Advice for Residents for Managing Mould and Condensation
There has been a lot of publicity recently about damp and mould within people’s homes – leading to a variety of problems. The information in this section is here to help you understand more about what can cause these conditions in your home and to help you to play your part in making sure this doesn’t occur or create problems. We recognise that damp, condensation and mould can seriously affect health in some circumstances and we want to work with you to make sure we eliminate any risks. Do contact us if you have any concerns. You can use the form on our website or you can contact your Housing Officer or our Repairs Team on 0204 551 0080.
Thanks in part to the UK’s climate, the environment in the home where people live, work and play can become damp. Too much moisture in your home can lead to damp and mould conditions. This is often due to condensation, however, condensation isn’t the only cause of damp and mould. It also comes from:
- Leaking pipes, wastes or overflows;
- 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 or some other building defect; and
- Rising damp due to a defective damp course or because there is no damp course.
If you think one of these is an issue at your property, please contact CDS right away.
In most cases, damp and mould will be caused by condensation that can be managed through changes in your lifestyle. As laid out in you tenancy, it is your responsibility to manage condensation to prevent mould. Find out below what easy changes you can make to ensure that your home remains free from condensation.
Are your wall surfaces, windows, furniture or clothing damp? If so, it is likely that you have a condensation problem. You may even be able to see black mould growing on your belongings.
Condensation is at its worst during cold weather, whether it is raining or dry. It appears on cold surfaces and in places where there is little movement of air. It forms when warm moist air and steam are produced and the warm air comes into contact with, and condenses on, a cold surface before it can leave the building. Look for it in corners, on or near windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards. It often forms on north-facing walls.
How to Minimise Condensation
There is no immediate solution for condensation, but you can take steps to improve the situation. Remember, as the occupier you are responsible for balancing the three main factors which impact condensation. These are Heating, Ventilation and Moisture.
Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture quickly and the more people you have living in your home, the more moisture will be produced. This is one reason that overcrowded housing is unsuitable and can be unsafe.
These steps will help you reduce the condensation in your home by producing less moisture:
- Cover pots and pans and do not leave kettles boiling.
- Avoid using paraffin and portable bottled gas heaters as these heaters produce a lot of moisture in the air.
- Try not to dry washing on radiators.
- If possible, dry washing outdoors on a line or put it in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open or the fan on.
- Tumble dryers must be vented to the outside.
- Open curtains during the day.
- Leave a small gap between external walls and bulky furniture and do not overfill your home with furniture and clutter.
You can ventilate your home without making draughts to reduce moisture:
- Keep a small window ajar when someone is in the room.
- If your windows have been recently renewed open the trickle ventilators provided (pictured above).
- Ventilate kitchens and bathrooms when in use by opening the windows wider, or better still, use a humidity-controlled electric fan if one is fitted.
- Never turn off your extractor fan at the spur. Many are on timers or stay on as long as the humidity is high. The cost to run an extractor fan is very low and it is crucial to ventilating your property.
- Close the kitchen and bathroom doors when these rooms are in use, even if your kitchen and bathroom have an extractor fan. This will help prevent moisture reaching other rooms, especially bedrooms, which are often colder and more likely to get condensation.
- Do not block air-brick vents (pictured below).
- Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes.
- Avoid putting too many things in cupboards and wardrobes as this stops the air circulating.
- Cut a ventilation slot in the back of each shelf or use slatted shelves.
- Where possible, position wardrobes and furniture against internal walls.
Things to Avoid:
- Do not block permanent ventilators.
- Do not draught-proof rooms where there is condensation or mould.
- Do not draught-proof windows in the bathroom and kitchen.
- Do not tamper with any ventilation or extractor unit installed within your property.
Heating and Insulation
You can make sure that you have adequate heating and insulation in your home to reduce moisture:
- The biggest cause of condensation is related to fluctuations in the temperature in your home. Condensation and mould is least likely to be a problem in homes with constant temperatures.
- As you will know from debates within your own home and family, thermal comfort ranges are very subjective. When at home, the ideal temperature usually ranges between 19-22 degrees Celsius in the living rooms, including the kitchen and bathroom, and 16-20 degrees Celsius in the bedrooms.
- Even when away from home, the temperature in your home should not drop under 15 degrees Celsius to avoid condensation and increased humidity levels.
- Do not heat up cold bedrooms in the evening by opening the door to heated rooms. The warm and humid air will condensate on the cold walls of the bedroom and this could lead to dampness in your bedroom.
- Good insulation of the building creates warmer walls and ceilings, and therefore inhibits mould growth by preventing condensation from forming on them. Note: tight-fitting, double glazed windows require more active ventilation.
Support in Heating Your Home
We know that you may be worried about the cost of heating your home. Do not worry, there is support available to help keep your home heated during winter. The Cold Weather Payment, Warm Home Discount Scheme, Winter Fuel Scheme, may be able to support you if you have a low income or are of pension age. You can find out more about these here. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our Welfare and Benefits Support Service, who will able to tell you more about what support is available to you.
If you are not eligible for any of the heating benefits mentioned above, then you may stay be able to save money on your heating bills by looking to switch your energy supplier. Ofgem (the government regulator of the gas and electricity markets) estimate that around 11 million homes are on a standard or default energy tariffs (around 1 in 3). This means that there are many households who could save money by checking that you are getting the best deal available.
Have a look Ofgem’s website to find out more: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/how-switch-energy-supplier-and-shop-better-deal
We also have a hardship fund for residents who are struggling with heating or other bills. You can findout more here Welfare Advice & Our Hardship Fund or speak with your Housing Officer.
First Steps Against Mould
To avoid mould in the first place, you should always wipe down condensation on windows or walls when you see it.
Should mould be present in your home, you should treat it as soon as you notice it so it doesn’t become worse and cause damage. If you then deal with the underlying causes of condensation, mould should not reappear.
- To kill and remove mould, wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash, which carries a Health and Safety Executive ‘approval number’. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely. You can find this in a DIY shop and sometimes in supermarkets.
- Dry-clean mildewed clothes and shampoo carpets.
- After treatment, redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint to prevent mould recurring.
Note: this paint is not effective if overlaid with ordinary paints or wallpaper.
- The long-term solution to avoiding severe mould is to eliminate dampness.
You can carry out some of these measures at very little cost and you can also contact us for help with this at an early stage.
If these steps are followed you will be doing what you can to minimise condensation in your home – but it can sometimes be a persistent problem. We will work with you to find the right balance of measures to make sure your comfort and your health are not affected.
If you suspect that your damp issue is not related to condensation, then please let us know as soon as possible. Rising damp (which appears up to a metre from the floor) and penetrative damp are often due to building faults and if this is the case they are our responsibility as your landlord. If you are unsure and want to find out more then get in touch with our Repairs Team today.