It has reached that time of year again when we have switched on the central heating, begun drying our laundry inside and having a nice relaxing bath or shower with the window closed due to the cold. Because of our actions, this is the damp spore’s favorite time of year – it thrives in warm damp conditions and makes its home in many of our rental properties new and old.

We know from past history that a significant number of damp cases can be averted if we are reminded of some key facts. We have put together this help sheet for you so that you can be proactive in reducing the number of maintenance issues this winter.

Damp, Mildew, Condensation… is it really a problem?

The fungus that is caused by damp isn’t just an unpleasant decoration; it’s a potential health hazard. Research has shown that the spores produced by mould can aggravate asthma and the bacteria they carry can cause infections. This hazard poses more of a threat to vulnerable groups such as elderly people, babies, young children and pregnant women.

Broken or blocked guttering can soak outside walls and leaking pipes inside can cause damp patches. Another problem is a lack of ventilation. If warm, damp air is trapped in a confined space, like a bathroom or kitchen, moisture will build up providing the ideal breeding ground for mould and mildew. A lot of this is due to drying laundry inside and not allowing enough ventilation for the moisture to escape.  Older houses are more susceptible because they may not have a ‘Damp Proof Course’ (DPC), or if they do it may have perished due to age and therefore be ineffective.

From past experience we find that condensation is the major cause of damp. When moisture trapped in warm air hits a cold surface it becomes water again. We produce over a litre of water as condensation every day just by breathing.

Can we prevent Damp and Mildew?
Prevention is always better (and more cost effective) than cure, so to avoid damp patches that can lead to mould and mildew, make sure that your property is adequately heated and ventilated. An extractor fan will help get rid of moisture in the kitchen and bathroom but will not solve damp in other rooms. If moisture is in the air due to a bath or shower, open the window and keep the door shut until the condensation has cleared. Wipe down windows and mirrors.

If you have to dry clothes indoors, do so in a cool area, preferably with a window open. They may take longer to dry, but less condensation will occur. If a dehumidifier is available ensure it is used correctly.

Ensure that all the guttering and exterior pipes are clear and working properly. Water running down a wall can soak in and the interior will become damp. We find that this is the most common form of damp damage. We all service our cars and boilers to ensure that they work correctly, you should also do the same with guttering, get it cleaned and inspected at least once a year to ensure it does what it was designed to do.

What can we suggest to Tenants?

Key bullet points should be:

  • Ensure that you keep the dwelling warm throughout winter
  • Ensure that if drying laundry inside you do so with adequate ventilation in a cooler area of the dwelling
  • Ensure that when having a shower or bath the ventilation fan is on and working or a window is open (preferably both)
  • If condensation forms on the inside of a window, wipe it dry with a cloth
  • Look for signs of growth in the guttering and inform your Managing Agent

if you suspect blockages or growth

  • Don’t allow bin bags, grow bags or debris to collect around the walls of the dwelling
  • Notify your Managing Agent immediately of any damp patches on your internal or external walls

Look out for roof tiles being out of place or missing