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.
On occasion, pipework and fittings fail, particularly on older properties, this can result in leaks from fresh water and waste pipes. These leaks are typically found in bathrooms and kitchens, cupboards and service panels.
Leaks can impact both external and internal walls and ceilings. If you live in a flat, a leak from the property above or next door may impact your ceilings and walls.
Defective bath and shower seals and glazed tiles may also be a cause. In these instances, the area looks and feels damp to the touch and remains damp whatever the weather conditions are outside.
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
If you experience a leak of this type:
This is a problem caused by water rising from the ground though the floor or foundations into the home.
The water gets through or round a broken damp proof course (DPC) or absorbs through the brickwork if the property was built without a DPC.
This type of dampness usually leaves a ‘tide mark’ low down on the plaster often accompanied by white salts on the affected areas. It will normally rise no more than 24 inches/300mm above the floor level.
The moisture from rising damp can withdraw in the summer dependant on weather and groundwater but is more noticeable in winter.
If you experience a dampness of this type:
Penetrating dampness is far more noticeable following a period of rainfall. It occurs due to rainwater passing through the external roof or walls of the property onto the inner surfaces such plastered ceilings or walls.
This often produces a damp patch or area at any level of the room dependant on the defect and the passage of the water through the building. Common causes are cracked render, blocked brickwork cavities and roof leaks. Broken guttering is often associated with penetrating dampness too.
It is often more difficult to determine the exact cause of this type of dampness. It is typically a process of elimination to find a remedy, and often results in a series of different types of repair.
If you experience a dampness of this type:
Condensation is caused by water vapour generated from inside the property, coming into contact with a colder surface, such as a window or a wall or ceiling. The water vapour then condenses into water droplets which can cause dampness to plaster and decorations.
Where this does not have the opportunity to dry out naturally, such as rooms with cold stale areas, it provides the ideal environment for black mould to grow.
Condensation is more common during the colder months, it is usually found in the corners of rooms, north facing walls and on or near windows. It is also found in areas of little air circulation such as behind furniture, especially when they are pushed up against external walls.
Black mould is frequently associated with this type of dampness and is the most common form of dampness. Most homes are affected by condensation and associated mould growth at some point.
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.