A common complaint from tenants is that there is mould growing in their property and they believe that this is damp. The usual causes of damp are water ingress from roof leaks, blocked gutters, rising damp or cracks in external walls.
Very often, mould is not caused by damp at all and is instead down to condensation. Poor ventilation causes condensation in a property, resulting in moisture building on walls and around windows. It is therefore a TENANT CAUSED PROBLEM. It occurs by not opening windows, curtains or drying clothes on radiators and airers or leaving the door open when showering and cooking.
Condensation looks like black spots on the walls and is an easy problem to solve by simply opening the windows on a regular basis. A Landlord is not responsible for paying for repairs to condensation affected areas and this is a common deduction from a tenant’s deposit.
We have previously written an article in relation to the Human Habitation Act 2018. This may be beneficial to read also – https://harringtonslettings.co.uk/the-human-habitation-act-2018-a-guide-for-landlords/
There are three main causes of condensation:
1) The level of moisture in the air (e.g. steam/heat emitted from cooking or showering)
2) The temperature of the air in your home (e.g. not ventilating the property correctly)
3) The surface temperature of the windows
Cooking, drying clothes, showering, even breathing – adds to the moisture in the air. By allowing the moisture to build up it can cause condensation. This can increase the risk of respiratory illness and cause black mould to grow from walls, ceilings, furniture and clothing. Most people mistakenly think that the mould is a sign of damp caused by problems at the property itself.
There are three main ways to tackle the problem:
1) Stop moisture building up.
2) Ventilate or air the home.
3) Keep your home warm.
Stop moisture building up:
- a) Wipe down surfaces where moisture settles.
- b) Cover boiling pans when cooking
- c) When cooking, bathing or washing and drying clothes, close kitchen and bathroom doors to prevent steam going into other rooms, even after you have finished
- e) Dry clothes outside where possible.
- f) Make sure that tumble dryers vent to the outside.
- g) Avoid using bottled gas or paraffin heaters as these produce a lot of moisture and could also be a health and safety risk if not used or stored properly.
Ventilate or air the home:
- a) When cooking or washing, open windows or use extractors
- b) When drying clothes inside is necessary do so in a small room with the windows open
- c) Open windows for a while each day or use the trickle/night vent on the window itself.
- d) Do not block air vents or the vents of heating appliances.
Keep your home warm:
- a) Make sure to maintain a certain heating level in the property.
- b) Cold air can often cause major condensation.
- c) Use the heating in the rooms you are living in. If you do not this can create condensation so it is important that you do not turn this off or do not put it on because of cost.
The mould formation is usually caused by condensation due to lack of ventilation and poor heating management. Often issues occur for instance in shower areas where there is increased moisture in the air.
Excess moisture lingering in the air will always condense at the coldest part of the room (usually outside walls and windows). This condensed moisture then creates the perfect environment for mould to grow.
Constant heating is an essential factor in preventing condensation and mould formation not only by heating the fabric of the building, but through making water particles airborne and creating pressure. The higher the pressure inside will always move to low pressure externally and will carry excess moisture with it through appropriate vents or top openings of windows.
The building research establishment recommend that to maintain a health living environment during the cold winter months, a relative humidity of no greater than 65% should be maintained with a constant temperature of 18-20 degrees. Any deviations from these conditions and the property are left vulnerable to the effects of condensation.
How can you deal with the condensation in the property?
Stop moisture build up. Wipe down services where moisture settles.
Cover boiling pans when cooking.
When cooking, bathing or washing and drying clothes, close kitchen and bathroom doors to prevent steam going into colder rooms, even after you finish.
Cover fish tanks to stop water evaporating into the air.
Dry clothes outside where possible.
Make sure tumble dryers are vented to the outside.
Avoid using bottle gas or paraffin heaters as these produce a lot of moisture and could also be a health and safety risk if not used or shared in a stored property.
Ventilate or air the home.
When cooking and washing, open windows or use the extractor.
Where a drying clothes inside is necessary, do so in a small room with windows open.
Open windows for a while each day or use trickle/night vents in the window itself.
Do not block air vents – this is also important where gas and heating supplies are concerned as they need a supply of oxygen to work efficiently. Allow the gases such as carbon monoxide to escape.
Allow to circulate around furniture and in cupboards. You can do this by making sure cupboards and wardrobes aren’t over filled and there is space between furniture and the walls.
Keep your home warm.
Draught proofing will keep your home warmer. This will also help reduce fuel bills. It is a matter for the tenant to deal with. When the whole house is warmer, condensation is less likely to form. Maintain a low heat when the weather is cold or wet as it is more effective than burst of high heat.
Important things to remember.
Do not block permanent ventilators.
Never block a chimney opening
Do not draught proof rooms where there is condensation or mould growth.
Do not put furniture against cold external walls.
What to do if your home has mould.
We have set out the tips to prevent mould but if you already have a mould problem how do you get rid of it? Do not disturb the mould by brushing or vacuum cleaning it. This can risk further problems.
Mould is a living organism and needs killing to get rid of it. To do this wipe down the effected area with a fungicidal wash. These are ones that carry a health and safety executive approved number making sure you follow the manufacturers instructions. Do not using bleach or washing up liquid.
Treat any mould you may have or any in your home and do what you can to reduce the condensation this will reduce any new growth.
Mildewed clothes should be dry cleaned and any carpets shampooed. If you follow the above advice then you should see a considerable improvement in any form of condensation in 4-6 weeks.
Please refer to the government website if you need more information – https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/brighton-hove.gov.uk/files/Damp%20%20mould%20-%20text%20version_0.pdf