Damp and Mould
When the weather turns colder, condensation and mould can form more easily. We receive a significant number of reports of mould from October to March. Over the warmer months, there are barely any issues.
What is damp?
There are four main types of dampness that could affect your home. It is important to understand the difference between them.
1. Rising damp
- This is caused by water rising from the ground into the home - this will only affect ground floor rooms. Signs include crumbling plaster, "tide mark" low down on ground floor walls and white salts on affected areas. Black mould is rarely seen as building salts are present which prevent the growth of black mould.
2. Penetrating damp
- This is caused by a defect outside the home, such as missing pointing to the brickwork, faulty guttering, cracked rendering or missing roof tiles. Signs include damp patches on walls or ceilings which darken after rain. Black mould is rarely seen as it is usually too wet and building salts are present which prevent the growth of black mould.
3. Defective plumbing
- Leaks from water and waste pipes, most common in bathrooms and kitchens. Signs include areas feeling damp to touch and remaining damp regardless of the weather conditions. Black mould is rarely seen as it is usually too wet and detergent is often present which prevents mould growth.
- This is caused by moisture in the air in your home turning into water from activities such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and even breathing. Condensation will form on the coldest surfaces in the room first, usually around windows, the corners of the room, and external walls. Condensation mainly occurs during cold weather, regardless of whether it is raining or dry. Black mould is frequently seen on this type of dampness. Signs include water droplets and black mould appearing on colder surfaces such as walls, windows, ceilings or mirrors. Steps you can take to reduce mould and condensation can be found below.
What is mould?
Mould is a type of fungus that grows and develops in damp or humid conditions where condensation is present. Mould is reduced by keeping your home warm, well ventilated and minimising the amount of moisture that's released into the air within your home. Steps you can take to reduce mould and condensation can be found below.
Steps you can take to reduce condensation and mould:
1. Ventilate your home
- Keep trickle vents open at all times - these are small plastic strips in double glazing frames. They are there to help ventilate your home.
- Open curtains during the day to allow air to the windows and frames in order to prevent black mould
- Do not block air vents; keep them open at all times.
- Use extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms. If you do not have an extractor fan or it is broken, please contact your landlord.
- ventilate your bedroom by leaving a window slightly open at night (if safe to do so) or use the trickle vents if fitted.
- Cross-ventilate your home - open a small window downstairs to the first notch, then a small window upstairs. They should be on opposite sides of your home. At the same time, open the interior room doors, this will allow drier air to circulate.
NOTE: make sure that accessible windows will not cause a security problem and remember to close the windows when you go out.
2. Minimise the amount of moisture in your home
- Wipe down condensation from windows and other areas every morning and open the window for a while.
- Dry clothes outside, or in a room (preferably the bathroom) with a window open/extractor fan running, and door closed. Avoid putting wet clothes on a radiator.
- Keep lids on saucepans when cooking and ventilate the kitchen with a window open or extractor fan running, and door closed. Wipe away any excess water on tiling and worktops. Food cooks up to 30% faster with the lid on the saucepan meaning you are using less energy. Only use the minimum amount of water for cooking vegetables.
- Run the extractor fan or open a window when bathing and wipe away any excess water on floors and tiling. Running cold water in the bath before adding hot water reduces condensation.
- After cooking or bathing leave the kitchen or bathroom doors closed so the moisture does not escape into the rest of your home.
- Ensure air can circulate freely around the home, including around larger pieces of furniture - leave a gap between the furniture and the wall. Do not overfill wardrobes and cupboards as this restricts air circulation.
3. Heat your home
- It's recommended to keep living rooms heated to 21 degrees and keep bedrooms at 18 degrees. You do not have to maintain these temperatures all the time but try to reach them for part of the day.
- Try to ensure your home is evenly heated, to prevent certain rooms becoming too cold and causing condensation. But if you don't heat every room, keep the doors of unheated rooms open to allow some heat into them and the air to circulate.
- The cost of living has increased for everyone. Useful information is available at www.boston.gov.uk/costofliving
4. Wipe down patches of mould
- Use an anti-fungal spray purchased from a hardware store or supermarket and use in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. This helps to limit any spread. You might need to do this at least twice a month in winter.
- After treating any mould issues, you might want to redecorate using a fungicidal paint to help prevent recurring mould.
- Wash affected clothes and shampoo affected carpets (ensuring the room is well ventilated to assist drying)
REMEMBER - if damage has been caused to a property because tenants have not properly managed condensation which has led to mould, then repairs may be charged to the tenants.
The only lasting cure for mould is to reduce the amount of condensation you are creating by using the heating more and ventilating the property effectively.