We’ve all seen it, dewy and dripping after a shower, ruining your wallpaper and causing a stink. But what is condensation, what problems can it cause in your home and how can you get rid of mould and damp?
There’s a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the damp stuff, so we’ve put together a how-to guide so that you can reduce condensation, and prevent and mould from your home.
What Causes Condensation?
When warm air meets cold surfaces and there are high levels of humidity in your home, condensation occurs; steam from cooking, washing and clothes drying all play a part in increasing the humidity in the air.
Therefore, condensation is more common in the cold winter months as people use their central heating more and take hotter showers while having their windows closed – air can’t circulate, and condensation can’t escape.
Once it begins to build up, this moisture will form droplets on windows, walls and other cool surfaces.
What Causes Damp?
Damp is different to condensation in that it’s not something you can control – or create. Damp is a bi-product of external weather and bad seals in your home.
This type of damp occurs when rain seeps in through the walls or via leaking pipes, damaged roofs, guttering or worn away or badly sealed window frames. In a new build, damp may also occur as water used in construction, such as plastering, has yet to dry.
Rising damp works its way up from the ground and appears on the lower parts of the ground floor or basement walls up to a level of 5 feet. The latter type can usually be dealt with by investing in a damp proof course.
The Problem with Mould
Damp on the internal walls of your home creates the perfect environment for mould to thrive and grow, which is both unattractive and bad for your health. Once grown, the spores from the mould will begin floating around the home in the air that you breathe and a particularly toxic black mould, Stachybotrys Charatarum, can pose a real health threat to you and your family.
If you have damp and mould in your home you’re more likely to suffer from respiratory problems, asthma or allergies. Mould is a particular risk to young children, the elderly and those already suffering from or susceptible to respiratory issues, allergies and those with weakened immune systems.
If you’re concerned about your home, you should be proactive about condensation and damp build-ups, this is will ensure a mould-free home.
How Can You Reduce Condensation in your Home?
Ensure your home is well ventilated by keeping drip vents open, this will allow extra airflow. You should also open windows in every room at least once a day.
Ensure that your property’s airways, such as chimneys, are clear.
Maintain a Constant Temperature
During the winter months, when using the central heating, you should try to maintain a constant temperature. Since condensation results from warm air meeting cold, regulating the temperature prevents the ideal conditions for condensation from occurring.
Good insulation and double glazing will help to keep your home steadily heated.
Use Extractor Fans
If you don’t have extractor fans, then be sure to wipe down surfaces that are covered in moisture after washing and cooking.
Line Dry Clothes
Weather permitting, dry your clothes and linen on a line outside and if you have to do the drying inside, be sure to keep that room ventilated.
If you use a tumble dryer, make sure that it’s vented adequately – one load can produce 2 litres of water! The ventilation pipe should run outside the building.
Let the Air Circulate
Check for Excess Water
Finally survey your home regularly for leaks and ensure that there are no blockages or damages in the downpipes, which may lead to excessive wetness on your external walls.
However, if, you’re unfortunate enough to already be experiencing issues and need to get rid of mould and damp, then you’ll need to be reactive rather than proactive…
How to Get Rid of Mould and Damp
Once you have identified and fixed the source of the excess moisture in your home, should you tackle the mould? Regardless of your efforts to reduce condensation, unless you get rid of the mould and damp, you will be fighting a losing battle.
The general advice is that you should only attempt to remove mould yourself if the initial causes were condensation and if the affected area is less than 1m square. NEVER attempt to deal with mould yourself that has been caused by sewage or other contaminated water sources.
DIY Mould Removal:
Despite it being advised against, it’s not impossible to get rid of mould and damp by yourself. If you are considering this route, make sure to do the following:
If you’re removing mould yourself be sure to keep windows open and doors closed to stop spores spreading. Also ensure the adequate protection by using a mouth and nose mask, goggles without ventilation holes and long rubber gloves.
Have a bin liner to hand to get rid of infected items like mouldy clothes, curtains or rugs. You may have to replace any mattresses or soft toys that feel damp and smell like mildew.
Prepare some rags and a bucket of water with mild detergent, such as washing up liquid or soap powder used for hand-washing. WHO guidelines do not recommend the use of chemical disinfectants as they may be toxic and pose more of a health threat than a solution to your problem.
Clean and Dry
- Clean by wiping the mould off the wall with the soapy rag;
- Use a dry rag to wipe and dry the infected area;
- The room should also be cleaned thoroughly after the mould has been removed (such as dusting and hoovering);
- Dispose of cleaning rags in plastic bags;
So, the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure and this applies to household damp and mould issues. The way to prevent mould is to control the moisture in and around the home.
Here are some quick pointers:
- Identify the problem areas in your home and fix them;
- Take quick action when water accumulates;
- Keep your house well ventilated and monitor humidity;
If you stick to this guide, then you shouldn’t need to worry about mould growing in your home. If you’ve recently removed mould from your home then you’ll need to be particularly vigilant; and it might be worth having an expert access the house for potential cracks, leaks or obvious errors.