Damp, Mould and Condensation

Damp and condensation occurs when there is a build up of moisture in the air. There is always some moisture in the air, even if you can't see it. Moisture is produced during everyday activities such as cooking, bathing, drying clothes and even breathing.

If you are experiencing damp and mould please contact us on 0303 123 1890 or use our dedicated online form to report this.   We will ask you some questions to understand the extent of the issue and then arrange for someone to come to your home to resolve the issue.  This will involve treating the immediate problem as well as identifying other action needed to help prevent damp and mould re-occurring.

What causes condensation?

Warm, moist air condenses and forms water when it comes into contact with a cool surface, such as a wall or window.

Condensation is not caused by water penetrating from outside of your home, it is caused by moisture which is produced from inside the home.

There are four main factors that cause condensation:

  • Too much moisture being produced within the home
  • Not enough ventiliation
  • Cold surfaces
  • The temperature of your home.

Everyday activities add extra moisture to the air inside your home. You may notice that there is condensation on your windows first thing in the morning, this is because one person breathing ads half a pint of moisture to the air over night.

Problems that can be caused by excessive condensation

If the condensation can’t dry out it will cause mould to form on walls and furniture, and mildew to grow on clothes and other fabrics. Timber windows can become rotten as a result of excessive condensation.

Some examples of how much moisture we produce:

  • Drying clothes indoors = 9 pints
  • Cooking and using a kettle = 6 pints
  • Breathing (2 people at home for 16 hours) = 3 pints
  • Washing dishes = 2 pints
  • Taking a bath or shower = 2 pints

If you did all of the above you would add a total of 22 pints (10.4 litres of extra moisture to the air inside your home.

What can I do to prevent condensation?

Avoid creating excessive moisture

  • Dry clothes outside whenever possible or in a well ventilated room
  • Keep saucepan lids on when boiling water or cooking
  • Ensure thimble dryers are vented to the outside
  • Avoid using bottled gas heaters
  • Wipe down the bath/shower after each use.

Reduce moisture in the air when using hot water

  • Keep kitchen and bathroom doors shut to prevent steam getting into the colder rooms
  • Use extractor fans when cooking or washing
  • Open windows and vents so that steam can escape
  • Wipe down condensation from cold surfaces such as windows, window sills and tiled surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom to prevent mould forming.

Increase ventilation to allow the moisture to escape

  • Open windows daily for around 30 minutes, to allow a change of air
  • Move large items of furniture away from external walls and radiators to allow the air to circulate
  • Allow air to circulate in wardrobes by not overfilling them.

Raise the temperature of your home

  • Take extra steps to prevent heat loss by fitting draught excluder to windows and doors, and use underlay under carpets
  • Maintain a consistently warm level of heating throughout your home.

What can I do to remove mould and mildew?

  • Treat and remove mould before it becomes a deep black colour as it will be much harder to remove
  • Wipe down affected areas with a fungicidal (mould killing) wash, carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Wash or dry-clean mildewed clothes and shampoo mouldy carpets
  • If the mould has been extensive – remove the wall lining and wallpaper, treat the plaster and then paint/paper the area
  • Re-decorate treated areas using a good quality fungicidal paint carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Other types of damp

The three most common kinds of damp in the home are:

  • Condensation
  • Rising damp
  • Penetrating damp.

Rising damp

Rising damp is caused by ground water moving up through a wall. Most walls allow some water in, but it is usually stopped from causing damage by a barrier called a damp-proof course. Rising damp can occur if the damp-proof course in your home is either missing or not working properly, or the level of the ground outside your home is higher than your damp-proof course; allowing water to get above it.

If you have rising damp you may notice damaged skirting boards and floorboards, crumbling or salt stained plaster, and peeling paint and wallpaper. A typical sign of rising damp is the appearance or a tide mark running along the wall.

Penetrating damp

Penetrating damp is caused by water leaking through walls horizontally rather than by water travelling up walls (as is the case with rising damp). This type of damp is usually caused by structural problems such as faulty guttering or roofing.

Penetrating damp often shows up as damp patches on walls, ceilings or floors, which may darken when it rains. You are more likely to get penetrating damp if you live in an older building with solid walls, as cavity walls provide some protection.

If you think you may have rising damp, or penetrating damp in your home, get in touch with us straight away and we will take action to resolve the problem.

Top tips for reducing condensation

  • Always cook with pan lids on.
  • If you have trickle vents fitted to your windows, keep them in the open position.
  • Open your windows if you notice them misting up, a window which is slightly open is as effective as opening the window fully.
  • If you have extractor fans fitted in your kitchen and bathroom, make sure you use them regularly, they are cheap to run and every effective.
  • When filling the bath, run the cold water first then add the hot, this will reduce the amount of steam produced by around 90%
  • Keep a medium to low level of heat throughout your home rather than heating some rooms on a high heat and others not at all.
  • If you don’t have heating in every room of your house, keep doors to unheated rooms open to allow the warm air from the heated rooms to circulate.
  • To add heating to rooms without any installed heating, use an electric heater such as an oil filled radiator or panel heater, on a low setting.
  • Be careful not to over ventilate in the winter months as reducing the temperature of your home can make condensation worse.
  • Don’t use portable bottled gas heaters as they give out a lot of moisture.
  • Don’t use your gas cooker to heat your kitchen as it produces moisture when burning gas.

For further advice on saving energy, contact the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk