or around the sealants of your bath or shower, it is quick and easy to treat. However, it must be done properly to keep your home safe and stop it from returning. Where the cause of the mould is related to building faults (such as a leak) and/or the mould is present in the building structure and materials it is recommended that you seek professional help.

Whether the job is undertaken by a contractor or yourself, care has to be taken to avoid contact with microscopic mould spores and the spread of spores within the building. If cleaning away mould wear rubber gloves, goggles without ventilation/air holes and a protective mask which covers your nose and mouth. To get rid of mould you can use a vacuum cleaner and empty it afterwards or use a damp cloth that you throw away afterwards.  Do not brush the mould as it releases spores into the air that may cause you breathing problems. Always, open windows before, during and after the clean-up and remeber to close doors tightly to prevent mould spores transferring to other areas of the building.

To clean away mould, wipe down affected areas using a mild detergent such as washing up liquid, diluted bleach or a fungicidal wash (Always follow the safety instructions on the bottle). You can also try using tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant.  Mix three to four drops of tea tree oil with two litres of hot or cold water, spray it onto bad spots and then wipe/rinse it off.  Make sure to do a test on a small bit of the fabric/surface beforehand to avoid discoloration. Allow the surface to dry and hoover the room to remove mould spores disturbed and transferred during removal before redecorating using a fungicidal paint or wallpaper paste.

If the mould and damp in your home gets worse OR If you have tried to remove the mould and it comes back or gets worse, please contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 01543 462621 or email: privatesectorhousing@cannockchasedc.gov.uk


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