Damp and Condensation
Keeping out the damp
Damp is one of the most common problems found in the home. It can cause mould on walls and furniture and can cause wooden window frames to rot. It can be bad for health of people living in a property and it’s important to get advice if you think your home is affected.
Damp can come from:
- leaking pipes
- waste pipes or overflows
- water spilling from a blocked gutter
- rain coming through holes in roofs where a tile or slate is missing
- water penetrating through window frames
- rising damp due to a defective or missing damp course* (if your home is newly-built it could be damp because water used during its construction e.g. in plaster is still drying out)
If you do not see any of these telltale signs then damp could be caused by condensation.
What is condensation?
Every home gets condensation at some time. There is always moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. When the air in your home gets colder and it cannot hold all the moisture, tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation. Condensation forms when warm moist air and steam are produced, e.g. during cooking, washing clothes and bathing etc. The warm air comes into contact with and condenses on a cold surface before it can leave the building. It is quite normal for your windows to get misted up in the morning after a cold night and there is nothing much you can do to stop this. Condensation does not leave a tidemark.
Condensation is one cause of damp. If you reduce condensation in your home then you can reduce your chances of dampness and the problems that result from this, such as mould growth.
How to reduce condensation
To avoid condensation you need to produce less moisture, ventilate to remove moisture and ensure that your home is properly insulated and draught proofed.
- cover pans with a lid whilst cooking or boiling water
- dry washing outdoors on a line or put it in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open. Do not dry washing on radiators
- make sure tumble dryers are vented to the outside
- close kitchen and bathroom doors when the rooms are in use, to prevent moisture reaching other rooms
- keep kitchens and bathrooms well-ventilated.
- do not switch off or remove the fuse from the extractor fan in the kitchen or bathroom
- try to position wardrobes and furniture against internal walls
- ventilate wardrobes and cupboards and avoid putting too many things in them since this stops air from circulating
- insulation and draught-proofing will help keep a home warm and will also cut fuel bills. Condensation is less likely when the whole house or flat is warm
- insulate the loft
- do not block permanent ventilators
- do not draught-proof rooms and kitchen/bathroom windows when there is condensation or mould present.
Mould can be removed, but will re-appear if the problems causing the damp or condensation are not dealt with. To kill and remove mould growth from your walls:
- wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash. Fungicidal washes are available from most supermarkets.
- after washing down mouldy surfaces they can be painted with a good quality fungicidal paint
- do not disturb mould by brushing or vacuuming because this can increase the risk of respiratory problems.