Damp and mould
Damp and mould growth are often mistaken for leaks or building defects. In most cases, they are caused by condensation, which occurs when warm moist air comes into contact with a cold surface like a wall or window.
Things like cooking, washing, drying clothes indoors and boiling kettles can all cause condensation because they produce warm moist air. The problem is worse in rooms where heating is not used because the surfaces in those rooms will be colder.
All homes can suffer from mould growth. It is important to remove it with a suitable cleaning fluid as soon as you notice it, to avoid it spreading.
Most reports of mould are caused by condensation, which is caused by three factors:
- the amount of water vapour created by those in the home
- the temperature of the home and its rooms
- the level of fresh air circulating throughout the home
If these three factors are not balanced, this can provide the ideal conditions for mould.
Did you know...
- if four people sleep for eight hours they can produce up to one to two litres of water vapour through just breathing and sweating
How to prevent condensation in your home
Reduce the amount of moisture that is released into the air:
- cover pans and only boil as much water as you need - if you have an extractor fan always turn it on when cooking
- dry washing outdoors if possible, or in the bathroom with the window open and the door closed
- vent your dryer outside if it’s not self-condensing
- remove excess moisture - wipe down the windows and windowsills every morning, especially in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen
- have shorter showers and turn off the shower as soon as you're out
- if you have fish, make sure the tank is covered with a suitable hood or lid
- when running a bath put the cold water in first to reduce the steam
Make sure the rooms in your home are properly ventilated:
- keep your extractor fan switched on - they cost only around £5 per year in electricity and will help to take away moisture from the air in your home
- keep small windows ajar or leave the openers in the “night lock” position on the ground floor whist you are at home or if security is your concern
- leave trickle vents in the open position
- open kitchen and bathroom windows for at least 20 minutes after showering, cooking or cleaning to allow steam to escape, and always use the extractor fans
- close internal kitchen and bathroom doors when cooking, cleaning or washing to prevent steam escaping into other rooms
- leave at least 50mm (2 inches) between your walls and large furniture like wardrobes, beds and sofas to allow fresh air to circulate
Keep your home suitably warm:
- use your thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to gently heat up unused rooms
- heat all of your home continuously to prevent any room getting too cold. Preferably between 18 and 21 degrees
- if you are finding it hard to afford to heat your home, our Money Smart team can help
If your home is prone to condensation and you’re struggling to tackle it, you may benefit from a home energy visit.
- DO NOT use paraffin and portable bottled gas heaters - for your safety, they are not allowed in any Wolverhampton Homes property.
- DO NOT use an unvented tumble dryer
- DO NOT dry washing on radiators in a room with no ventilation
- DO NOT let your home get too cold or let unused rooms get cold
- DO NOT heat your home intermittently in cold weather
- DO NOT place furniture, bags, and household items directly up against internal walls
- DO NOT overload cupboards or wardrobes to prevent air circulation
Dealing with black mould
- remove excess mould with a damp cloth and throw it away. Avoid brushing mould as this could release spores into the air
- wipe down affected areas using a fungicidal spray or mould killer which carries a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) “approval number” available from supermarkets and hardware stores or online. Always read the instructions on the container
- Tea Tree oil is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant that works well in cleaning away mould and mildew. Just dilute three to four drops in two litres of water. Test a small area first for any kind of reaction. If there’s no reaction, soak items in the solution or spray the affected area. Wipe and rinse afterwards
- after the area has been treated, redecorate using fungicidal paint or wallpaper paste
- dry-clean affected clothes and shampoo carpets
If you have followed the advice above and still have mould in your property please let us know. You can upload photos and video of the affected area. We want to work with you to remove any mould and avoid any future problem.
It's important that if we need to visit your home, that you allow us access so that we can remove mould and work to remedy any of the causes of damp. Identifying the cause of damp and mould can be complex and is often a process of elimination. The more information you can provide, the better we can diagnose the cause.
Watch our videos for more help and advice.
Types of damp
If condensation is not the cause of unwanted moisture in your home, the problem could be damp. Black mould growth is very uncommon with damp. If you have black mould in your home, it is likely you have a problem with condensation.
Rising damp is caused by water coming up through the ground into your home. Your home will likely have a damp proof course (DPC).
A DPC is a horizontal layer of waterproof material that is put in the walls just above ground level to stop moisture from the ground rising through the walls.
To cause damp, rising water needs to pass through the DPC, which it can only do if the DPC is broken or if your home doesn’t have one. Rising damp only affects basements and ground floors, and normally rises no more than 12 to 24 inches. You can often identify rising damp by a tide mark.
Penetrating damp occurs when water leaks in through a wall or roof. Common causes include rain seeping in through a broken or missing roof tile, or spilling from a blocked gutter during heavy rain.
Leaks can sometimes happen from water or waste pipes, mainly in the kitchen or bathroom. You can normally find the cause of the problem by checking the seals around baths, showers, sinks or pipework.
If you notice a leak or if a pipe in your home has burst, please tell us straight away. You should also:
- turn off your water and drain your system
- turn on all the cold taps and flush your toilet
- turn off your heating system and the system by turning on all the hot taps
- turn off the main power if the leak is close to any electrics
- collect leaking water in buckets or pans
- if your ceiling starts to bulge from a leak above, use a long implement to release the water into a large bucket
Flooding can sometimes occur during very heavy rain. If you are affected by flood water, please make sure any vulnerable people, including children, are safe. If you are in danger and are unable to leave your home, call 999.
Keep all windows and doors closed and use sandbags to protect entrances and airbricks. Do not try to use any electric or gas appliances. If possible, turn them off at the mains. If you smell gas, call Cadent on 0800 111 999.
We strongly recommend that customers take out home contents insurance to protect their belongings in the event of a fire, flood or accident. We can offer tenants and leaseholders an affordable insurance policy through Allianz.