08 January 2019

In the UK we spend 90% of our time indoors – and for babies, young children and the elderly much of this can be spent inside the home.

Which makes the spate of damning reports that have recently criticised the quality of our homes very uncomfortable reading.

For example, the government’s latest White Paper, Building our Future - Laying the Foundations for Healthy Homes and Buildings, reports that:

Our focus here is on the health risks that can be caused by excessive condensation and mould.

We will:

  • Outline exactly what causes condensation and mould.
  • Detail what can be done to prevent it.
  • And offer practical advice for you properties and tenants to ensure you are all maintaining a healthy environment.

The health risks of condensation and mould

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control moulds can cause:

  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Throat irritation
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation

In addition, a link to asthma has been suggested and those with allergies or chronic lung illnesses will have a greatly heightened risk of serious infections in the lungs.

Who’s most at risk?

More than half a million social housing homes in England do not meet basic health and safety standards – with 205,000 homes having damp in one or more rooms.

It is social housing and rental properties that are most at risk of having damp issues due to poor ventilation, overcrowding, inadequate heating and lack of regular maintenance by landlords.

The causes of condensation and mould

The UK’s cold and wet climate certainly contributes to the problem but building fabric, inadequate insulation and poor provision – or use – of ventilation compound this issue massively.

Although the age of much of the UK’s housing stock can contribute to damp within the home, there are many new homes also suffering from it too.

A build-up of moisture in the home can cause a range of problems, and can potentially damage the health of the occupants and the fabric of the building – in this particular case mould starts to grow.

There are many ways that moisture accumulates in the home, including:

  • Rain entering through leaks in the roof and walls, blocks or cracks in the gutters and poorly fitted doors and windows.
  • Leaks from plumbing faults often remain undetected and poorly sealed baths or showers can, over time, lead to a build-up of water.
  • Ground water will rise up through the walls and floor of your home if its damp proof course is faulty.
  • On top of this, a typical family of four will produce as much as 16 pints of water every single day just by breathing, cooking, washing and drying clothes.
  • Condensation is more likely to build up on a cooler surface. It may be that there are less-insulated parts of the property that lead to an excessive amount of condensation, such as an insulated wall with a single-glazed window or an insulation gap at the top of wall.

5 steps that you can take to help your tenants live mould-free

1/ Reduce moisture levels

  • The provision of an outdoor area for drying clothes will help encourage clothes to be dried outside rather than within the home.
    If they are to be dried inside, doing so in a well-ventilated space such as a laundry room or bathroom is best.
  • By simply using the extractor fan every time we cook – and placing lids over boiling pans – we can greatly reduce the moisture levels in the air.
  • Window vents, or any other vents, should always be left open.
  • If a tumble dryer is installed it must be vented to the outside.

2/ Ensure you have provided – and they are using – sufficient ventilation

  • Good ventilation is critical in reducing the occurrence of mould and condensation. Extractor fans are fundamental in providing this, but – even where installed – these are often not used, due to excessive noise or concerns over energy usage or perceived cost implications.
  • It’s always advisable to pull furniture away from problem walls to allow air to circulate.
  • Our innovative Unity CV3 offers a continuously running extractor fan that also delivers noise reduction, low cost running and installed performance.
  • It’s also the first extractor fan that provides updates to landlords on how the fan is performing and conditions of the installed environment.

3/ Remove mould immediately

  • If you do have mould growing, it should be cleaned off straight away to minimise any health risks (but you must resolve any underlying damp problems to stop it coming back).
  • A mix of baking soda and water is a highly-effective and safe way to do this – and you can find instructions here.

4/ Eliminate cold spots and surfaces

  • Damp often accumulates where colder surfaces are.

    These can be caused, for example, by gaps between your wall insulation and your loft insulation. Try to get this fixed before it attracts condensation and possibly mould.

5/ Keep heat in the home constant and not intermittent

  • Maintain a consistent and constant temperature throughout the home by avoiding having rooms where the heating is turned off over the winter months.
  • Any home not being heated properly can contribute to damp issues, so having an energy efficient boiler installed and appropriate heating controls is an excellent way to ensure your property is kept dry, comfortable and mould-free.

Find out more about our Unity CV3 continuiously running (Dmev) fan, with low-running costs and reduced noise levels, moisture-removing humidistat and ease of installation making it the ideal choice for social housing landlords.