Getting Rid of Mould and Condensation
Although you can’t see it, there is always moisture in the air. When the air gets cold, the moisture condenses and forms droplets of water, which you most commonly see on windows or cold tiles. This is condensation.
The weather doesn’t have to be wet for condensation to occur – just cold. Look for it on cold surfaces or where there is not much air movement, such as near windows, in corners or behind wardrobes.
Condensation doesn’t leave any “tidemarks” around its edges on walls. A tidemark is a sign that you have another source of damp, such as a leaky pipe or roof, or rising damp.
First Steps to Tackle Condensation and Mould
When condensation occurs in your home, there are certain things you can do immediately to deal with it. Most importantly, you should dry your windows and window sills every morning, as well as any surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom that become wet. Wring out the cloth into a bath or sink – don’t dry it on a radiator as that will only release the moisture back into the home.
If you find that mould has grown in your home you should treat it straight away. Bear in mind if you rent a property, failure to keep your house aired out, could result in the costs of fixing mould and mildew being passed to you.
- You can kill and remove mould by wiping down walls with a fungicidal wash. You will find these in the supermarket – look for one that has a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ‘approval number’. Be aware that some of these fungicidal washes may contain bleach, which can discolour wall coverings. If you rent a property it would be wise to ask your landlord or agent for their advice to ensure you treat the problem in a way that won't damage the property.
- Any clothes that have become mildewed should be dry cleaned.
- Mildewed carpets should be shampooed.
- Don’t try to remove mould or mildew with a brush or vacuum cleaner as this will only release spores into the air, which will then spread to other areas in the house. Spores can be a lung irritant, particularly if you have asthma.
- Once you’ve cleared up any mould, you could redecorate using a good-quality fungicidal paint to help prevent the problem recurring.
But remember: the only long-term cure for mould is to get rid of condensation.
Our 4 Tips to Help Reduce Condensation
There are four MAIN causes of condensation in your home:
- Excessive moisture
- Insufficient ventilation
- Cold surfaces
- Fluctuating room temperatures
Here are our top tips for managing each of these factors. They could really help to reduce condensation in your home.
1. Reduce the Amount of Moisture Which You Produce
This is easier said than done, since many of our everyday activities generate moisture – even breathing! When you’re asleep you add half a pint of moisture to the air overnight. Here’s how much moisture general household tasks release into the atmosphere
Bath or shower – two pints
Washing dishes – two pints
Cooking and boiling a kettle – six pints
Drying clothes – nine pints!!!!
So you can see, it’s very easy to release excess moisture into your home.
There are some simple things you can do to reduce the amount of moisture you produce:
- Hang your washing outside to dry when the weather permits, or hang it in the bathroom with the door closed and window open. Try not to put it on radiators or in front of a heater.
- Put pan lids on when you’re cooking, and turn the heat down once the water is boiling. Use the minimum amount of water for cooking vegetables.
- When you fill a bath put cold water in first, then add hot. This can reduce steam by as much as 90%.
- Avoid using bottled gas heaters if you can. An average-sized gas cylinder produces about eight pints of water.
- Don’t use a gas cooker to heat your kitchen. It produces a lot of moisture.
2. Improve Your Home Ventilation
A constant flow of fresh air into your home will help to replace moist air with dry air. Here are some of the ways you can improve your home’s ventilation:
- In the morning, reduce condensation by opening a small window upstairs and a small window downstairs to the first notch. These windows should be on opposite sides of the house, or diagonally opposite if you live in a flat. Open interior doors too, so that dry air can circulate freely. Do this for half an hour every day. Remember to close downstairs windows before you go out.
- When cooking or washing up, turn on your cooker hood or extractor fan or open a window.
- Keep your kitchen and bathroom doors closed to stop moisture spreading into the rest of the house.
- Open a window in your kitchen or bathroom for 20 minutes or so after use – or use an extractor fan if there is one.
- Let fresh air into your bedroom by opening the window slightly or opening trickle vents, if they are fitted.
- Take out any false backs in your wardrobes, or drill breather holes underneath to let the air flow.
- Try to keep a small gap between large items of furniture and the wall. Ideally, place wardrobes against internal walls, which are warmer than external ones.
- Don’t overfill your wardrobes and cupboards as this will restrict air circulation and cause mildew.
3. Minimise Cold Surfaces
Condensation loves cold surfaces. So walls and ceilings are a magnet for it, especially if they are tiled. To reduce condensation you can try to make these surfaces warmer. You can do this by improving insulation and draught-proofing in the home. This will have the added benefit of keeping the house warmer and reducing your energy bills.
Insulating the loft and cavity walls are the most effective ways to improve home insulation.
Before you install any draught-proofing ensure that:
- You don’t draught-proof rooms that have a cooker or heater that burns gas or solid fuels.
- You don’t block any permanent ventilators or air blocks associated with heating appliances.
4. Regulate the Temperature in Your Home
If you heat some rooms more than others, it will make condensation worse in the cooler rooms. It’s much better to heat your whole house to a constant medium-to-low level.
In cold weather, it’s a good idea to have your heating on low all day to minimise condensation. Here are some helpful tips on heating to prevent condensation:
- If there isn’t heating in every room, leave the doors of unheated rooms open so warm air can flow in.
- If you need to boost the temperature in rooms with no central heating, it’s best to use electric heaters, such as oil-filled radiators or panel heaters, on a low setting. Bottled gas heaters give out so much moisture they can make condensation worse.
- You might be surprised to know that it’s cheaper to heat a room with peak-rate electricity than with bottled gas heaters.
- The heat given out by freezers can help to prevent condensation – so you might want to put your freezer in a place that suffers from condensation.
- Try not to ‘over-ventilate’ your home when it’s cold. The resulting temperature drop can cause condensation.
We hope that this guide helps you identify and rectify any condensation problems you have. The health and well-being of our tenants is just as important to us as protecting our landlords investments. If you'd like advice on how to protect your property investment get in touch with our property maintenance team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more tips and tricks to help you over the winter period, have a look at our Winter Flyer.
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